IOCs owe NDDC $4bn, says FG

. PWYP cites corruption for Commission’s poor performance

The Federal Government has attributed the poor performance of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to the over $4billion allegedly owed the Commission by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria.

Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who revealed this yesterday, at a briefing by the Presidential Media Team in Abuja, said the amount is an accumulation from many years of unpaid commitments from the three per cent annual levy of the IOCs’ annual budget mandated to be remitted to the interventionist agency.

Akpabio assured that the funds were part of monies NDDC was expected to deploy in executing development projects in the oil-producing region in Nigeria, and vowed that government will do whatever it takes to recover the funds from the oil companies.

He said: “NDDC is being owed over $4b by the IOCs and the federal government is making every effort to collect the money. They were expected to pay three per cent of their annual budget to the NDDC; all of them are owing to the NDDC.”

Plagued by corruption

However, global campaign agency for an open and accountable extractive industry, Publish What You Pay (PWYP), in a report published in March this year, decried that corruption and poor accountability have continued to plague the vast receipts from the IOCs for community development.

The report, “What’s in It for Us?” is an action-research case study of Nigeria’s extractive industries, discovered that “Between 2014 and 2019, the NDDC’s 3% annual budget levy from oil companies operating in the region delivered more than US $3.2 billion from subsidiaries of Chevron, CNOOC (China), Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and other companies.”

Policy Alert co-author of the study, Iniobong Usen, commented: “The NDDC, with its vast receipts over the past 20 years, is plagued with corruption scandals and widely perceived to have failed in its mandate of delivering sustainable benefits to Niger Delta communities.”

Also, Director of Policy Alert, Tijah Bolton-Akpan, who co-authored the study, said: “These findings underline how unaccountable and badly governed Nigeria’s extractive sector is and raise the question: where is all this money going? Despite millions of dollars meant to benefit Delta communities changing hands every year, the region is one of the most polluted places on earth.”

He added that “Responsibility for environmental harms and impoverished communities lies not just in Nigeria, but also in London, the Hague, Paris and other capitals where multinational parent companies that extract Nigeria’s mineral wealth are incorporated, headquartered, publicly listed and should be more stringently regulated.”

Specifically, PWYP UK, found that “The millions of dollars multinational energy companies pay every year towards development in the Niger Delta are having negligible impact on people’s lives or environmental protection.”

The NDDC, with its vast receipts over the past 20 years, is plagued with corruption scandals and widely perceived to have failed in its mandate of delivering sustainable benefits to Niger Delta communities.

Miles Litvinoff, Director of PWYP UK, who also co-wrote, “What’s in It for Us?” said: “Oil dominates Nigeria’s economy. Niger Delta communities have experienced all the downsides with negligible benefits. The Nigerian government and oil companies must ensure that the millions meant for development reach their intended target.

“As the world moves away from fossil fuels, urgent action is required to prevent communities being hit by a double whammy: the impact of decades of oil and gas pollution and no decent development legacy to show for it. Those who have paid the highest price for Nigeria’s oil must be properly compensated before it’s too late.”

The study documents how Niger Delta communities live in polluted and dehumanising conditions close to extraction sites. Daily realities include oil spills and gas flaring, a lack of safe drinking water and decent sanitation, meagre and inadequate healthcare and educational facilities, and rampant unemployment, especially among young adults.

Ministry activities

Meanwhile, Akpabio, who spoke on the performance of the NDDC as part of the activities of his Ministry, berated the agency for “acting like Father Christmas and Stock Exchange” over the years.

He revealed that the NDDC owed contractors about N3 trillion through frivolous and unverified contract awards.

“We are investigating the NDDC through forensic auditing. Since my assumption of office, l have checked and I have not seen even a 5km of road done by the NDDC. We are still searching to understand where the funds they spent went into and we are going to find them.”

Also speaking on the Ogoni clean-up, he disclosed that 21 sites have been completed while new contracts will soon be awarded for 36 new sites. It is now 10 years since a United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP) report declared a state of emergency on the extreme high level of pollution in the communities.

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