NDDC: Group Uncovers Padding Of Oversea scholarship Funds

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The actual reason the Daniel Pondei-led Interim Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) could not pay scholarship funds for oversea students has been uncovered.

The figures have curiously jumped from $1.9m in 2018 to over $7m in 2019 without records of grant of new scholarships.

President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the immediate payment of scholarship funds of oversea students after series of protests by students abroad.

But the NDDC has upon the discovery of the passing of the figure, had decided to suspend payment until the identities of the ‘ghost’ names are unmasked, through the various bank details attached to the names.

An accountability and advocacy group, the Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative, disclosed that “the stories making the rounds, that the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) cannot pay their Foreign Scholarship students due to the absence of an Executive Director of Finance and Administration (EDFA), following the death of Mr. Etang Ibanga, the former EDFA have been discovered not to have emanated from the NDDC.”

In a statement signed by its President, Christie Obiaruko Ndukwe, the discovery was made upon inquiry, “both at the Headquarters of the NDDC and from the Central Bank of Nigeria”.

According to the statement, “we found out authoritatively that unlike other contracts or projects at the NDDC, the foreign scholarship is paid from foreign currency denominated domiciliary account, with the Executive Director Finance and Administration (EDFA) and the Executive Director Projects (EDP) as the authorized signatories.

“Sources at the NDDC headquarters informed the Citizens Quest that the inability of the IMC to meet up with foreign scholarship obligation is not unconnected to the bloated figures they met, when they assumed office, earlier this year.

“The IMC is worried that the number of scholarship students appears to increase with a new Management, giving the impression that the students don’t ever graduate from the scheme. A situation where the figures rose from $1.9m in 2018 to over $7m in 2019 is indeed worrisome and scary, indicating the padding of the records with ghost names.

“The present Management under the Interim Management Committee, IMC, has not awarded any scholarships, as such; it is worrisome that the figures for the students are on the increase in spite of payments of about $1.9m and $3.4m paid by the two previous Boards”.

It added that, “the Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative further learnt that the NDDC, upon this discovery decided to suspend payment, until the identities of the ghost names are unmasked, through the various bank details attached to those names.

“The source at NDDC also hinted that sustained scholarship related protests is geared towards forcing the IMC to pay those ghost names, under pressure. This explains why the protest is getting dedicated media attention, being bankrolled by the scholarship payroll cabal, who are mostly from the National Assembly, past and present.

“An increase from $1.9m to $7m is almost 400% and such bleeding of the commonwealth should not be allowed to continue, under any guise.

“This is why, despite the Presidential directive to pay, and with available funds, at the CBN, the IMC is yet constrained to endorse the continued rape of the region, through such approval for payments that end up in private pockets. The IMC had, sequel to the Presidential directive, gone to the CBN to make a payment of $5m, to clear all outstanding entitlement of the students, only to discover that the figure had risen to a whopping $7m.

“It is sad that the innocent students on scholarship have to endure hardship, occasioned by corruption in the system, but it is in the overall interest of the country that the scholarship scheme be sanitized, to weed out ghost names from the payroll and pave way for a hitch free payment of the verified students.

“The group therefore calls on those behind the spate of protests by just a handful of students to put a stop to this unbecoming attitude which is only aimed at railroading the good intentions of the present Government under President Muhammadu Buhari for the people of the Niger Delta.

“Those who have also constituted themselves into a group whose only stock in trade is to dish out falsehood backed by alarming figures aimed at pitting the Management of the Commission against the Nigerian people should retrace their steps by taking measures to verify whatever information at their disposal in order to avoid heating up the polity with the fake news syndrome.”

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