It was all drama at the NDDC probe at the National Assembly sitting today as Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, acting managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), passed out while giving an account of his stewardship to the investigative panel of the House of Representatives Committee probing the commission today July 20.
Pondei passed out after he failed to defend the N1.32 billion he approved to provide COVID-19 palliative for members of the Commission. He also could not defend the N640 million he approved to one Clear Point Communications Limited.
He was being asked about the money meant for students on scholarship when he passed out. He has been taken out for medical attention.
AKPABIO’S BOMB SHELL
The other controversy of the day was raised by the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio. The former Akwa Ibom State Governor told the panel that most of the contracts in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are given to members of the National Assembly. In his words:
“We all know that most of the contracts at NDDC are given to members of the national assembly”
The chairman of the probe panel, Thomas Ereyitomi, stopped him from speaking further after a female member challenged him to reveal the lawmakers that have been awarded contracts.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE ACTING IMC MANAGING DIRECTOR
Before he fainted and was taken out, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, acting managing director of the NDDC, had disclosed that the Commission under his stewardship, paid N641 million to one Clear Point communication, to help employ persons to help identify projects being executed by the commission in the region.
When asked to explain what the money was paid for and if it was budgeted for, Pondei said
”The money was paid to Clear Point Communications for a variety of purposes all related to the Forensic audit. There are 185 local government areas and each of them was budgetted for N3.46 million. One, allowances for coordinators per local government areas, training for the coordinators, setting up of information desks for the coordinators. These coordinators are the people to identify the sites of all the projects in the NDDC area.”
When asked if what he meant was that he contracted Clear Point to help identify the projects in NDDC areas, Pondei replied:
They will get local people in the local government areas to identify these sites where NDDC projects are because when they go for inspections, people are not able to locate these projects and so we needed local people who would guide”
He said those who were employed would also be trained as ”Pointers for Projects”.
”Clear Point has been a consultant in the NDDC before I even came in. They are putting help desk, communication desks in all the places to locate the projects” he said
He however could not account for N536 million paid to a company to run a campaign tagged “Save Life campaign”. Pondei appeared shocked as he could not even recall he approved the project.
NDDC EXPLAINS PONDEI’S HEALTH CHALLENGE
The management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says the acting Managing Director of its interim management committee, Prof. Keme Pondei, has been ill for two weeks now and that he ignored his doctors’ advice not to attend the investigative hearing of the House of Representatives today July 20.
Pondei threw the proceedings into a state of confusion earlier today as he fainted during proceedings while he was being grilled by the lawmakers.
In a statement released this evening, the Director, Corporate Affairs of NDDC, Charles Odili, said Pondei is now in a stable condition.
“The commission wishes to disclose that Prof Pondei has been ill for the past two weeks. This morning, his condition deteriorated, and his doctors advised against attending the hearing. However, he ignored his doctors’ advice because of the realisation that his traducers will use his absence at the hearing to soil his name and reputation. He thought he could make it through the hearing and take care of his health later. As it turned out, his doctors were right. Prof Pondei is in a stable condition at a clinic in Abuja.” the statement read
Meanwhile the speaker of the House of Representative step in after the break to announce that Proffessor Pondei has been given medical attention and will be monitored to ensure that his health situation is stable. The fate of the current probe is not clear as the key actors have brought in many intrigues to further complicate the situation.