The embattled Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as paid N570m to some staff members to undergo training programmes when Nigeria was on total lockdown following the outbreak of the COVID-19.
The disclosure is contained in the report of the Senate ad hoc committee set up to unravel the alleged financial recklessness perpetrated by the IMC between October 1999 and May 2020.
The report gathered at as on Friday showed that N143m was paid to individual members of staff on April 1, 2020 to attend a budget participatory conference.
Fortunately, according to the report, “this period happens to be during the COVID-19 lockdown. It is obvious that the conference was not attended as the country was on absolute lockdown.”
The panel, therefore, recommended that the entire sum be refunded by the staff members concerned.
“This payment was made to five members of staff averaging almost N28m per person,” it stated.
The report also added that N171m was paid in cash to 300 drivers on February 3, 2020 to attend a driver training course, scheduled to take place when the nation was on lockdown.
The panel noted that the culture of cash payments to individual staff seems to be a standard practice at the NDDC.
“This custom is not only unethical, it lacks transparency and accountability. NDDC must do away with this practice as a way of improving its duty of stewardship,” the report stated.
It also added that the IMC paid N150m on April 3, 2020, to some NDDC union executives for an International Labour Organisation conference in Turin, Italy.
“unfortunately this period also happens to be during the COVID-19 lockdown. It is obvious that the beneficiaries of these payments could not travel out of the country as a result of the COVID-19 travel restriction.