NDDC Defends Collapse of Acting MD, Pondei at Reps Hearing

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NDDC Defends Collapse of Acting MD, Pondei at Reps Hearing
Nwolu Obiajulu

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has attributed the collapse of its acting Managing Director, Prof. Keme Pondei, to a medical condition which his doctors have warned him against.

Charles Odili, Director, Corporate Affairs said in a statement that Pondei went against the warning of his doctors who had warned him against attending the hearing given his medical condition. Odili said that his state of health had degenerated after two weeks of illness prompting the instruction from his doctors.

According to Odili, “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.”

Odili said that the National Assembly initiated a probe of Pondei’s tenure three months after his takeover in February 20, 2020, bulk of which was during the COVID-19 induced nationwide lockdown conditions.

He stated that Pondei in view of his position, took on the official duty of accounting for the activities of the NDDC and what took place between 2008 – 2012 “”which is the subject of another hearing based on the auditor general’s report for the period.”

He said: “It would, however, be unfair to hold him personally liable for acts which took place when he was not the head of the Commission. When the two arms of the National Assembly called for a probe, it was over a missing N40bn. The Commission took the rare step of publishing all payments made by it under Prof Pondei. No organisation in Nigeria, public or private has ever got to that level of transparency in our national history.

“As this publication undermined the claims of his accusers, the subject of the public hearing changed to ‘financial recklessness’. While this might appear insignificant, it amounted to changing the goal posts to smear a clean man. While misappropriation of N40bn is a matter demanding objective proof, the question of financial recklessness is one open to subjective judgement.

“The Commission is delighted that Olubunmi Ojo, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC has recused himself from the hearing. At the end of the day, everyone has to answer for his role in the misappropriation of the resources of the Commission.

“It is this search for answers that led President Muhammadu Buhari, on the request of the nine governors of the region, to institute a forensic audit to probe what happened to the resources of the Commission from 2001 to date.

“The Prof Pondei led IMC has committed to the success of that exercise. While we thought there will be a fight back by those who dipped their hands in the cookie’s jar, we never expected this level of boldness and malevolent aggression as witnessed by accusers at hearing and their paid agents through all the media platforms.

“The Commission is participating at the hearing, even though it thinks that seeing to the conclusion of the forensic audit will serve the future of the Commission and the Niger Delta region more than the probe of 74 days of activities.”

Source: The Nation

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