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NDDC says director’s death two months ago caused delay in payment of scholars’ bursaries

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THE management of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Tuesday attributed the delay in payment of bursaries to scholarship beneficiaries in the United Kingdom to the death of Ibanga Etang, the Commission’s acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration.

Charles Odili, NDDC’s Director Corporate Affairs,  disclosed in a statement that Etang’s demise in May hampered the payment of the beneficiaries’ bursaries and would forthwith be settled following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the outstanding bursaries should be paid within one week.

THE ICIR reported on Monday protest by NDDC scholars in London at the Nigeria High Commission over non-payment of their ‘tuition and upkeep allowance’.

The aggrieved scholars were captured on video, holding placards with several inscriptions, expressing disappointment and demanding a resolution from the government.

While explaining further on the delay, Odili stated that only the Executive Director (Finance) and the Executive Director (Projects) can sign for the release of funds from the Commission’s domiciliary accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“With the death of Chief Etang, the remittance has to await the appointment of a new EDFA,” he said.

According to him, President Buhari had issued the directive to pay the scholars to Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

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“Senator Akpabio, the Honourable Minister, said President Buhari who has been briefed on the protest by students at the Nigerian High Commission in London, has ordered that all stops be pulled to pay the students by the end of this week. We expect a new EDFA to be appointed this week. As soon as that is done, they would all be paid,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NDDC is enmeshed in a huge corruption scandal which is currently being investigated by the National Assembly.

The House of Representatives Committee  investigating financial infractions in the NDDC is demanding accountability for  N81.5 billion expenses incurred by the Commission between January and May 2020.

Olubumi Tunji-Ojo, Chairman, House Committee on NDDC disclosed this at the investigative hearing on alleged financial malfeasance in the commission.

He said the discovery was made after going through books submitted by both the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF).

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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