I had unexplained health challenge and wasn’t acting —NDDC boss, Kemebradikumo Pondei

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 Acting Managing Director of the Expanded Interim Management Committee, the EIMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei,  has said he is shocked that some Nigerians and all those at the hearing that day thought he was acting when he fainted while testifying before the House of Representatives public hearing on the alleged financial recklessness in the commission on July 20.

Pondei who was made to answer certain very sensitive and important questions suddenly slumped before the panel questioning him leaving Nigerians and lawmakers in shock during the hearing. Pondei fainted after he was grilled and could not defend the N1.3 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.

In an interview with Vanguard, Pondei said he had an unexplained and unexpected health challenge that day. In his words

”I had an unexplained, unexpected health challenge. It is ridiculous to think that people believed I was acting. I would not pray for anyone to experience what I went through. I do not run from issues. I have put all that behind me.”

Pondei who denied every allegation and said the only ”sin” of his team is that they tried to clear out all existing debts incurred by the past management teams. Pondei denied allegations that the Executive Interim Management Team of the commission led by him spent N81.5 billion within the short time they came into office. According to him, the N81.5 billion was jointly spent by the former Interim Management Committee that was in office from October 2019 to February 2020 and his committee when he took over in February.

Pondei said most of the money was expended on capital expenditure.

”This is not true. The current EIMC did not spend N81.5bn. This was the joint expenditure by both IMCs from October 2019 to 31st May 2020.  The current IMC between 20th February 2020 and 31st May 2020 spent N59.1bn. Out of this, N38.6bn was for capital expenditure, paid to contractors, and other expenditures incurred by previous management. The balance was for recurrent expenditure, including a backlog of debts owed to service providers and a backlog of allowances approved for staff by previous managements, but left unpaid. Our sin has been that we have tried to clean up the embarrassing debts incurred by previous managements.” he said

Pondei added ”The accusations/allegations were laughable. From N40 billion missing, the probes now became extra-budgetary spending. After accusing the EIMC of embezzlement of N40 billion, nothing was substantiated. The IMC is then asked to refund monies paid for historical debts owed contractors, service providers, and allowances paid to staff.”

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