Minister Orders Probe Of N200 Audit NDDC Contracts

– Obong Umana Okon Umana, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs

The South-South Reawakening Group (SSRG) has urged the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong umana Okon Umana to as a matter of national emergency ensure the quick inauguration of a substantive NDDC board already screened and approved by the Senate in order for the board to hit the ground running.

The Minister has ordered for the probe of N200billion contracts awarded without due process during the regime of the former Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Effiong Akwa, must account for N300Billion projects awarded against due process under his headship.

Umana gave the order during a working visit to the Commission in Port Harcourt and instructed the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, to mobilise SETRACO, contractor handling the Rivers – Bayelsa section of the East West Road to intervene on the portions collapsed by devastating 2022 floods.

The Minister told the staff to feel ashamed at the negative perceptions stakeholders and external watchers have about the NDDC where they work, just as he ordered release of relief materials to persons ravaged by the flood in the Niger Delta.

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“The perception is that NDDC has failed. There is also the perception about widespread, endemic corruption in the commission. True or false, I don’t think it is a good story that you go somewhere and you are introduced as a staff of NDDC and the first thing the person must be thinking about you is that this must be one of the corrupt ones.

“Even for your children, it is not a good story. It is in your hands to change that perception. There is a total failure. It is that failure that makes its possible for one man to sit alone in this commission and issue awards letters without due process, of N200Billion, N300Billion, under the guise of emergency.

Umana said, “This is a clearcut impunity we cannot tolerate. Already we are talking of indebtedness of over N3Trillion. And one man will still sit alone and issue letters of another N300Billion without following processes? And this was during pendency of the Forensic Audit.

“The Acting MD is directed to give me full report which should go to the President on this. This was without my knowledge, so I want a report, I want all of those contracts terminated immediately. No budget at the time those contracts were awarded.

“This is the reason we can’t do anything meaningful with NDDC. Why would streets lights, solar light constitute emergency project? What is the emergency about street light? What is so urgent about solar light?

“And I’ve seen people bring papers to me. One person will bring 10, 15 papers, talking about emergency repairs of failed portions of roads, 2Kms, N800Million, in Delta, Abia, in Imo states. If you making N800Million to fix two Kms of failed portions, how much are you going to use to construct the road?

“And one man holding 10 of those papers, that’s N8Billion. When 100 people are holding such papers, that’s N800Billion, almost a Trillion. This is why this commission has failed. And when the President directed that these things be looked into, those who perpetrated them started frustrating the exercise”.

The Minister went on to say “I just knew the conditions for the Forensic Audit were not conducive for that probe to be carried out, because if the perpetrators were the ones to support execution of the audit, then it wasn’t going to make any sense. Anybody who stands in the way to undermine the directive of Mr President will be appropriately sanctioned.

“We should decide we want to draw a line of commitment, to say things would change. Let people start telling that narrative that NDDC has changed. That is not impossible. Why can’t we, for example, say all those being owed N50Million and under, that they get paid without coming to the commission. It’s a step in the right direction that will give confidence to people about the commission.

“Why can’t NDDC, for example say the Benin-Sapele Road should be upgraded, just as other critical interstate highways. That will be a good story. I have gotten Presidential approval for transmission of 2021, 2022 budgets of the commission. I also have presidential approval for funds (of the commission) recovered by EFCC.”

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