Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was created to ensure that development gets to Niger Delta area, where the country is getting oil money from due to years of agitation by the people of the area.
However, some revelations about the commission are indicating that a lot of things are wrong with the commission, as allegations of corruption are trailing the commission.
Giving an insight into some of the alleged dirty deals in the commission, the Executive Directly of Projects of the commission, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh revealed that the current Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio is set to put an end to the massive corruption going on in the commission.
Dr. Ojuogboh said in an interview that what is happening in the NDDC is quite unfortunate and that the Interim Management Committee (IMC) wanted to put things right in the commission and that Akpabio had to stop a consultancy arrangement given to two firms in the commission to make things right.
“One is star Line Nigeria Limited. Star Line was illegally collecting revenue on behalf of the NDDC for statutory payments and they were earning N1 billion every month. When the minister came in , the company invited the Minister to join the fraud. The Minister said “No”, and immediately asked for the stoppage of that consultancy.
“Another company called Candour went to LNG and claimed they were the ones who initiated statutory payments from LNG. And the company belongs to a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The letter says they collected $28 million and then exchanged it for N360 to a dollar . As at that time the exchange rate was not N360 to $1. The CBN was exchanging for N225 to $1. And at the end of the day ,they asked for 20 percent of the $28million.
“They were paid and they wanted to continue. Senator Akpabio said “No”, this is fraud against Nigeria and hell was let loose. They claimed that this is the money used to work in the National Assembly in Abuja. According to the chairman, if there is any contest in the National Assembly this is where they source the money from. The IMC wrote letters to these contractors and because of that they declared war on the IMC,” he said.
Dr. Ojuogboh stated that the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives and the President of the Senate were not aware of what the Chairmen of the Committees were doing in the National Assembly, and that members of the committees were not also aware.
He said: “it is just one man squad. Between 2016 and 2019 emergency contracts of over N2 trillion were awarded under the supervision of the Chairmen of both committees.
“And I have the list of how the contracts were distributed. In the list, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta collected 1000 of those jobs and said he was going to share it among the senators, but the senators denied knowledge of such files. We have the records . These 1000 contracts were collected by a man called Nelson Agbamuche purportedly on behalf of the Senate.
“The immediate crises that we are witnessing is as a result of the budget. How did the budget run into problem? The bureaucracy told us when we came in that in 2016 there was no budget, 2017 there was no budget . 2018 there was no budget. The budget for 2019 was passed some few weeks ago .
“What led to it? When a Chairman of Senate Committee came in, in 2015, he called the bureaucracy of NDDC and told them to insert jobs worth N15 billion for him, they went back and complied. But when the budget was sent to him he said he did not mean N15 billion but N150 billion.
“The bureaucracy went back but couldn’t comply because there was no way they could do that. The Chairman advised them to award the contract as emergency jobs so that they won’t go through the due processes. That was how the emergency procedures were breached and the commission presently has liabilities of over N3 trillion. How can this continue?”
The NDDC Project Director revealed that in the past, once someone had a contract in NDDC, it was like he had won a lottery.
He said that a contract in NDDC that was awarded for N700 million could be executed with N10 million to N20 million, but that they brought in changes.
“When we inspect the project we look at your Bill of Engineering Quantity and rate the job that you have done and issue you the interim payments certificate for that Job.
“And through this process we have saved the commission over N50 billion already. Can you believe it that since the inception of NDDC the Agency has not done even 10 kilometres of dualized road in Niger Delta. Reputable companies like Julius Berger has never been engaged to execute projects in Niger Delta.
“When Senator Godswill Akpabio came on board as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, he had ideas to replicate what he did in Akwa Ibom State as Governor. In order to do that he said the Commission must bring in reputable companies that can deliver quality jobs to the people of the Niger Delta.
“And that is what those who are struggling to take over the NDDC do not want. Can you imagine that somebody who has oversight functions over the NDDC is the one recommending people for appointment into the management of the same Commission? If that was to happen how can he in his own conscience, exercise proper oversight functions over his nominees.
“As it turned out, the President didn’t allow it, so we became enemies of the sponsors of that particular board that was not allowed to operate,” he said.