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Why NDDC Is An Agency OfBogus And Abandoned Projects

Elizabeth Chukwuma

More facts have emerged why the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, an agency of the ministry of Niger Delta under the close watch of Godswill Akpabio, a former  governor of Akwa Ibom state., had been described as an agency of bogus and abandoned projects  by  stakeholders.

 This is because the too much  money to waste leading to  connivance between contractors and  the  Staff of the agency over the execution of   non -existent projects  as the Commission remain awash with  abandoned projects that littered the Niger Delta states of Abia,  Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross river, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.

 Past and present  IMC, of the agency had been accused of  Corruption by stakeholders.The worst hit was the former Management led by  Nsima Ekere, and who incidentally was  a one -time governorship Candidate of Akwa Ibom state on the platform of the All Progressive Congress, APC.

The allegations of Corruption against the Commission  under his  close watch, may have facilitated his removal  and  encouraged President Muhammadu Buhari to set  up the IMC, to  oversee the agency  headed by  Kemebradikumo Pondei, a Professor . Indeed, the allegations of Corruptions that  had bedeviled  the then  Ekere  led Management  of the Commission  appears to have  become the lot of the Pondei IMC.

Akpabio: Minister Of Ministry Of Niger Delta

Recall  that the Ekere led  NNDC, Management had been  described as purposeless  as it was said to have  only been concerned with the award of Contracts to political allies, mostly  for Clearing of water Hyacinths, execution of  Emergency projects and River De-silting .

One of the beneficiaries of the Contracts that were said to have been awarded by the Commission under the close watch of Ekere was Akpabio, now minister of ministry of  Niger Delta. The sum of N65 billion was said to have been paid to him for Clearing of water Hyacinths alone.

Notwithstanding, the huge  amount  that was said to have been  paid  to the former  Akwa Ibom state  governor,  he was said to have taken advantage of his ministerial position  to  authorise   another payment  of N1.9 billion  and N700 million respectively, for the same job  within an interval of two weeks on assumption of office.

This is in addition  to the alleged  approval for the  processing for additional payment of N30 billion  for the same  Clearing of water Hyacinths Contract. He was said to have also authorised  N4 billion payment from the purse of NNDC,  for supply   of Lassa Fever  equipment, which insider sources said were  never delivered  to the Commission.

The Pondei led IMC, of the NDDC,may not have been  spared of the  allegations of Corruptions  by stakeholders, who described it  as    a mere smokescreen  for          ‘’illegal payments  and withdrawals from the agency accounts under the guise of Supervising the Forensic Audit’’.  

 The Ijaw  Peoples Development Initiative , IPDI,  particular, were said to have  accused the  Pondei led Commission of  taking advantage of the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country emerged  Coronavirus, popular, COVID 19,  to fraudulently award  a N5.474 billion to a PortHarcourt  based  Company,  Signora Concept Services Limited for the procurement  of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, for health workers in  the nine states of the Commission  to support the fight against the pandemic. There are several of such fraudulent Contracts, in the agency, under the close watch of Pondei, a source said.  

     Given the allegations of corruptions against  the Pndei led IMC, may have  forced him  to speak out. He had  given reasons for  the too many abandoned projects in the states under the  agency to padded  budget by National Assembly NNDC Committee members.

 He gave  instance of  the 346.5 billion, 2019 budget of the agency which  was ‘’padded with  about 500 non-existing projects’’. An aggrieved  Pondei had   confirmed  that  “”a huge amount  was appropriated  for the bogus projects’’. 

This  may have exposed  the NNDC  Committee members  to the  contract  racketeering and corruption in the agency  when the Professor  revealed  what obtains when the agency yearly  budget are  sent to the  Committees  for review. He noted  that  when  it was sent back to the agency “”it was not  recgnisable”, fueling speculations that the Lawmakers had put their pecuniary interest on it.

The NNDC  acting Managing Director who could not hide his feelings  had said that  the budget appropriation was done in  such a way  that approved projects  for Communities  were allocated very little sums of money. He may have exposed the rot in the agency when  he disclosed  that the implementation of the 2019 budgetary allocations  will expire on May 31, 2020, without any project being executed in the region

. The question on the lips of most people was: what happened to the money  allocated  for Capital projects  from  the  N346.65 billion budgetary allocation to the agency. This is because there had not been any report  in the last 10 years that  the agency  had returned  any  amount that was not spent back  into the Federation Account .

 The  NDDC Committee members in the 8th National Assembly  may have known that the game was up that they were said to have put up pressure  on Pondei,   not to ‘’submit  certain files to the Forensic Auditors looking into the books of the agency  between 2001 and now to avoid being indicted and thus,  encourage the Ibrahim Magu led Economic  and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to go after them.

Stephen Ubanna

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July 2021

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