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.
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.