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Exclusive: Reps Order NDDC to Set Aside 70% of 2020 Budget for 600 Contractors

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Reps, Air Force

*As Lack of Funding from Speaker, Stalls Presentation of Report

By Tordue Salem, Abuja

A House of Representatives ad hoc Committee report has ordered the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to set aside 70 per cent of its budget for 2020, to pay over 600 contractors being owed by the Commission. 
The contract debts have led to the abandonment of over a thousand contracts in the area, worth a trillion naira.
Chairman of the panel that was set up last year to probe reasons for abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, Rep. Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta), disclosed this to VANGUARD yesterday.

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“Our report has asked the NDDC, to set aside 70% of their 2020 budget to pay over 600 contractors”, he disclosed to the reporter in his office yesterday.
He also disclosed that his report asked the NDDC to desist from the “clearing of water hyacinths on Niger Delta waters, as this is is a clear avenue to siphon public funds”.
The lawmaker, however, decried that though his committee would have finished the probe and submitted the report since October last year, a lack of funding by the leadership of the House is stalling it.
Recall that on August 27, 2019, VANGUARD exclusively reported that the House of Representatives had commenced an enquiry into alleged abandonment of capital projects in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta and Rivers states. 

The committee also summoned governors of Niger Delta states, ministries and other agencies of government to explain their roles in the abandonment of the projects.

Those summoned by the Ad hoc Committee, were Ministries of Niger Delta, Justice, Finance, NDDC, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Accountant General of Federation; Auditor-General; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC;  Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offence Commission, ICPC; all registered contractors with NDDC; traditional institutions; international donor agencies; civil society organizations; non-governmental organisations; community leaders in Niger Delta; governments of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Imo, Delta, Rivers and Ondo states.

The House, later in December 2019,  also summoned the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), over allegations that its contractors abandoned constructions of Onicha-aku/Idumuje, Onicha-uku/Idumu-Ogo roads and Onicha-uku Civic Centre projects.
The motion was sponsored by Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta).
In his motion, he noted “with serious concern, that Messes Ninno Engineering Limited, was awarded the construction of Onicha-uku/Idumuje Unor Link road, while Messrs Quintus Investment Co. Nigeria Limited, was awarded the Onicha-uku/Idumu-Ogo Link road and Messrs petrol gas specialist limited was awarded the construction of Onicha-uku Civic Centre in 2012 by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will contract execution period of six months.
He said he was aware that “NDDC mobilized the contractors since 2012 for the three projects”, but regretted that “since the contractors were mobilized to go to the sites, nothing has been done on any of the roads and the land allotted for the Civic Centre has long become a forest, overgrown by weeds and trees with an uncompleted structure inside”.
The lawmaker said he was concerned by the inability to complete the construction of these roads, has hampered the socio-economic activities of these environments, thereby causing untold hardships on the indigenes living within the localities.
He told the House that from the information available, the contractors after being mobilised, have abandoned the projects and absconded without doing the job as contained in the contractual agreement.
The former Chairman, House Committee on Power, told the House that “all efforts made to bring the contractors back to sites have proved abortive, while all monies paid to them as mobilizations have gone, with the winds”.
The lawmaker said he was even angrier, that the contractors were not remorseful, leading to the summons of the NDDC management.

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