As NNDC Budgets N346, 388, 921, 000 for 2019
No one can pressurise us to pay for Jobs not done, Fake Contractors are pushing us to pay them, Acting MD of NDDC
Says Contractors Awarded Contracts without Registration, a Contract Awarded 55 Times
Begs Senate to Protect her
Says she is not aware of 300 Projects to a Senator, it is mere Media Propaganda
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate has thrown its weight behind the three-man Committee put in place to oversee the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC commission to create an enabling environment for the audit.
As part of being on the same page with the Federal Government on the Committee, the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh led her team to defend the 2019 Budget estimate of N346,388,921,000 based on revenue projection, representing 13 percent decrease over the 2018 Revenue.
Presenting the Budget before the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, Party, PDP, Delta North led Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Acting Managing Director of NNDC told the Senate that though the Committee was under immense pressure by those she described as fake Contractors to pay them, said that the interim board will not be pressurisedby anyone one to pay for Jobs that were not carried out.
She said, ” I have been under so much pressure and blackmail because I have been pressurised to pay contractors quickly. Everyone has complained that the people in our region are hungry. But we belong to those communities and the communities must take ownership of tbe projects.
“So, I assure that we are not going to be under any pressure to pay contractors that have not performed. We have started verification exercise. A lot of embarrassing things have happened.”
According to her, her Committee has discovered that a particular contract was awarded 55 times, just as she said that the Committee uncovered over 55 Interim Payment Certificate, IPC of a Contract Awarded in particular state, adding that the Committee has discovered that some of the projects were not properly bidded for, adding, “We are calling on the NGOs, the local government chairmen, members of the CDC, the community will be out there during the assessment exercises.
“Everyone has a photograph of a job that is well-finished. Sometimes, I get the same photos for different projects. In submitting the list to the governors of the nine states, we have found out duplications. People have collected contracts for the same roads from the state government. They have collected from FERMA and then they come to NDDC and collwct the same road project.
“If I have a friend doing Road A at a place and I know about, I come to NDDC and collect funds for the same road. We have also someone wbo has over 55 IPCs or blocs for the same contract I think is in Cross River or Akwa IBom State. That contract has been awarded 55 times.”
Nunieh who disclosed that all projects below 20 percent execution by Contractors have been cancelled, said that most abandoned projects were awarded under what she termed, under deceitful guise of emergency projects, adding that projects were awarded to friends without evidence of registration.
She said, “Some contractors got awarded contracts before their companies were registered. Some of them are not registered. They have so many fake IPCs. Almost everyone you see in Nigeria, has an IPC. There is no emergency job that has the stated sum on the award letter. So, they awarded a contract without an actual sum. We have contacted the council of Quantity Surveyors and the likes to look at this projects with our teams thay we have put together.”
When asked to speak on allegations that a serving Senator has 300 Projects, the Acting Managing Director of NDDC said that she was not aware of such as that amounts to what she described as media propaganda.
Nunieh who told the Senate that the Interim government Committee has stopped Medical Assistance, said that when the Committee came on board, it met on ground,5,000 medical requests and they are not from poor people in the Niger Delta Region, just as she said that instead of giving 200 Scholarship for those who do not deserve it, the Management team has resolved to give the scholarship to Nigerians with one per ward.
Speaking on the award of Water Hyacinth Emergency and Desilting Contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC for a period of two years from 2017 to 2019, she told the Senate that the budget for the project was N800 million, but N10.3 Billion was spent.
She said, “In the case of water hisent, the amount budgeted was N800 million but what was spent was 10.3 billion.For distilting, N2 billion in the budget and what was spent was N 37 billion.”
The NDDC Acting Managing Director said, ” I know that there are a lot of misplaced projects in this budget and that is what we are trying to correct in this new position.
“Now, we are trying to ensure thay there is proper assessment for projects to be taken to various communities. We’re not just going to say “yes, I know Mr X so let’s buold a stadium for them. I had liked to say thay we are particular about the environmental impact assessment.
“We want to ensure that when NDDC goes to a community to do a project, they should be able to provide proof that the plot of land has been donated to the Commission. Some residents latee come to claim a plot of land after a structure has been built.
“The pressure and the blackmail that I have refused to pay money quickly, is getting embarrassing, but I know that the community stands with us. The communities are waiting for the assessment. I want to assure this committee that history will never repeat itself.
“For scholarships, we have decided that instead of giving 200 scholarships to people that don’t deserve it, who have connections. We would rather have scholarships within Nigeria for Masters degree in every ward. One person per ward. For every first class student.
“We have also stopped Medi-Cal assistance. When we came there were 5000 medical requests not bu any poor NIGERIAN. all of those who can afford it, some have travellers abroad and come back.”
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had reversed himself on the appointment of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, saying that the Senate should wait for him for a new list of board members that he would send for Confirmation by the Upper Chamber.
In a letter to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari and read by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan on the floor of the Senate, the earlier confirmed board members by the Senate should be put on hold, pending the conclusion of work by the Interim Management Committee that is carrying out a forensic Audit of the Commission.
The letter from the President was dated 27th December, 2019 and received 11th January, 2020.
President Buhari’s letter read: “I write to intimate the Senate of the development concerning the appointment of the board of NDDC.
“The Senate may wish to note that after the dissolution of the board of NDDC,an interim management team was set up to manage the affairs of the commission before a new board was composed and sent for Senate confirmation.
“The Senate is invited to note that while the process of composition and senate confirmation of the appointment of the board was on-going.
“I had directed that the forensic audit of the commission be carried out which is being overseen by the constituted interim management team.
“Based in this and in order to allow for uninterrupted process of forensic investigation , the board appointment confirmed by the Senate has to be put on hold.
“This is to allow the interim team continue to manage the commission pending the outcome of the forensic audit.
“Thereafter, a new board of the commission will be re-composed for the confirmation by the Senate.
“Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the Assurances of My highest consideration.”
The Senate had on 29th October read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari requesting for the screening and subsequent confirmation of former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu as Chairman, Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Odubu was deputy to the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole when he was governor of Edo State.
In a letter read during plenary by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, President Buhari had also requested for the confirmation of fifteen other members of the board.
The letter written by President Buhari was dated 18th October, 2019 and entitled, “Confirmation of the Appointments of the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC” and was received 22 October 2019 by the Office of the President of the Senate.
The letter had read, “In accordance with the provisions of Section 2(2)(a) of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) (Establishment ) Act, 2000, I write to forward for confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the under listed nominees for appointment into the NDDC Board, to occupy the positions indicated against their names. The nominees’ CVs are attached herewith.
” While hoping that the Senate will consider and confirm the Nominees in the usual expeditious manner, please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
According to the letter, the board members are Bernard Okumagba from Delta State, who will serve as Managing Director; Otobong Ndem from Akwa Ibom, who was appointed the Executive Director, Projects and Maxwell Oko from Bayelsa as Executive Director, Finance and Administration
Others are Prophet Jones Erue Delta State Representative; Chief Victor Ekhatar to represent Edo State; Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh for Rivers State; Nwogu Nwogu, representing Abia State; Theodore Allison from Bayelsa State; Victor Antai from Akwa Ibom State; Maurice Effiwatt from Cross River State; Olugbenga Edema from Ondo State; Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian from Imo State; and Aisha Murtala Muhammed from Kano State representing North-West area on the board.
From Adamawa State to represent North- East on the NDDC board is Shuaibu Ardo Zubairu and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage from Nasarawa State representing North- Central.
Senator Lawan then referred the names to the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North led Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to carry out the screening and report back at Plenary in one week.
With the development, the Senator Nwaoboshi led Committee immediately swang into action to Screen and subsequently confirm the Nominees.
There was however no representative for South West as against the earlier list published by the President.
Also recall that the Senate had last year, November 5, confirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for the board of NDDC.
The former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, was confirmed by the Senate as Chairman of the NDDC Board, just as a nominee from Delta State, Chief Bernard Okumagba, was also confirmed as the NDDC Managing Director.
The confirmation followed the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs by its Chairman, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North
Also confirmed were Otobong Ndem as the Executive Director, Projects and Maxwell Oko as the Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
The Senate had also confirmed Prophet Jones Erue (Delta), Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo), Nwogu Nwogu (Abia), Theodore Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Elema (Ondo), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano), Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa) and Amb. Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa).
Only a nominee from Rivers State, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh was not confirmed by the Senate as she did not appear for screening.
Recall that the Interim Committee was set up by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and he currently manages the Commission.
Also recall that Akpabio had said that the three-man Committee will oversee the management of the commission to create an “enabling environment” for the audit.
He said Buhari approved the appointment of Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh as the Acting Managing Director; Cairo Ojougboh, as acting executive director, projects; and Ibanga Bassey, as acting executive Director, Finance and Administration.
Akpabio had asked the interim committee to discharge their duties ”without fear or favour”.
He said the outcome of the committee’s work will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people of the Niger Delta region.
Also recall that the Senate had on Tuesday, 26th November, 2019, said that those it screened and subsequently confirmed as Chairman and board members of the NDDC are the only rightful people that will come and defend the budget of the Commission before its Committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
The Senate had also last year urged President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, swear in the Dr. Pius Odubu led NDDC Board.