August 16, 2020

NDDC: N833 billion in 19 years as failed projects litter N-Delta

NDDC forensic audit report must not enter voicemail — SESSPN

By Dayo Johnson, Michael Eboh, Samuel Oyadongha, Egufe Yafugborhi, Ozioruva Aliu, Chioma Onuegbu, Ugochukwu Alaribe & Emma Una

Irrespective of N832.93 billion the Budget Office, Ministry of Finance and National Planning, reported to have been released to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, from 2001 -2020, findings by Sunday Vanguard across nine Niger Delta states revealed a litany of failed projects.

The projects, which are mainly road construction, provision of water and electricity, construction and rehabilitation of hospitals and school construction, sea embankment, dredging of rivers, and construction of bridges, were mostly abandoned after laying of foundation, totally abandoned, or poorly done.

This is the case in Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Delta states.

The situation in Imo could not be ascertained by our correspondent as of press time.

In all these states, it was difficult to identify any star project executed by the Commission.

Signboards of proposed projects or better still awarded contracts showing the names of the projects, contractor(s), and duration are common sights. Weeds were found to have taken over most of the project sites.

RIVERS: Substandard, abandoned

The headquarters building project on Eastern Bypass, Port Harcourt, remains the flagship project of the commission in Rivers State.

But it has not been completed 20 years after flag-off.

NDDC has a reputation for failed and abandoned projects in Rivers. Some of them include Ejekwu Wike Close of Ada George Road, Port Harcourt, Chokocho/Umuayagu Road, Etche Local Government Area,LGA, Okarki-Udoda in Ahmadabad West LGA, emergency repairs on Housing Estate Woji, Obio Akpor LGA, and emergency repairs on Woji Road 26, and Federal Housing Estate among others.

Before his sack, a former Managing Director of the Commission, Prof Nelson Briambaifa, in 2019, had told Governor Nyesom Wike that NDDC had at the time, “undertaken 1793 projects, out of which 800 have been completed and 540 yet to be completed, just as 103 new projects were awarded.”

An unimpressed, Wike had asked in doubt: “Mention one mega project by the NDDC anywhere in Rivers State? The only NDDC megaproject is the Mother and Child Hospital which was to be a joint project. NDDC duped Rivers State Government on the project. NDDC reneged on its agreement with the Rivers State Government on the Mother and Child Hospital.

“Even after the state government had released its counterpart fund of N800million, NDDC paid only N400Million. NDDC refused to pay any kobo from its N900million contribution. We have taken over the project, yet the NDDC has refused to refund our money. If the NDDC fails to refund our counterpart fund, we will drag the Commission to court.”

On the non-completion of NDDC headquarters, spokesman for Niger Delta Rights Advocate, NDRA, Darlington Nwaju, told Sunday Vanguard that: “The project has become the emblem of the failure of the Commission’s mandate to transform the region while swelling the private vaults of few power brokers and successive management .

To continue with the lies and cover-ups, acting Managing Director NDDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei and acting Executive Director Project (EDP), Dr. Cairo Ojugboh, relocated, to the uncompleted building to justify the boast by Sen Akpabio that the building will soon be commissioned by Mr. President. They moved in claiming the project was over 90 percent completed whereas they left every other directorate and numerous staff at the rented Aba Road Office.”

ABIA: Abandoned projects cause gully erosion

Communities hosting projects awarded by the NDDC in Abia State have decried the state of abandonment and poor execution of the projects.

Such projects cover roads, electricity, water, erosion control school renovation, solar power and health centres, among others.

Sunday Vanguard investigations revealed that only a negligible percentage of the over 600 projects awarded by the Commission in the state, has been completed.

In some areas, the contractors excavated the roads, dumped stones and disappeared, leaving the stones to constitute pains to road users. In others, the contractors did shoddy jobs as the roads have become worse than their former states.

It was also gathered that the projects are at different stages of completion with many fully paid for while others are not.

In many communities abandoned or badly executed NDDC road projects have caused gully erosions and flooding.

Sources alleged that some of the roads listed as ongoing or completed by NDDC had to be constructed by the state government, but this could not be confirmed as of press time

A common feature of some of the projects is the fact that they do not have signposts to indicate the contractor handling them, address and details of the contract.

One of such abandoned project is the construction of Apunali Ntighauzor Amaeri Road, Obingwa LGA, awarded in February 2015, at the cost of ¦ 244,394, 000.00. The contract has reached 50 percent completion before the contractor abandoned it.

For the contract for the construction of Owo-Ahafor-Umunkiri-Nenu-Mgbokonta Road, awarded at the cost of ¦ 199,780,000.00; a resident of the area, Chijoke Amaechi , said the contractor was yet to mobilize to site since the contract was awarded in September 2017.

The contractor for the construction of Umuchichi Seven Up Road, awarded in February 2015 at the cost of ¦ 138,431,158.00, mobilised to site and abandoned the contract.

The traditional ruler of Isiala Ntighauzo in Obingwa LGA, Eze Nwakwue Akpulonu, wants NDDC to complete the rehabilitation of the Ohanze Isiahia –Ntighauzo road to ease the suffering of his people.

When Sunday Vanguard visited the area, there was no signpost to indicate the name of the contractor, his address as well as details of the contract.

In a chat, the lawmaker representing Obingwa East in the Abia State House of Assembly, Chief Solomon Akpulonu, decried the level of abandonment of NDDC projects in the state and urged the Commission to award contracts only to credible companies.

Contacted on the status of NDDC projects in the state, Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu , disclosed that the state government had set up a committee to verify NDDC projects across the 17 council areas of the state and would soon release the report.

A case in point is the flooding at Amaogwugwu Ohuhu in Umuahia North LGA that was caused by an abandoned NDDC road project. Abandoned NDDC projects have been causing the emergence of gullies over the years.

A typical example is the Umunwanwa-Obizi Achingala Road awarded by NDDC and listed as 45 percent completed. The contractor excavated the road, exposed NNPC pipelines and abandoned the project.

As the time of Sunday Vanguard’s visit to the site, the construction of Obohia – Ìhårå Aba Road relocated to Umuorie Asa, Ukwa West LGA, in May 2012, with the contract sum of ¦ 496,456,123.96, was yet to commence. The Construction of Asa Township Road Phase II in Ukwa West LGA , awarded in May 2012, with the contract sum of ¦ 200,000,000.00; also suffered a similar fate.

BAYELSA: Duplication of projects, abandonment

The NDDC had in 2017, said it awarded 941 projects in Bayelsa State, out of which 233 valued at N38.9bn had been completed and inaugurated but two years after its then acting Managing Director, Prof Nelson Brambaifa, who hitherto was the state representative on the board of the commission.

He had said the Commission had a total of 1,043 projects in Bayelsa. He added that 379 were ongoing while 185 others were to get off the ground.

However, major stakeholders told Sunday Vanguard that duplication of projects and outright abandonment are prevalent in Bayelsa. Some projects with a direct positive impact on rural communities were also executed.

Also, findings revealed that Biseni Water Scheme located at Biseni, a coastal community, a surface water treatment facility with a 50,000-gallon capacity tank designed to distribute water daily has not been completed.

The project was inaugurated in 2008, and known for its non-chemical filtration system using ultraviolent systems to kill germ, has remained comatose due largely to what a source blamed on funding.

The Sagbama-Ekeremor road project which was awarded by the NDDC during its early days suffered series of setbacks.

Similarly, the Amassoma shore protection project in Southern Ijaw LGA of the state has remained uncompleted.

Awarded in 2003 by the Commission at the cost of N2.2billion, the project has been abandoned since 2004.

In fact, a socio-political group, Niger Delta Zero Corruption Network, NDZECON, wants the Presidency to investigate and re-award the Amassoma shore protection contract to another contractor.

In the same vein, the people of Abobiri Community in Ogbia Local Government Area said there are abandoned NDDC water and internal road projects in the community.

Chairman, Council of Chiefs of Abobiri Community, Chief Balam Osain, said: “We don’t have good roads linking the community. The two NDDC projects are abandoned. We are appealing to NDDC to complete their abandoned water and road projects.”

However, NDDC constructed a bridge across the Tungbo Creek at Bolou Oru and took the road beyond Ebedebiri before the state government took over the project.

The multi-billion naira 18 kilometre Odi-Trofani road with five bridges link which traversed the lowland swampy stretch connecting Odi, Aduku and Trofani communities were constructed by NDDC.

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NDDC installed a 33Kv transmission line and carried out rehabilitation work on some lines in Odi town, making it possible for the area to enjoy power from the now moribund Kolo Creek gas turbine.

Sabageria in Kolokuma-Opokuma Council Area also has a network of modern roads with side drains courtesy of the Commission. It also linked Kaiama to the national grid in 2008 and constructed a shore protection work which has helped curb the perennial erosion menace in Kaiama community.

In Nembe, the 27-kilometer Ogbia-Nembe Road with seven bridges and more than 50 culverts, were constructed by NDDC and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.

EDO: ‘First in abandoned projects’

When Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was governor of Edo State, there were complaints about projects executed or being executed by NDDC.

So bad was it that Oshiomhole described the Commission as an embarrassment to South-South states.

He described NDDC as a “pot of honey which was meant for the people of the South-South to lick to minimize the bitterness arising from the devastation of oil exploration. While people celebrated the birth of this wonderful intervention agency, those who are there were behaving like old fashion people. They produced the honey and licked out of it and they will immediately run back to Abuja leaving the people to be distant spectators in a matter in which they are supposed to be the key beneficiaries”.

His successor, Godwin Obaseki, is still disturbed by the underperformance of the agency.

When he became governor, Obaseki wanted a situation where the NDDC would first send their job proposals to the state to ensure that they align with the standard of the state government before implementation.

There are numerous NDDC projects scattered across several parts of the state that are yet to be completed.

In Edo North, the Iruekpen – Sabongida-Ora part of the Iruekpen – Sabongida-Ora – Ifon Road that stretches from Edo to Ondo state is in perpetual rehabilitation most time sponsored by the NDDC.

In Edo South Senatorial District where oil-producing communities are situated, many NDDC projects are scattered in communities with less impact on the people.

Some of these projects include and NDDC road in Nomayo in Ikpoba-Okha, Ekososodin, a village near university of Benin populated by students of the institution, not less than seven adjourning roads along trade fair area in Benin City, off Ekenwan Road, street light within Omoruyi Road and environs off Sapele road and several others including water projects.

Concerned by the state of the projects, Governor Obaseki said his administration was supporting the forensic audit of the Commission, noting Edo ranks highest in the Commission’s abandoned projects list.

Obaseki said this when he received the then acting Managing Director of NDDC, Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh, with other members of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House in Benin City.

The governor also frowned on the top-to-bottom governance arrangement of the NDDC, adding that it can’t develop the region.

He said:” Those who supervised and managed these contracts and every other person found culpable must be made to face the law.

“The NDDC has not been fair to Edo State as we have more abandoned projects in the state than other states. We are disappointed with the old management and board of NDDC. We insist on the forensic audit to ensure such doesn’t happen again. I hope that with the new acting MD, we would begin to do the right thing and move the region forward.

“The truth is that the governance arrangement of NDDC from top to bottom can’t develop the region. Its DNA is corruption. We see how NDDC contracts are traded and how much premiums are paid on the contracts.’’

Obaseki even called for a probe into the utilisation of the N20 billion emergency funds allegedly expended by the NDDC on projects in the state.

He said the state government was exploring the option of suing contractors handling the Commission’s projects for delivering substandard projects, which caused flooding in parts of the state.

Obaseki threatened to stop the Commission’s contractors from executing sub-standard projects in Edo.

ONDO: Signposts, ghost projects

Findings in oil-rich communities in Ondo State showed that hundreds of projects including road construction, water and electricity, hospital, school construction, and sea embankment among others awarded by NDDC have been abandoned by various contractors engaged by the Commission.

A community leader, Idowu Kudehinbu, said the NDDC recently inaugurated a132/33KV Sub Station designed to provide electricity for over 2,000 communities in the area, adding that the project has been abandoned.

Another project abandoned by the NDDC is the dredging/reclamation of West-East Araromi-Oghoye canal (Etugbo-Ayetoro section) in Ilaje.

Findings also showed that the Ayetoro embankment project awarded for billions of naira was equally abandoned.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that the sea embankment contract was re-awarded over 12 years ago, yet nothing was found to have been done.

Aboto water project which was supposed to supply water to some communities in Ilaje areas was abandoned years ago.

The water project was almost completed but left in that state.

In Ilaje, the indigenes believe what the NDCC only does is to erect signposts with the inscription of multiple billion naira contracts without executing or completing many.

They said an independent assessment carried out in about 20 communities in Ilaje indicated that no fewer than 80 projects were discovered to have either been abandoned or not executed after collection of mobilisation fees between 2002 and 2012.

AKWA IBOM: Failed projects everywhere

It is easy to locate projects abandoned by the NDDC in Akwa Ibom because such non executed projects are littered across the communities.

Checks showed that the projects executed by the Commission in the state are mostly construction/repair of school blocks and internal roads.

Therefore, the thinking of majority of the indigenes and residents today is that intervention in roads, school blocks, borehole construction as well as the building of skills acquisition centres remain the only mandate of the Commission.

Further findings showed that only a few of such projects awarded were not executed, a development which explains the ceaseless complaints and controversy over NDDC projects in the state over the years.

Some of the executed and commissioned roads in the state include 28.6Kilometer road in Uquo, Esit Eket local government area awarded to one JCC construction Limited in 2011, and inaugurated in 2015 as well as Idung Atang Edem Road also in Esit Eket.

The agency also fixed the Ukana Offot Road in Uyo which was almost a deathtrap.

Among few visible ongoing key projects embarked upon by the NDDC are the construction of one female and one male hostel at the main campus of the University of Uyo, Nwaniba, Uyo, which commenced in 2018.

However, the project currently looks abandoned at the roofing state as there is no sign of work going on at the site.

A Skills Acquisition Training Centre sited in Ibeno LGA which was designed to train repentant militants was found to be at the completion stage.

It was gathered that not much work was done after many years until early this year 2020 when the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio visited the project site.

And because of the lack of impact of the Commission, some stakeholders from the state are quick to note that the agency was designed to fail.

National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd) in an interview with Vanguard, said: “The NDDC was established in such a way that it will fail.

“Right from the beginning, they didn’t want to establish it to benefit the Niger Delta people. I remember that they were even reluctant to establish it until our people protested and started to make a lot of noise.’’

CROSS RIVER: Case worsened by loss of oil wells

Our investigation showed that there are no major NDDC projects in Cross River State following the loss of oil wells to Akwa Ibom State.

The only projects here are roads and most of them are less than a kilometre long.

Many of the roads projects have been abandoned

Even Harcourt Road where Vanguard office in Calabar is located was awarded many years ago but abandoned

The Supreme Court had in the last dispensation, ceded 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom.

In the aftermath of the judgment, Godswill Akpabio, who was Akwa Ibom State governor at the time, offered to pay Cross River N250 million monthly as grant to cushion the pains of the loss.