By Chris Ochayi – Owerri
The forensic auditing firm, BBC Professional, hired by the Federal Government to investigate projects awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in Imo state has commenced physical verification of projects executed by the Commission in the state.
The firm handling the Lot 8 segment of the forensic audit exercise which is ongoing across the nine states that made up the Niger Delta region has just commenced works last Thursday due to the civil disturbances witnessed in Imo state in the last few weeks.
The physical verification exercise was flagged off by the Federal Government on April 17, 2021, but the exercise could not start in Imo state on scheduled on account of security challenge experienced in the state.
Although the report of the forensic audit of the Commission was expected to reach President Muhammadu Buhari’s desk before July 31.
This development might, however, necessitate the audit firm which is handling over 1,000 cases in the state to ask for an extension of time to pave the way for a comprehensive exercise.
Though the timely submission of the report will also facilitate the inauguration of a substantive board for the NDDC by the Federal Government.
Speaking with journalists during the physical verification exercise of the Commission’s projects at Umuokanne and other communities in Ohaji Egbema, the team leader of the audit firm, Mrs Gloria Wgwuenu, noted that apart from starting the exercise behind schedule, the firm was also finding it difficult to access the location of some of the projects.
According to her, ”We commenced last week Thursday because of the security situation in Imo State. some other States have started before now.
“But of the security situation, we are like the third batch that came in for the physical verification of the projects.
”So far, we have over 1,000 projects in this state and we just covered few. We can’t really say this is the specific project.
”We can’t specifically state this because we have different classes of projects. Some did not start, some started, some ongoing.
”Though we did not see any of the contractors on the project site we have visited. Some are completed, some are not even in use, and some are vandalised.
”So, these are the categories of what we have seen so far. We are still on it”.
On whether the firm can meet the July dateline for submission of thief finding’s, she said ”I can’t say because we just started. I can’t say.
”You know sometimes to even locate a project site is difficult and that is why we have these in-house people that can really trace, use the description in the paper, in all available documents, to locate those places.
On whether the audit firm we ask for an extension of time given the high volume of work to be done, Mrs Egwuenu said, ”Yes, yes”.
In his remarks earlier, the Deputy Director, Projects at the NDDC, Engr. Raymond Ogara, said the state has benefited from so many projects executed by the Commission.
According to him, “The road which is called Obinze/Umuokanne/Ilile/Umuapo road links Oduga, Umuolo, Umuezita, Umuobogwo, then the second road project which has been completed for a long time passed through Umuobogwo and Umuokuzu.
“The water project in Umuezita was intended to go not more than 1km from the engine house, it was complete and later went bad, but currently rehabilitated, and the reticulation is intended to cover up to 3km.
“We also have have transformers sited at Umuolo and Umuokuzu, they completed and functional.
“We inspected an injection centre sub-station of 1/15 MVA that was intended to power the entire Ohaji from Umuokanne, the community has provided the land, but the contractor has not mobilized to site”, he said.
Engineer Ogara further said that NDDC also built a 6 classroom block with offices and toilet facilities, a Science Laboratory block for a secondary school in Umuezita.
“Our flagship projects are renovation of schools, and most of them are found in Egbema axis where the schools became dilapidated and there was need to give it a face-lift, NDDC was prompt and they are in good conditions”, he added.