…Charges new board to make the difference
By Egufe Yafugborhi
GOVERNOR Nyesom Wike of Rivers state has accused Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) management of laying claim and signing off money for a project executed by the Rivers State Government.
Wike raised the allegation Friday at the Government House, Port Harcourt during a visit by the new board of the commission led by its Chairman, Mrs. Lauretta Ifeanyi Onochie who he charged to make the difference.
He narrated to the visitors how, “NDDC fraudulently claimed to have reconstructed the Chokocho- Igwuruta Road, and signed off the money when in actual fact, the road was reconstructed and delivered by his administration.”
Governor Wike also represented Rivers government demand notice on the commission to pay up its counterpart fund of N2.5billion (50%) of the N5 billion mutually agreed between both parties for the reconstruction of the dualised Eastern By-pass Road leading to NDDC Headquarters.
The governor said NDDC had entered into similar agreement for the construction of the Mother and Child Hospital, collected the counterpart fund released by the Rivers State government and refused to pay up theirs.
He said his administration eventually jettisoned the agreement and footed the entire bills and completed the construction of the hospital.
Urging the new NDDC board to make the difference, Wike told Onochie, “I read what you said that things will be done differently. I want to believe you’re sincere. Sometimes, I feel ashamed where I come from. We talk about underdevelopment, but look at the amount of money that has passed through NDDC, then look at the projects on ground.
“There is what we call regional development projects that can link up two states, those are the kind of things NDDC should go for and give it to competent contractors. Leave these political contractors. Leave all these portfolio contractors. Leave them alone. You have come to my state and you have seen what I have done.
“If I didn’t use Julius Berger and had used these political contractors, you won’t have seen anything here. Of course, you know how expensive Julius Berger is. From 2019 till now, we have done 12 Flyovers by Julius Berger. You know how much we are talking about and you can replicate that. Even though they are expensive, but you’ll see the value.
“NDDC has become a cash cow for politicians. Look back in the money NDDC lost in this state just to win election here. N10 B wasted. N10B you could have used to construct a mega project in the State.”
Governor Wike noted how NDDC, often, enters and award projects in States including Rivers without recourse to existing development master plan as, according to him, what is seen eventually, is duplication of projects.
In her remarks to the governor, the NDDC Chairman had said, “The development that has taken place in Port Harcourt, let me speak about the one I have seen, is amazing and it’s brilliant. And I want to thank you.
“We are here to ask for your guidance. You have said and know, and you have spoken about the poor services that NDDC have been known for. Trillions of Naira has been pumped into this commission and we have little or nothing to show for it. We are here now, very determined to do things differently.”