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IMC: N1.3trn contracts ‘fraudulently’ awarded in NDDC

IMC: N1.3trn contracts ‘fraudulently’ awarded in NDDC

The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has revealed that contracts worth over N1.3 trillion were fraudulently awarded at the commission in the past three years. The committee stated that the value of the contracts exceeded the interventionist agency’s budget.

IMC said that in 2017 2018 and 2019, the commission “criminally” awarded over 3,000 emergency contracts jointly worth N1.3 trillion. Chairman of the contract verification committee, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, who disclosed this yesterday during a press conference, noted that despite the fact that the yearly NDDC budget “is hardly above N400 billion”, contracts worth more than N1.3 trillion were hurriedly awarded to undeserving contractors within a year.According to him, NDDC was on the verge of collapse before President Muhammadu Buhari intervened. Ojougboh, who is also NDDC’s Acting Executive Director Projects, said: “It is now common knowledge that some of the awards were not only spurious, but criminal as records available to us show that most of the awards were not backed by budget, has neither bills of engineering measurement nor drawings, and were just open cheque for contractors and their collaborators to fill in at the nearest banks.

“For instance, in 2017, the commission awarded a total of 201 emergency contracts valued at N100,396,879,001.06; in 2018, a total 1,057 emergency contracts valued at N162,688,289,333.05; and just seven months of 2019, a total 1,921 emergency contracts valued at N1,070,249,631,757.70. “So we are talking of a total of over N1.3 trillion in less than three years.

The yearly budget of the NDDC is hardly above N400 billion and a situation where contracts that do not qualify for emergencies were fraudulently awarded to over N1 trillion valued in less than one year amounts to ‘not only stealing from the pulpit but stealing the entire pulpit’.” He added that the contract verification committee has laid foundation for the forensic audit of the activities of the commission from inception to date in line with the directive of the President.

He said: “To this end, all contractors, consultants (design and supervision), vendors, suppliers and NGOs or their certified representatives who have business transactions with the commission, are thus requested to report with three photocopies each of their letters of award, Contract Agreement, and Interim Payment Certificate (where applicable), and also to present originals for assessment, evaluation and verification to the NDDC office where such business is located. “They are also to present letters detailing a brief statement or summary of their claims/requests on their headed papers with verifiable addresses and certified true copies of their company registration documents.” He added: “If President Buhari did not order this forensic audit, the NDDC would have been grounded to a stop, killed and buried.

“Mind boggling you might say, the verification exercise will expose those spurious contracts. Contractors with fake or spurious awards are advised in their best interest to stay away from the various centres.” Ojougboh, who is the Chairman of the Contract Verification Committee, explained that the twoweek exercise would cover all completed, as well as on-going projects and programmes of the commission. He observed that the NDDC was set up not only to offer a lasting solution to the socio-economic and environmental problems of the Niger Delta region by conceiving and implementing plans aimed at developing the infrastructure, human capacity building, but also complement the efforts of the various state governments and other developmental agencies in the region.

Ojougboh said: “Whilst successive leadership of the NDDC may have done their best, today, the general conclusion of most stakeholders in the region is that the NDDC has not delivered on its mandate. At best, it has been a lack-lustre performance, with very little to show for the humongous resources that have accrued to it over the past 19 years. “Stories of pervasive corruption, flagrant abuse of due process, abandoned projects, poor quality project delivery, etc. at the NDDC, have adorned our media space over the years. “In an effort to stem this unfortunate tide, governors of the nine states of the region, a couple of months ago, visited President Buhari to not only lay bare their perception of the commission since its inception, but to also, as members of the Advisory Council of the NDDC, offer useful advice on the way forward to the President. The result of this historic visit is the ordering of a forensic audit of the activities of the NDDC from inception to date by the President.” President Buhari had ordered a forensic audit of the Commission and appointed an IMC, headed by Acting Managing Director, Gbene Dr. Joi Nunieh. Other members of the Committee are Barr. Ibanga Etang, Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, and Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, Acting Executive Director, Projects.

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