The Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), Acting Executive Director Projects and Chairman Contract Verification Committee, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh said his committee has uncovered a scam in award of contracts valued at N1.3 trillion at the commission.
Ojougboh who disclosed this when he addressed a press conference in Abuja said NDDC would have long been killed and buried without the intervention of President Mohammadu Buhari.
According to him, the committee discovered that “In seven months in 2019, a total of 1,921 emergency contracts valued at N1, 070,349,631,757.70 were awarded while the unprocessed budget of the NDDC was N350, 000,000,000.00.
The Chairman who also disclosed that some of the awards were not only spurious, but criminal said available records showed that most of the awards were not backed by budget and has no bills of engineering.
He said the committee has therefore ordered that “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 Original 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 said the verification exercise is intended to establish the true position of the emergency regime between 2016 and 2019 in the Commission.
Ojougboh recalled that “the Ag. MD/CEO, Dr. Joi Nunieh had on Friday 10th January, 2020 in line with the directive of Mr. President inaugurated a Contract Verification Committee as a prelude to the ordered forensic audit, with my humble self as Chairman.
“It has thus become expedient of me as Chairman to address this press conference and make the following clarification.”
He noted that the NDDC came into existence via the NDDC Act 2000 (19 years ago), not only to offer a lasting solution to the social economic and environmental problems of the Niger Delta region by conceiving and implementing plans aimed at developing the infrastructure and human capacity building, but also to complement the efforts of the various state governments and other developmental agencies in the region.
“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 a lack-luster performance, with very little to show for the humongous resources that have accrued to it over the past 19 years.”
He regreted that stories of pervasive corruption, flagrant abuse of due process, abandoned projects, poor quality project delivery among others at the NDDC, have adorned the 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 His Excellency President Muhammadu 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.
“The President being a man of honor on 29th October, 2019 went on to appoint the Interim Management Committee (IMC) comprising of Gbene Dr. Joi Nunieh (Ag. MD/CEO), Chief Bassey Eteng (Ag. EDFA), and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, my humble self as Ag.EDP to oversee the forensic audit.
“The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in conjunction with the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in preparation for the commencement of the forensic audit have already secured the Certificate-of-No-Objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for the lead consultant for the forensic audit, while that of the sub-consultants is underway,” he said.
He further clarified that” the contract verification committee is therefore to lay a foundation for the forensic audit of the activities of the Commission from inception to date.”