By Musa Baba Adamu
The Chief Whip of the Senate and former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has clarified his position on the ongoing contract scam in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Reacting yesterday to allegation by Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godwill Akpabio, Sen Kalu accused the agency of not paying for contracts of roads he facilitated.
Sen Akpabio had listed ex governors Emmanuel Uduaghan, James Ibori , Senator Ifeanyi Ararume , Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and others as personalities who benefitted from the NDDC contracts.
Kalu said he believes the issues at stake in the NDDC had to do with missing funds and not works done , adding that he was becoming worried over his name being used indiscriminately to sell newspapers without verifications .
According to the Chief Whip , the road projects mentioned by the Honourable Minister are the interventions he facilitated for the communities as a private citizen before he became a Senator.
He said his name was mentioned “because he used his letter headed paper to write a sympathetic letter to the NDDC in 2016 requesting and pleading with the body to rescue roads in Abia.”
He also noted his relationship with Sen Akpabio “dates years back and long before he (Kalu) became a Governor, adding that he would still request for more road interventions from Akpabio.
“I was Governor of Abia State between 1999-2007 and never held any public office until June 11, 2019 when I was sworn in as a Senator. Between 2016- 2018 during my tour to several communities; leaders and welfare unions of most communities pleaded for urgent intervention on some dilapidated roads . I wrote to the NDDC informing the body of the conditions of these roads and the need for their attention since Abia is an NDDC state .
“The NDDC in their consideration which I am very grateful to, awarded the roads to companies that duly tendered for the projects and not myself. Whatever link I have with the projects is because it was considered due to my intervention.”
He also noted that the NDDC that awarded these projects were not any of the interim management in controversy but the fully constituted body of NDDC with its board.
“The roads I requested for intervention as mentioned by the Honourable Minister were repairs of Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu Road ;Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru Ring Road, Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze ; Ndi Oji Abam-Atan Road ; the Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende road and Ozu-Amuru-Abam Road .
“The contractors have completed and delivered these roads long time ago except Abam-Atani road which I learnt from the contractors was slowed down due to rain but still ongoing.
“Meanwhile, it would interest Nigerians to know that the contractors who built these roads have not been paid any dime . It has not been easy with the contractors but because it’s a community project they have only but kept hope alive on the NDDC.”