*As commission squanders N64.4b on abandoned contracts
By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating contracts abandoned by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) yesterday summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Mr. Pius Odubu to appear before it unfailingly next Monday.
The House also summoned the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta, Pastor Usani and all former Managing Directors of NDDC.
Similarly, NDDC’s directors of finance and administration, agriculture and legal services, environmental control and supply as well as that of budget monitoring and supervision are to also appear before the committee.
The invited officials are to explain how contracts were awarded for various abandoned projects and which companies benefitted from the deals.
This is just as the committee learnt that so far, N64.4 billion have been frittered by the NDDC as mobilization fee for various contracts abandoned across the Niger Delta region with over 384 projects abandoned in Akwa Ibom and 115 in Ondo state.
Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta), who announced the invitation of the concern government officials on Tuesday at the investigative hearing in Abuja warned that failure by any of the invited stakeholders to honour the summons would result to issuance of warrant of arrest against them.
Ossai, whose order followed a motion by chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs, Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub (APC, Adamawa) warned that the House being representative of the people will not condone any action that would undermine its authority. He wondered why the acting managing director of NDDC could not attend the investigative hearing after “the minister of Niger Delta had directed him to honour our invitation.”
The chairman also frowned at the absence of other stakeholders including Bayelsa, Cross River and Edo States. Though Imo State government sent a representative, he could not make any presentation but rather asked for permission to be given time to prepare its submission.
Ossai, however explained that Delta State government could not attend the hearing because the letter to the state governor was not delivered on time.
Testifying before the ad hoc committee, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Emmanuel Udom disclosed that a total of 384 projects have been abandoned by the NDDC in different locations across the state. He explained that 148 of these projects were in Eket senatorial district, while 104 are in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district and 132 in Uyo central senatorial district.
Represented by the state Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Akparawa Inyangeyen further explained that some of the projects were abandoned for as long as 10 years, while some for 5 years and others in the last few years; and promised to get details of the defaulting contractors to the committee.
He lamented that the quality of job executed by the NDDC in Akwa Ibom was of very poor quality urging the parliament to impress on the commission to embrace international best practices in the execution of contracts.
“Honourable members, I want to bring to your attention that the roads constructed by NDDC across Akwa Ibom are of low standard. The contractors do not follow the designs.”
Also making his presentation, Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Commission, Mr. Gbenga Edema disclosed that the commission has 115 abandoned projects in the state.
Representative of the Aiyetoro Community in Ondo State, Otunba Dele Kudehinbu in his presentation informed that the Aiyetoro Shoreline protection project, which was first awarded in 2014 at the cost of N2.4 billion to Gallet Nig. Ltd. was re-awarded to another company in 2009 at the cost of N6.6 billion after the former had collected N650 million mobilization fee.
He said another project, the construction of concrete jetty in Aiyetoro, which was awarded in 2013 to Global Link Venture at the cost of N82 million had been abandoned since 2016 with work only 50 percent completed.
Briefing the ad hoc committee, the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) disclosed that since the inception of the NDDC, the federal government has released a total N738.025 billion as its contribution as enshrined in the act establishing it.
The AGF, who was represented by the Director in charge of Federation Account, Mr. Sabo Mohammed explained that this amount was outside of the contribution from international oil companies (IOCs).
In his submission, the Auditor General of the Federation disclosed that from the audit carried by his office from 2000 to august this year, it has discovered that a total of N64.4 billion has been wasted as mobilization fees on abandoned projects across the Niger Delta region.
Director of Audit in the OAGF, who represented the Auditor Ggeneral, told the investigative committee that it was shocking that after collecting mobilization fees, companies abandon projects explaining that the report of the audit has been submitted to government.
Also at the investigative hearing, the Olu of Warri, His Majesty Ogiamen Ikenwoli lamented that some projects awarded by the NDDC in Delta State since 2006 were still ongoing, yet there is nothing concrete on ground.
According to the traditional ruler, who was represented by the Ogua Olusan of Warri, Chief Brown Mene, said the communities in the state were being eroded by exploration activities.