The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is said to have saved N35 billion from its verified payments to contractors. This disclosure was made by NDDC’s acting Executive Director (Projects), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, on Friday while addressing reporters in Port Harcourt, its headquarters in Rivers State.
Ojougboh, who is the Chairman of the newly constituted committee for the completion and commissioning of NDDC’s new permanent headquarters at the Eastern By-Pass, Port-Harcourt, disclosed shortly after the inauguration of the Committee that the commission has also verified the payments for N1.5 trillion for other projects.
He averred that work on the office complex was at 98 per cent completion stage. “As you can see, the lifts and escalators are working, the lights and the central air conditioners are functioning. You have seen the external works, so I want to tell you that what is left is the ancillary building, the windows are already in place. You have also seen the asphalts, so we are good to go,” the NDDC executive director was quoted as telling reporters in a statement by the commission’s spokesman, Charles Odili.
He noted though that, “There were lots of booby-traps which made it impossible for this building to be ready before now, but we thank God for the successes we have recorded empathizing that change has come to the NDDC and things will no longer remain the way they used to be.
Ojougboh commended President Muhammadu Buhari for effecting the change in NDDC, noting that even when the IMC leaves, those coming in would be more careful.
And on corruption allegations plaguing the commission, he said they have compiled the lists of those who benefited from the agency’s contracts for another three years. Said he, “As for the list of contractors we published, that was for 2018 alone; by the time we publish that of 2019, a lot of things will come out to the open. Some persons claim they did not benefit from NDDC but we have documents linking them to those contracts. The forensic audit is unearthing a lot of things; 2016, 2017 and 2019 lists are ready but we have decided we would not be distracted again.”
The acting Executive Director (Projects) also claimed that the NDDC budget for 2019 was distorted to the detriment of regional projects, citing the example of regional hospital projects that were starved of funds. “We made provision for hospitals in all Niger Delta states as our regional projects, but it was removed and replaced with the supply of chairs to schools in the region.” And on this matter he said that the NDDC had written letters to the National Assembly to explain why N11.6 billion budgeted for the completion of hospitals was removed and replaced with the supply of chairs and desks.