N’Delta: Stakeholders show concern over alleged abandoned projects

Some stakeholders in the Niger Delta region on Friday discussed the spate of abandoned and uncompleted projects in the Niger Delta region by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) calling for completion of the projects.

The discussion was held during a Radio Town Hall meeting organised by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG).

Felix Mamode Akugha, the moderator of the town hall meeting said well-meaning Nigerians were disturbed by the level of mismanagement and financial impropriety leading to abandoned and uncompleted projects across the Niger Delta region.

Darlington Nwauju, a native of Rivers State who was a guest at the town-hall meeting said.

Rivers State has been unable to crawl out of the hole of abandoned projects and has a historical perspective to it.

Nwauju added that a Presidential Intervention Committee of the NDDC had abandoned over 1,100 projects out of 1,338 projects it claimed to have embarked upon.

According to him, a good example of abandoned projects in Rivers State is the NDDC headquarters in Port-Harcourt, a contract, he said was awarded over 23 years ago.

“On June 12 this year, Mr President actually promised that the project would soon be commissioned and two months after that particular presidential broadcast nothing has happened, we only saw a committee,” Nwauju said.

Umuakpo Oviemuno, who hails from Delta State said the NDDC headquarters and other zonal offices have signposted the true picture of the commission.

“A tour of the Emevor-Oregun road which was awarded over 10 years ago by NDDC at an initial cost of about N3 billion as at today even with the variation, the project has gone up more than the initial cost of award and was split into four lots by the politicians or legislators who are contractors to NDDC,” Oviemuno said.

He added that since 2006 when the road was awarded and re-awarded in 2009, it is still the same sad situation and not even up to 30 per cent completion.

A recording of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli was played when he visited the Koko community where a shoreline protection project was shoddily executed.

“This is not a job at all, I feel bad that such a shoddy job is done in my community, some time ago, the Koko is a very special community in our kingdom,” the traditional ruler lamented in the video.

“There is a Nigerian Port Authority here and it is a world-class museum and everybody comes here from all over the world and this is the only road leading to the community that was why they said to let them install shoreline protection but this cannot stand the test of time.

“I have seen shoreline protection all over the place, but I have not seen anyone like this. This job should be terminated and a good contractor should be gotten to come and do the job for us.”

That’s the solution or they should let the contractor know that this is not a good job so that it would protect the community and the people that are visiting the shoreline.”

According to him, the people under his leadership appreciated government’s efforts in the region but were not satisfied with the projects executed.

“Tell Mr president that we appreciate him for this job but this is unacceptable to me and my people,” the Olu of Warri said.

Orubo Ogisaman from Bayelsa State who also joined the meeting stated that another shoreline protection by the NDDC in Otuabagi community in the state has been abandoned for more than seven years.

“The shoreline protection, the contractor has resumed work and has done 20 per cent of the project but the project was awarded in 2013 and it was started this year due to the forensic audit, efforts by the community leaders petition to the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Crimes (ICPC) before he mobilized to the site in 2020,” Ogisaman noted.

They all submitted that the Federal Government must clean up the mess that has taken over the Commission and ensure that all the abandoned projects are completed to serve the people of the region.

 The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which has established to cater to the development needs of the region has been at the centre of series of financial scams following mind-boggling revelations that are coming out of it in recent times.

Cairo Ojougboh, the Executive Director in charge of projects at the Commission recently said Nigerians would be shocked if the list of persons involved in contract scam at the Commission is released.

On Friday, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it has secured a final forfeiture of a N250 million traced to the account of a former Managing Director of the Commission.

In a statement, Dele Oyewale, Head, Media and Publicity at the EFCC said the anti-graft agency believed that the money was a kickback from a contract awarded by the NDDC.

The Commission did not name the former NDDC managing director in whose account the money was traced.

In August, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said it quizzed top management staff of the NDDC over allegations bothering on diversion of funds, procurement fraud and misappropriation of the Commission’s COVID-19 funds.

“The NDDC officials are being investigated for complicity in an alleged diversion of N5.474 billion meant for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the nine states of NDDC,” the ICPC said in a statement.

The anti-graft agency stated that it was also investigating the payments of millions of naira to staff of the agency for foreign training during the COVID-19 full lockdown which were never attended, as well as the non-payment of entitlements to students on foreign scholarships.

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