N1trn debt: Reps query Acting NDDC MD, summon Alaibe, Ekere, others

The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on abandoned projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), on Thursday, summoned all the former and current Managing Director and Chief Executive Officers and the Executive Directors of Finance of the Commission over unpaid debts and non-execution of contracts worth over N1trn.

Those affected are Mr Timi Alaibe, a former governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Bayelsa State, Chief Nsima Ekere; the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State in the last general elections and the current Acting MD of the Commission, Dr (Mrs) Akwagaga Enyia.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon Ossai Nicholas Ossai handed down the order in Abuja at the resumed hearing of the ongoing investigation on the abandoned projects and debt profile of the Commission by the House directed the Acting MD to communicate the decision of the Committee to the former top officials of the Commission.

He directed that all those concerned must appear before the Committee unfailingly on Friday (tomorrow) to come and shed more light on the ongoing investigation of the Commission.

Hon Ossai who was visibly worried over the various revelations at the public hearing bothering on reckless wastage of public funds declared that a team would be dispatched to Imo State for road project inspection as parts of its fact-finding mission.

This came just as the committee queried the acting managing director and other officials of the agency for their involvement in a N61.4 billion contract awarded by the commission without completion.

The Chairman of the Committee stated that a report from the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation to the committee revealed that N70.4 billion was paid to 1723 contractors by the NDDC and they abandoned the projects.

He disclosed that the committee had petitions suggesting that the commission collected certain percentage of contract sum from contractors even before they mobilise to the site.

Hon Ossai further disclosed that available documents submitted to the committee had shown that some people still sign contracts after leaving office

Testifying before the Committee, the chairman of the Niger Delta Construction Consortium, Professor Jasper Jumbo threatened that he will burn down every single facility installed by the NDDC until a debt of N2.6 million owed him was paid.

The septuagenarian expressed disappointment at the injustices and mismanagement of resources on the part of NDDC management saying that they have been unfair to the region in term of infrastructure.

He told the committee that he had been a contractor of NDDC right from the days of OMPADEC and added that the agency had owed him N2. 6 million contract debt on a job that it had issued him a certificate of completion for over six years.

He also said that he had evidence to nail a former executive director of finance of the commission, who demands 10% of any contract sum from any contractor that bided for a job in the commission.

However, the acting managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. (Mrs) Dr. Enyia Akwagaga who appeared before the Committee for the first time after several failed summons attributed part of the problem creating many uncompleted projects by the commission to threats from erring contractors.

The Acting MD who appeared along the Executive Director of Finance and the Executive Director of project monitoring and inspection disclosed that there was always “subtle and open threats to NDDC top officials in recent past, whenever intention to terminate non-performing contractors” jobs was declared.

According to her, “subtle and open threats to NDDC top officials in recent past, whenever intention to bring erring contractors to book was declared.

She declared that a total of 9,820 contracts have been awarded from inception to date; out of which 4,288 were completed, 1,796 not yet started while 2, 645 were ongoing. She added that 342 projects have been stalled, 30 taken over, 449 cancelled and terminated even as 660 were newly awarded.

On the funding profile, she said that N2.832 trillion was budgeted from 2008 and 2018, N1.848 trillion, is actual receipts, N983bn outstanding funding variance, N1,374trillion outstanding gap based on amounts payable according to NDDC act, while N60.213billion was the unremitted funds due to NDDC through the Ecological Fund.

She lamented the underfunding of NDDC over the years and pleaded with the House to help them in the recovery of all payments due from the FG and oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta in accordance with the NDDC Act.

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