Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joy Yimebe Nunieh yesterday opened a can of worms on activities of the commission, insisting that some contractors were awarded contracts before their companies were registered.
She disclosed that there were a lot of misplaced projects in the board’s current budget, saying it was struggling to correct the anomalies in the budget.Speaking yesterday before the Senate Committee on NDDC, she said the Interim Management Committee was trying to ensure proper assessment for projects to be taken to various communities. She said in the case of water hyacinth, N800m was budgeted, but that a whopping N10.3b was spent, while N2b was earmarked for distilling in the budget, but a total of N37b was spent.
Nunieh explained that some of the companies were not registered, yet they have so many fake Interim Payment Certificates (IPCs), adding, “Almost everyone you see in Nigeria, has an IPC.’“Some contractors got awarded contracts before their companies were registered. Some of them are not registered at all. They have so many fake IPCs. Almost everyone in Nigeria has an IPC.
“Everyone has a photograph of a job that is well-finished. Sometimes, I get the same photos for different projects. In submitting the list to governors of the nine states, we have found out several duplications. “People have collected contracts for the same roads from the state government. They have collected from FERMA and then they come to NDDC and collect the same road projects.
“If I have a friend doing Road A at a place that I know, I come to NDDC and collect funds for the same road. We have also someone who has over 55 IPCs or blocs for the same contract I think is in Cross River or Akwa IBom State. That contract has been awarded 55 times.” She further explained that due to the pressure and the blackmail, she refused to pay money quickly, because some contractors wanted to be paid as quickly as possible when they have not done their work
“We are particular about the environmental impact assessment. We want to ensure that when NDDC gives a community a project, they should be able to provide proof that the plot of land has been donated to the commission. Some residents come to claim a plot of land after a structure has been built.” “Everyone has complained that the people in our region are hungry, but we belong to those communities and the communities must take ownership of the projects, she added.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday began processing NDDC’s budget thereby formally recognising the IMC, which it earlier swore not to acknowledge.This came as the Senate Committee on NDDC also supported the forensic audit being carried out on its account by the Federal Government, which stopped its 15-member board who had been screened and approved by the Senate in November last year.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan had told the committee not to recognise the IMC, but the confirmed board while dealing with the commission’s budget.At yesterday Budget defence, the committee seemed to have rescinded its initial position that it would only relate with the board members it earlier confirmed.
The Guardian recalled that Lawan had disclosed that with Senate’s confirmation of the board members, the IMC had become null and void.He had asked the newly confirmed board members to take over the affairs of the commission immediately, adding that the law setting up the NDDC did not recognise any interim arrangement once a board was in place.
President Buhari had sent the names of 16-member board to the Senate for confirmation, leading to the validation of the appointments of Dr. Pius Odubu and Bernard Okumagba as Chairman and Managing Director respectively of the (NDDC and 13 others on November 15, 2019.