How a serving Senator is handling 300 NDDC projects

A SERVING Senator is single-handedly handling about 300 contracts for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), its interim management committee said on Sunday.

NDDC Acting Executive Director of Projects, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, said 120 of the contracts have been fully paid for.

He, however, did not say if the contracts were executed. He also did not name the Senator.

Ojougboh said the contracts were under investigation.

According to him, NDDC owes contractors about N3trillion.

The acting director said the ongoing forensic audit would help uncover how the debt was accrued.

He said those opposed to the audit have something to hide, as they must have played a role in NDDC’s mismanagement.

Ojougboh accused the unnamed Senator of sponsoring a smear campaign against the interim management, which he said would function for less than six months and hand over to the substantive board.

Ojougboh said he had no interest in NDDC, adding that he and other interim management team members would not be compromised.

Other members are Acting Managing Director Dr Gbene Nunieh and Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr Ibanga Utang.

Ojougboh said: “I have never entered the NDDC building before. I have no contract there. The MD has no interest whatsoever in the NDDC. The Executive Director, Finance, also does not have any interest.

“Therefore, when given the opportunity that we have just been given, our job is to make sure that we avail the auditors all the necessary documents and information, all the necessary help they need because we are not protecting any interest but to help the auditors do their job as it is required.”

Ojougboh said the senator ought to have recused himself from screening the NDDC board nominees.

“It is obvious that the reason he is behaving the way he is behaving is that he wants the system, the looting in the NDDC to continue, and this is what the Interim Management Committee will not support. It is as simple as that.

“I appeal to Nigerians to support the position of Mr President, to support the IMC, to support the people of the Niger Delta and the forensic audit.

“The NDDC Interim Payment Certificates that are pending are worth over N3 trillion. That is what the NDDC owes these phantom contractors. It is these phantom contractors that are preaching and making noise to stop the probe. All they want is for the stealing to continue.

“All they want is to bring puppets to manage the forensic audit because they know that the members of the IMC will not compromise. If you look at the records at the NDDC, you will cry.

“Some genuine people that have done jobs for the board have not been paid for over 15 years and their families are suffering. Many of those who were paid are these phantom contractors,” Ojougboh said.

On why the interim management team was set up, Ojougboh said it was to make the incoming management’s work easier.

His words: “It was thought that allowing the board to supervise the forensic audit will get them encumbered because they will also be interested in the matters that they are involved in.

“So, the system came up with the idea that an independent body must be put together to oversee the forensic audit for a period of three to six months. Thereafter, at the end of the forensic audit, the body that has just been screened will take over.

Meanwhile, the Oil and Gas Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSCON) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to return the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the Presidency.

It expressed fears that the Niger Delta ministry may not effectively supervise the NDDC, which the President said was mismanaged despite huge allocations.

HOSCON said: “We demand that the NDDC be urgently returned to the Presidency as its control by the Ministry of the Niger Delta will not only be counter-productive but will give some selfish political gladiators undue advantage and cause unnecessary tension.”

This is as former militants in the Niger Delta have pledged support for the interim management committee set up to run NDDC. TheNation

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