More revelations have emerged from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as the Interim Management Committee (IMC) set up to audit NDDC finances, yesterday, released its latest findings.
The IMC said its findings showed that immediate-past NDDC management awarded 1,921 ‘emergency contracts’ at N1.070trillion in just seven months, against an annual budget of about N400billion.
The NDDC’s Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, disclosed this at a meeting in Port Harcourt, a statement signed by the commission’s Deputy Director, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi stated.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2019 ordered a forensic audit of NDDC, and appointed an IMC, which Ojougboh is a member.
According to Ojougboh, in just seven months of 2019, the commission awarded a total of 1,921 emergency contracts valued at N1.070trillion.
“In 2017, NDDC awarded a total of 201 emergency contracts valued at N100.4billion while in 2018, a total of 1,057 emergency contracts valued at N162.69billion were awarded.
“We are talking about a total of over N1.3trillion in less than three years. The yearly budget of NDDC is hardly above N400billion.
“A situation where contracts that do not qualify for emergencies were fraudulently awarded to over N1trillion in less than one year, this amounts to not only stealing from the pulpit but stealing the entire pulpit,” he said.
Ojougboh, who is the IMC’s chairman, Contract Verification Committee, said the findings have confirmed allegations of high-level corruption in NDDC.
The executive director said that President Buhari was fully committed to saving NDDC from being shut down by activities of corrupt contractors and officials at the commission.
According to him, the commission is sinking and would have been killed and buried due to over trading, bloated contracts and other sharp practices but for Buhari’s intervention.
“At best, NDDC has been a lack-lustre performance, with very little to show for the humongous resources that have accrued to it over the past 19 years.
“Stories of pervasive corruption, flagrant abuse of due process, abandoned projects, poor quality project delivery, among others, at NDDC, have adorned our media space over the years.
“To this end, the contract verification committee will lay a foundation for the forensic audit of the activities of the commission from inception to date,” he assured.
Ojougboh directed all NDDC contractors, consultants, vendors, suppliers and non-governmental organisations or their representatives who have business with the commission to report to the verification committee.
He said that the groups “are expected to come with three photocopies each of their letters of award, contract agreement, and interim payment certificates, where applicable”.
According to him, they are also to present originals for assessment, evaluation and verification to the NDDC office where such business is located.
“They are also to present letters detailing a brief statement of their claims/request on their headed papers with verifiable addresses and certified true copies of their company registration documents.
“The contract verification exercise would among other things establish the true position of the emergency contract regime between 2016 and 2019 in NDDC.
“Some of the contract awards were not only spurious but criminal, as available records showed that most of the awards were not backed by budget, bills of engineering measurement and drawings.
“They were just open cheques for contractors and their collaborators to fill in at the nearest banks,” he alleged.
Trans-Kalabari Road: Banigo, Stakeholders Condemn Abduction Of Expatriate
Kalabari traditional rulers and stakeholders have condemned the recent abduction of an expatriate staff of Lubric Construction Company working on the Trans-Kalabari Road.
Speaking at a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, last Friday, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said she was deeply pained by the unfortunate incident carried out by unknown miscreants.
According to the deputy governor, who said that the State Chief Executive Officer, Nyesom Wike, was desirous to bring more development projects to Kalabari Kingdom, regretted that this act was capable of discouraging him.
“I want to reiterate that our governor is very desirous to do more developmental projects in our communities, there are many more things he has in the card to do for us, and if we allow this ugly thing to surface, that attitude will discourage him”, the deputy governor noted.
Banigo, who said that perpetrators of the heinous crime did not drop from the sky, insisted that they were community people, and must be fished out and dealt with decisively, while calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abductee.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, expressed regrets that a project as important as the Trans-Kalabari Road would be tampered with by persons who do not mean well for the Kalabari people.
“If their intention is to run down the good works of our dear governor, over a project which the Kalabari people have been yearning for over the years, then, I am sure God Almighty will not allow them to get away with this dastardly act of kidnapping one expatriate”, Alabraba stressed.
Alabraba further said, “It is important that we talk to ourselves and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure immediate release of the victim, and ensure that measures are put in place to forestall this type of thing in the future”.
Presenting a seven-point communique, Amanyanabo of Minama, King Iboroma Talbot Pokubo, who represented the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Bobmanuel, demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate, and reassured Governor Wike of their unwavering support for the governor.
Buhari Approves Incorporation Of NNPC, Appoints Board Members
President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.
He also approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, was appointed chief executive officer.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, saying that the president acted in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.
“The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has, therefore, been directed to take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.
“Also, by the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, President Buhari has approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
“Chairman of the board is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while Mele Kolo Kyari and Umar I. Ajiya are chief executive officer, and chief financial officer, respectively.
“Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East); Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central); Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South-South); and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-West).”
Reject Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request, SERAP Tells NASS
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; to reject the fresh request by President Muhammadu Buhari, to borrow $4billion and €710million.
SERAP said if such request must be granted, the Federal Government should publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015.
The group also expressed fear that if the fresh request is granted, it may take Nigeria’s to over N35trillion.
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 and €710million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”
The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.
In an open letter dated September 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed “concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans that have been obtained, and the perceived unwillingness or inability of the National Assembly to vigorously exercise its constitutional duties to check the apparently indiscriminate borrowing by the government.”
SERAP said, “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, and use the country’s scarce resources for staggering and crippling debt service payments rather than for improved access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.
“The country’s public debt has mushroomed with no end in sight. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. There has been no serious attempt by the government to cut the cost of governance. The leadership of the National Assembly ought to stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to ensure limits on national debt and deficits.
“Should the National Assembly and its leadership fail to rein in government borrowing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of public loans, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly to discharge its constitutional duties.
“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed N35trillion. The government is also reportedly pushing the maturity of currently-secured loans to between 10 and 30 years. N11.679trillion is reportedly committed into debt servicing, while only N8.31trillion was expended on capital/development expenditure between 2015 and 2020.
“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of loans by the government and cutting the cost of governance would address the onerous debt servicing, and improve the ability of the government to meet the country’s international obligations to use maximum available resources to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality healthcare and education”, SERAP added.
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