The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Usani Uguru Usani has declared readiness to probe perceived corruption in the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Akwa Ibom State.
To that effect, he has demanded a detailed report from the Management of the Akwa Ibom State Office of NDDC.
The report will enable him to carry out a check on the status of all ongoing and abandoned projects of the commission in the state for proper actions.
Mr. Usani gave this directive during an inspection of some NDDC projects in Akwa Ibom state, over the weekend.
“We came to look at the projects of NDDC in particular because the debt profile of the commission is in excess of one trillion naira and it is quite disturbing that with the huge investment of resources from oil companies, government and all intervention programmes, the Niger Delta as a whole is still very backward,” he said.
The Minister added that it was the major concern for the government that people were not seeing the dividends of the investments of government.
He said that he decided to have an on- the -spot assessment and objective view of whatever was being done by the Commission.
The inspection by the Minister was the first exercise he had carried out on the Niger Delta Development Commission projects since he inaugurated the board and management of the Commission.
The inauguration took place in November, 2016 when it was brought under the supervision of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
Some of the projects inspected by the Minister included the Prototype students’ hostel located at the University of Uyo and an abandoned road project site at Ikot Akpatek, in Onna Local Government Area.
On the Prototype hostel which took off in 2004, but has been abandoned since 2015, the Minister sought to know the mobilisation sum so far and a reassessment of work done compared to the total amount received since the take-off of the project.
He also wanted to know the cause of the abandoned road project at Ikot Akpatek.
Usani said that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was bent on curbing all excesses and duplication of projects that caused waste of resources leading to low level of implementation.
He added that if the state government has decided to award the road project in Ikot Akpatek, the Federal Government, will have to liaise with the state on the acceptable format of executing the project, knowing that two contractors will not be taking resources on the same project.
“This has happened in several locations and we are not comfortable with it, so where we have knowledge of it early enough we will take action that will cause the resources of one of them to be deployed elsewhere. ”
The Minister stressed that the platform that had been created in having a synergy with all agencies concerned with development projects in the Niger Delta region would ensure an objective opinion of all parties involved.
In the words of the Minister: “When it concerns issues of development, we make sure that we do not have divisions because it is not the people who are the managers of the system that intend to benefit, it is the members of the public.”
He added: “At present, we are expecting approval from the presidency to audit all projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission as was done in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
“Once that approval is given, we will set into action, and we will make sure that those who do not have capacity to do their projects will relinquish such projects on terms that are acceptable within rules of procurement.
“Those who have capacity, but failed to do, will be caused to complete such projects by whatever means.”
The Minister said the project audit was not intended to make anybody suffer, but the concern of Government was to ensure that what any man took commitment to do was accomplished.
“Our concern is to make the projects work.”
In the same vein, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, Ephraim Inyang, who was in the minister’s entourage to the project sites alleged that most of the NDDC abandoned projects in the state were published in the past by the Commission as completed.
Inyang assured the Minister that the report of what the state government has discovered on the NDDC projects would be submitted to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, with a view to compare with what the staff of the Commission will submit.
“We will make sure that every project has a report and a picture so that we come to the same level.”