PRESS RELEASE: CORRUPTION IN NDDC IS IRREDEEMABLE: WE THROW OUR WEIGHT BEHIND THE MINISTER OF NIGER DELTA AFFAIRS

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is enmeshed with corrupt practices which is practically irredeemable. We have taken a deem view of the Commission with a view to unraveling some of the shenanigans in its administration. We are not only disappointed but also taken aback over the unchecked illicit practices currently going on. What is going on in the Commission, in our description is a corruptocratic system where nothing goes for nothing. The purpose for which it has been established is defeated as the agency is now a money making machine to some political finagles to feed fat their pockets.

One of these corrupt offices in the Commission is the Office of the Executive Director of Projects (EDP). When we beamed our searchlight on that office, we discovered so many malpractices in the running of the affairs of Commission. For the sake of clarity and for purposes of probity, we shall name some of these corrupt practices one after the other:

1). Contract diversion: Projects that were initiated by the ordinary man and those influenced by some National Assembly members which ought to have been opened to the public to bid, if approved by the Commission were hijacked by powerful forces in or outside the Commission who used their positions to divert them to their relatives, friends or cronies who are closed to the EDP or other officers of the Board. No individual person is privileged to bid for contract except you are connected to senior officers of the Commission or politicians in the Country.  

2). Some contractors who bid for contracts are denied of the tender documents even when they have obtained bank drafts as published by the Commission. No contractor is given a tender documents except u are connected to the Board members or some highly placed persons in the Country. Those who came through the Board members were given at once all the three tender documents without delay. This practice has ushered in favouritism and who-know-man syndrome whereby every contractors have to run to them to get favour.

3). The Board, especially the EDP’s Office refuses to act on either internal memoirs or external correspondences sent to his office. This practice has not only slow down the running of the affairs of the Commission, it has also ruffled its image thereby turning it to an idle man’s paradise. What this present Board concerned itself with is how it can hijack contracts in the Commission’s budget and award them to their cronies and relations because they have kickbacks in those projects. 

4). NDDC under this present Board, files are not moved from one place to another except the concerned person has to pay for mobilisation. This ugly practice has engendered racketeering whereby no one rendered free service in the Commission to their clients except with cash or in kind. The racketeers used the EDP’s name to swindle money from contractors. Those contractors whose contracts have been approved have to service these finagle in the name of the EDP. These contract racketeers who have being mooching around the Commission as agents of the Board members usually called most of the contractors to strike a deal with them for the payment of either the contract sum or mobilisation fees. Contractors cannot be paid of the contract sum except they have agreed to part with some money to the Board members who demanded through their agents to give them some percentage. They coaxed these hapless contractors into signing undated cheques with the agreed amount written on it.      

5). The Board members are also using some fictitious means to enrich themselves. They unreasonably increased funds in the budget for consultants whom the Commission engaged to design a project plan which in most cases cost about 10 to 30 million. The 2016 project has many of those projects. This is clearly an avenue to enrich themselves as there is no basis to use such huge amount of money to engage consultants for the drawing of one single project plan. We ask for an independent investigation to see whether the money spent on engaging consultants for drawing of projects is commensurate with the work done.

6). The Board also refused to attend to projects evaluation reports sent to it from the various states offices. Contractors have to wait for months before they can be processed to raise the interim payment certificates. The reason for this undue delay in our findings is to compel the affected contractors to bribe them before they can do their work. Also, several departments will go back to site to repeat what their states offices have done. This is a duplication of function, a move designed to siphon money in the Commission. Why the Commission cannot correct these lapses?

7). Contract agreements will not be signed except the affected person has to settle the relevant authorities or use connections, if any, to prevail them to sign it. If however you do not have any of the above then your contract agreement will be signed at the pleasure of the authorities concerned.         
Also, to access the Commission’s office is by who know man. Even on visiting days, the Board members barely allow visitors to have access to the Commission. The Board members in their desperation to build a billionaire cult have shut out the vast majority of Niger Deltans from having access to the agency thereby turning it to an aristocratic conclave. Only people who are connected to the powers that be can have their way in. In every visiting day, the Commission’s gate is crowded with the intending visitors who have nobody to connect them.      

8). Some major projects that run into billions of naira were given to cronies of the Board members or politicians in high places whose companies have no technical know how to handle such projects. Majority of these projects are not made known to the public thereby giving the Board members the leeway to drain the Commission of its scarce resources through these surreptitious projects. To worsen the whole thing even the communities these projects are sited did not know the contractors; however some have been mobilised to site. Worst still, some of these contractors were given award letters without even coming to site and certificates issued to them for completion of a milestone of the projects without even executing it. We have it on good authority about some of these projects. We shall publish them in details in our subsequent publications.

Finally, NDDC failed and or refused to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA) in most of its major projects. These developments have caused grievous harm to the communities some of these projects are sited. Also money budgeted for EIA in 2016 budget have not been used. They run into private pockets, a development that has made the Commission to dodge some of its responsibilities in respect of EIA reports. NDDC should tell us how it used the money budgeted for EIA in the 2016 budget.

The above shenanigans are just some of the fraudulent activities our intelligent unit has uncovered in the NDDC Board, especially in the Office of the Executive Director of Projects. Since the present Government is on a mission to stamp out corruption from our body polity, we draw the government’s attention to the massive fraud going on unchecked in NDDC. We specifically call on the Acting President to overhaul the Board with specific reference to the office of the Executive Director of Projects. 

We throw our weight behind the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani over his threat to sack the Board. He should go ahead and investigate all the allegations against the Commission. The Minister must not back down on his resolve to reshuffle the Board as contract enrichment/diversion, administrative apathy, nepotism, favouritism and other fraudulent activities are the practices we have seen in the Commission through this present Board.

We also call on the anti-graft agencies to beam their searchlights on the NDDC Board. We on our own part, as an Anti-Corruption Organisation will continue to expose the quagmire in public institutions.

Signed:
ALAOWEI .E. CLERIC, ESQ,          
National President,
FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND ANTI-CORRUPTION CRUSADE (FHRACC).

26th July, 2017.

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