Full Text of Press Conference by the NDDC Acting Executive Director Projects and Chairman Contract Verification Committee, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh
WITHOUT PRESIDENT MOHAMMED BUHARI, NDDC WOULD HAVE BEEN KILLED AND BURIED. IN SEVEN (7) MONTHS IN 2019, A TOTAL OF 1,921 EMERGENCY CONTRACTS VALUED AT (N1, 070,349,631,757.70) WAS AWARDED WHILE THE UNPROCESSED BUDGET OF THE NDDC WAS N350, 000,000,000.00.
1. You will recall that the Ag. MD/CEO, Dr. Joi Nunieh had on Friday 10th January, 2020 in line with the directive of Mr. President inaugurated a Contract Verification Committee as a prelude to the ordered forensic audit, with my humble self as Chairman. It has thus become expedient of me as Chairman to address this press conference, and make the following clarification.
2. The NDDC came into existence vide the NDDC Act 2000 (19 years ago), not only to offer a lasting solution to the social economic and environmental problems of the Niger Delta region by conceiving and implementing plans aimed at developing the infrastructure, human capacity building, but also to complement the efforts of the various state governments and other developmental agencies in the region. Whilst successive leadership of the NDDC may have done their best, today, the general conclusion of most stakeholders in the region is that the NDDC has not delivered on its mandate, at best a lack-luster 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, etc, at the NDDC, have adorned our media space over the years.
3. In an effort to stem this unfortunate tide, governors of the nine (9) states of the region, a couple of months ago, visited His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari to not only lay bare their perception of the Commission since it’s inception, but to also as members of the Advisory Council of the NDDC, offer useful advice on the way forward to the President. The result of this historic visit is the ordering of a forensic audit of the activities of the NDDC from inception to date by the President.
4. The President being a man of honor on 29th October, 2019 went on to appoint the Interim Management Committee (IMC) comprising of Gbene Dr. Joi Nunieh (Ag. MD/CEO), Chief Bassey Eteng (Ag. EDFA), and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, my humble self as Ag.EDP to oversee the forensic audit.
5. The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in conjunction with the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in preparation for the commencement of the forensic audit have already secured the Certificate-of-No-Objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for the lead consultant for the forensic audit, while that of the sub-consultants is underway.
6. The contract verification committee is therefore to lay a foundation for the forensic audit of the activities of the Commission from inception to date. To this end, all contractors, consultants (design and supervision), vendors, suppliers and NGOs or their certified representatives who have business transactions with the Commission, are thus requested to report with three photocopies each of their letters of award, Contract Agreement, and Interim Payment Certificate (where applicable), and 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 or summary of their claims / requests on their headed papers with verifiable addresses and certified true copies of their company registration documents.
7.Among other things this verification exercise is intended to establish the true position of the emergency regime between 2016 and 2019 in the Commission. It is now common knowledge that some of the awards were not only spurious, but criminal as records available to us show that most of the awards were not backed by budget, has no bills of engineering measurement nor drawings and where just open cheque for contractors and their collaborators to fill in at the nearest banks. For instance in 2017, the Commission awarded a total of 201 emergency contacts valued at N100,396,879,001.06; in 2018, a total 1,057 emergency contracts valued at N162,688,289,333.05; and just seven (7) months of 2019, a total 1,921 emergency contracts valued at N1,070,249,631,757.70. So we are talking of a total of over N1.3trillion in less than three years. The yearly budget of the NDDC is hardly above 400billion and a situation where contracts that do not qualify for emergencies were fraudulently awarded to over one trillion naira valued in less than one (1) year amounts to “not only stealing from the pulpit and stealing the entire pulpit.” If President Buhari did not order this forensic audit, the NDDC would have been grounded to a stop, killed and buried.
8.Mind boggling you might say, the verification exercise will expose those spurious contracts. Contractors with fake or spurious awards are advised in their best interest to stay away from the various centers.
9. I therefore thank Mr. President on behalf of the Hon. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio and the entire Niger Delta Citizenry. Finally, as you go out for this exercise, note that the entire people of the Niger Delta and the Commission have placed heavy responsibilities on your shoulders.
To this end, you are to discharge your duties diligently, honestly and professional.
Thank you and God bless you all!