Minister threatens shakeup in NDDC over extortions, contract discrepancies
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, yesterday threatened to effect a shakeup in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over alleged discrepancies and contractual extortion at the commission.
He said this at a press briefing in Abuja, adding that the ministry would look into the various allegations against the commission to verify how its debt profile rose to N1trillion.
He noted that although the ministry’s focus was not to probe, Uguru said the NDDC’s debt liability would be verified to determine how resources allocated over the years were used and why the region still remains largely undeveloped.
The minister added that any employee of the commission who do not do things the government’s way was free to resign.His words: “I’ve written to the managing director to investigate the allegations. I’m also investigating them and anyone found liable will know the outcome. If that has been the tradition, we’ll not condone it in this era. We are determined to clean up the place.”
Uguru also stated that students under NDDC overseas scholarship, whose tuition and allowances have not been paid, will also be investigated, adding: “We have to know the number of students and what the liabilities are.”
He pointed out that lack of funds had delaying the completion of the East West Road project, which has been on for nearly a decade, adding however, that the ministry was working on alternative funding from some international agencies.
According to him, section one of the road has been completed but the ministry would not commission the road in sections until the entire project was completed.He lamented that even if the annual allocation to the ministry was applied to the road, it would still not be enough to complete it because the project was overvalued.
“If the Federal Government had spent N300 billion on a road that is less than 400 kilometer long and it’s not yet completed, it means that each kilometer cost more than N2 billion. “It’s sad that government representatives will negotiate contracts in a way that it will not be completed,” he said.
Uguru, however, added that probing the process would be confrontational to some interests and that due to the huge sums of the contracts, the ministry decided not to award new projects except interventionist projects, which would cost less.
He hinted that the ministry was making efforts to revive moribund industries and the agricultural sector in the region, saying the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and NEXIM Bank have agreed to fund the projects.
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