A tale of sleaze, corruption in NDDC
Bayelsa: Activists Blame Communities, Traditional Rulers For Abetting Corruption In Contracts
Lack of monitoring mechanism by the NDDC, non-prosecution of defaulting contractors, as well as officials’ culpability have been blamed for the agency’s poor performance in the Niger Delta since its inception.
Right now, no fewer than 5, 000 developmental projects worth billions of naira, initiated by the agency have been abandoned across the entire region, with the highest number being in Bayelsa State.
Speaking to The Guardian, an environmentalist and human rights activist, Morris Alagoa, said apart from official corruption, the communities, traditional rulers, ex-militants and youth leaders who abandon projects should also share in the blame.Making reference to the compromised contract award process, which is allegedly the order of the day in the commission, he said, “if you take your own percentage from behind after mobilising the contractor, you have emboldened the contractor not to perform. And because you have collected from the same contract fund, you will not have the moral standing to put pressure on the contractor to execute the project.
“That the Niger Delta is littered with abandoned projects is the fault of communities, who make unnecessary demands from contractors. Insecurity in our environment, kickbacks, those who deliberately refuse to execute contracts and run away with mobilisation fees and the perspective of the Nigerian factor.
“Niger Deltans, including traditional rulers and youth leaders, plus ex-militant leaders who secure contracts from the interventionist agency and fail to execute the contracts should share in the non-performance of the agency. And, this includes politicians all over the country, especially those from the Niger Delta. Even if there is corruption, the board and management of the commission are not enmeshed in it alone, some other stakeholders in the Niger Delta and other Nigerians are equally culpable,” Alagoa said
Like Alagoa, another activist, Wisdom Ikuli, attributes the commission’s poor performance to the endemic corruption that has been institutionalised in the polity due to the absence of patriotism, or patriotic zeal to move the country forward. He said: “The issue of corruption, which manifest in various forms, sometimes in the form of misapplication, misappropriation or outright embezzlement or diversion of public funds is not peculiar to the NDDC alone. Corruption is endemic and institutionalised in the Nigerian system due to the absence of patriotism or patriotic zeal to move the country forward.
Stakeholders Score Agency Low In Cross River
STAKEHOLDERS in Cross River State have scored the NDDC low, just as they claim it has blatantly failed to accelerate the pace of development of the Niger Delta region.They are also united in their submission that the state failed to reap any tangible benefit from the intervention agency regardless of the fact that both the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, and the immediate past Chairman of NDDC Board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba both hail from the state.
The Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Central Senatorial District, Mr. Cletus Obun who described the commission as a huge disappointment to the state, said it has been beneficial only to political appointees. “NDDC has more of plans than expectations, that is to say that their intentions have never been met with execution or implementation. There is a big gap between implementation of its plans and budget in Cross River State, in spite of the huge advantage we enjoyed in the last four years, where we had both the minster and the chairman. No state in the Niger Delta has had the privilege of both the Chairman of NDDC and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs coming from the same state.
“Even if any state had such privilege, it never had the kind of cooperation or opportunity we got, therefore if you match that, you will discover that we were hugely disappointed as only the said appointees benefitted as they were not in any position to help Cross Riverians and Cross River State. Therefore, it is safe to say that in the last four years, we did not obtain the full benefit that should accrue to us as a state as the NDDC did not give us the deserve change,” Obun said.
According to him, “was the NDDC set up to address developmental challenges? The answer is No. The structure, recruitment, appointment of those who have served in the commission clearly shows that it was set up to compensate people who lost elections. Indeed, it was not actually set up to address developmental challenges in the Niger Delta…The whole NDDC story is faulty; it is not transparent. If you take a look at projects that the NDDC is carrying out, they are projects that ultimately help NDDC officials to make money for themselves and not really for alleviating the problems of the people. Put differently, the NDDC is defrauding the people of the Niger Delta and has failed to fulfill those lofty ideas that were sold to us to support it.”
Author and international resource scholar, Sir Leonard Anyogo, on his part said the commission has failed to make any appreciable impact in in rural communities where its presence is most needed.Even though he maintained that there was still room for it to improve if loopholes that enabled some people to hijack the commission are blocked.
Anyogo, who said that rural roads in the northern part of the state were all dilapidated stressed, “I have not felt the impact of NDDC that much. For me, the NDDC would be more impacting if it can assist in constructing rural roads because the population is mostly in the rural areas, where most of them are into agriculture, but are not feeling the impact of the commission in terms of infrastructural development.”
The Archbishop of Anglican Communion, Calabar Diocese, Archbishop Tunde Adeleye, on his part blamed the Federal Government for not being effective in carrying out its responsibility to the Niger Delta region.The clergyman, who is also the Archbishop of the Niger Delta Province, said the present administration has failed in the provision of necessary amenities, improving infrastructure or fast-tracking physical developments in various parts of the country.
“It is known to all of us that the Niger Delta Development Agency (NDDC) is not fair to the people of the area, who expected to be involved in the infrastructure and physical development of their area. What they are experiencing now is a different ball game. I am not surprised because corruption is a natural phenomenon in this particular government. There is corruption; there is fraud from the head to the toe in this government, and the reason that the fight against corruption by this government is not working is because the government itself is corrupt,” the cleric said.
NDDC Has No Tangible Impact In Akwa Ibom State- Stakeholders
ACCORDING to Professor of Economics at the University of Uyo, and one-time Commissioner for Economic Development, Prof. Emmanuel Onwioduokit, “corruption in NDDC is nothing new because of the concentration of resources of that volume without proper supervision. Such will always lead to corruption. So, I think the Board of NDDC has a critical role to play in order to stem this. Since inception, the commission has been seen as a drainpipe, where over N600b have been poured into till date.
“I am yet to see any NDDC project in the Niger Delta that is of top quality. In fact, there is no NDDC project that is of world standard. When I did my personal studies, I tried to find out why there were sub-standard projects everywhere and I was made to understand that sometimes as much as 40 per cent of the job value is shared to NDDC officials as bribe. Consequently, the contractor will struggle with only 60 percent of the project cost and would still strive to make profit from that. This is the simple reason that all NDDC projects in the Niger Delta are sub-standard,” he said.
Onwioduokit who, however, commended the Obasanjo-led administration that established the commission, called for improved management saying, “If I were to be in government, I would ask the NDDC to come up with a 25-year development plan, and a roadmap on how to go about it. With that, it would be easy to match funds with what is in the development plans for each year.”He tasked the commission to start giving room for citizens to participate in the implementation of its projects in the states, adding that these citizens would form part of the monitoring team and evaluate the projects to see whether they were being implemented according to budgeted funds.
“For now, and for me, I would say that the NDDC does not have any tangible impact on Akwa Ibom State, as almost all its projects are short-lived because they were shoddily done, and they lack quality and value. What the agency is doing is like wasting scarce resources. NDDC is a laudable interventionist programme because of the history of its emergence, but its projects are not well implemented or managed.”
In the same vein, the Chairman of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in the state, Franklyn Isong said Akwa Ibom State has not actually fared better in terms of NDDC project execution. According to him, people who can claim to have been impacted by the commission were political cronies of the ruling elite in the respective states, so, “the commission has not taken steps to see how it could address issues of development in the state. I think the commission should be devoid of political activities,” he said.
“I don’t have the statistics or data to conclude that the commission is corrupt, and I will not want to make a blanket statement to that effect because I don’t have facts with me. But I am speaking based on the fact that the commission has a mandate and I am looking at how far the mandate has been implemented, and how the people of Akwa Ibom State have fared with the activities of the commission,” he said.
The Coordinator, Akwa Ibom State Human Rights Committee, Clifford Thomas, on his part regretted that the impact of the NDDC is not felt in the state. He called for greater transparency in its activities, improved level of implementation and strict monitoring and evaluation of projects in order to ensure that they meet agreed standards.
“So, for the NDDC to acquit itself creditably, it should furnish us with facts and figures about projects that it has implemented in the state (and in which areas). Let us also do an NDDC development map of the state from where we would thoroughly assess the agency’s impact in the state. Right now, everything is based on speculations because we don’t have facts at hand. If for instance, the budget of the NDDC for Akwa Ibom State for three years is N20b, we should be able to pin the budget to projects designated here and there. That is not what the situation on ground is. And this is simply as a result of alleged corrupt practices,” he said.
No comments yet