The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Gbene Dr. Joi Nunieh, says that the Commission has empowered its Project Assessment Committee to begin visits to project sites in communities across the Niger Delta region.
Nunieh spoke during a courtesy visit at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt by some chiefs from Kula, in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, under the auspices of Concerned Citizens of Kula Kingdom.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that through its findings in the just concluded contract verification exercise, the Commission had been able to reduce its indebtedness to contractors and consultants considerably.
She declared: “We are ready to begin the projects’ assessment which will entail going to the sites and it would be a name and shame exercise.”
Nunieh emphasized that the Interim Management Committee, IMC, which she heads, would not succumb to the pressures from contractors, who want to be paid even before validation of their claims.
The NDDC boss urged the Kula chiefs to support the IMC and stand with the NDDC to ensure the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region, noting that the story of the region would not be complete without a mention of the contributions of Kula as an oil-producing community.
Nunieh said that the assessment committee had worked out a schedule for the visit of project sites in various communities, including Kula, to inspect on-going projects, emphasizing that no contractor would be paid without evidence of work done.
She said: “I want to assure you that we will visit your community for site inspection. We expect your people to receive us. We will look at the measurements and every detail of work done and if they are accurate, we will pay.
“I want to say that I am privileged to be at NDDC at this time. The money for the execution of projects is not mine. It belongs to the Federal Government and if a contractor does well, I don’t see why he will not be paid.”
Earlier in their presentation, the Concerned Citizens of Kula, led by Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, appealed for the investigation, reconsideration and completion of abandoned NDDC projects in Kula and other communities in the kingdom.
In a petition signed by the Chairman of the Concerned Citizens, Sara-Igbe and 18 other chiefs, they thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for ordering the conduct of forensic audit on the NDDC.
The chiefs said: “We are particularly grateful for the peaceful resolution of the OML25 dispute, and approval given to Belemaoil Producing Limited for the building of Export Terminal in Kula with its concomitant employment and development opportunities.”
“This is an eloquent testimony of the Buhari administration’s commitment to ensuring transparency and accountability which promotes the frontiers of progress, prosperity and unparalleled infrastructural development in the Niger Delta region.”
They said that sequel to the forensic audit, the community felt it was necessary to register their complaint over some uncompleted and abandoned projects in the Kula kingdom. They appealed to the NDDC to extend the investigation into projects in Kula communities.
The Concerned Citizens listed some of the projects, which included the N3.9 billion land reclamation and embankment with five jetties in Kula; construction of 11-kilometres internal roads awarded at the cost of N2.4 billion; administrative blocks of a community secondary school, among others.
In his own remarks, the NDDC Acting Executive Director Finance and Administration, Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang, commended the Kula chiefs for coming to share their concerns with the Commission.
He thanked President Buhari for giving the IMC the opportunity to serve the people of the Niger Delta region, especially for ordering the forensic audit.
He stressed: “We owe the Niger Delta region a duty to ensure that all contractors returned to sites to complete their projects.”