NDDC has failed – says Akpabio, withholds contract money

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By Esther Poweide

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio has withheld payments for contracts executed by the last management of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

He lamented that NDDC had failed to live up to its responsibilities in the last 20 years.

Akpabio said it was disheartening that NDDC was paying over N200m as rent yearly and incurred a debt of over N2 trillion.

He noted that payments made for jobs executed in the last one month would be subjected to forensic analysis and audit to determine if they were genuine, and records of the commission looked into to checkmate asset stripping.

The minister said reports showed that NDDC failed the people, as there were no legacy projects executed.

He spoke when he addressed the Interim Management Team of the commission, led by Mrs. Ekwagaga Enyia, at his conference room in Abuja.

Minister of State Festus Keyamo, who gave a preamble for the meeting, said the NDDC had failed in terms of commensurability of projects and funds accrual to the commission over the years.

He said, “Let us be clear on this, it will not be business as usual; it will be business unusual as the present leadership would not tolerate persistent underdevelopment of the region. We have become a laughing stock as people now say we (Niger Deltans) are the ones responsible for the underdevelopment of the region.

“The NDDC is seen as a conduit for empowering the pockets of politicians and hangers on. We will not do things the way we used to do it. The minister will exercise the powers of the President, not just to supervise the NDDC, but to control its affairs.”

Akpabio lamented that with over N2 trillion debt profile, NDDC could have been declared bankrupt if it were a private business organisation.

“We will change the modus operandi of the NDDC because it has become a thing of shame that for over 20 years, NDDC could not complete its headquarters. It is disheartening NDDC has been paying over N200 million every year as rent.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is keen on leaving legacy projects on ground for the Niger Delta people. His focus is clear on that and we will not allow anybody to stand on our way. If you are not prepared for transformation, it is better you quit. It is shameful that in the nine states of the Niger Delta,

NDDC failed to have one legacy project, such as a specialist hospital.”