…Says exercise already achieving results
By Chris Ochayi
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has revealed that many contractors have returned to their various sites to finish the abandoned projects with their own money as a result of the ongoing forensic audit of the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC,
Senator Akpabio, who disclosed while addressing the newsmen in Abuja on the activities of the ministry in 2020 and work plans for 2021, said the ongoing forensic audit exercise at the NDDC has already achieved a lot even before the results are out.
The minister noted that, even those contracts that were awarded since 2004 and abandoned, as I speak, some of those contractors have returned back to the sites to execute them.
According to him, “It is very clear that the forensic audit has already achieved a lot even before the results are out, I will give you just one example. In the estate where my brother the Honorable Minister of State stays, about four roads projects are being constructed and they are almost been completed.
“You will be surprised that we have not given out one single road project since we came as minister because of the fact that we have issues of budget and budget perception which was just last year December resolved by the national assembly.
“And also street lighting projects suddenly emerged; almost everywhere and we have over 75 projects right now that have been completed without even giving out one.
“We don’t give contracts, we gave time frame within which you will get back to site, so that when the forensic auditors come to access your project, if they see you that you are doing substantial work, based on what you collected then automatically it will show that the job is ongoing, otherwise it will show that the job is abandoned.
“And so far the stories are having it that we have 12,000 abandoned projects in the region, but it is not just abandoned projects, some were completed and also abandoned, because they were not handed over to the stakeholders.
“So they started deteriorating and some became dens for kidnappers and sanctuaries for lizards, and some covered with bushes.
“And in some instances even water business that we just did a little bit of joining wires, where abandoned because there was no ownership but so many of them were not handed over.
“But when I say we have reduced corruption to the barest minimum, it means that we are determined to ensure due process, the moment you follow due process, then you would have minimized corruption.
“There was no due process in most of the things they were doing, that is the simple truth. I will say that they didn’t follow due process in areas of awarding contracts and even in terms of monitoring.
“So now we have a robust monitoring system where even before payments are made we try to see what you have done. So if we are able to put those intact it means that we have reduced wastage and we are forced to minimize corruption.
“But I think on a whole that even the idea of the forensic audit the climax of the forensic audit, the fact that contractors have returned to site with their own money not the money of the commission.
“Those who have collected money, some going back to 2004 are working now as we speak. I gave an example of the Honorable Minster of State. So a lot will change.
“We are not going to bring down anybody; we just want to make sure that we bring out a workable organogram for the NDDC. That the forensic auditors will call fit for purpose organogram. So there is accountability and once due process is proven we could minimize corruption.”
On how the ministry is handing the issues of agitations from different interest of the region, Senator Akpabio noted; “I will answer you by telling you that it is the tree that has the sweetest fruits that also gets the highest amounts of stones.
“So the agitations that you are talking about, is part of the work of the ministry, it means that things are happening, it means that things are changing. if things where the way they were there would be no agitation, everybody would be smiling.
I give you an example, 14 years now; we have not been able to complete the East West roads. And you look at it and see the trillions of naira that are being spent by the NDDC.
Why can’t NDDC also contribute towards the construction of East West roads, that project is a Federal Road and it belongs to Niger Delta. We are now making Niger Delta the business of the elites.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, condemned the previous administrations at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDCC, for not having regards for anybody or institutions of the government.
He noted that the Commission has in the past violated several rules including accountability and due process in conduct of its businesses because they felt that they are not answerable to anybody.
According to him, “Adding to what the honorable minster has said, I want to say that the due process is critical, it’s even deeper than that, there was established, the management of NDDC did not believe they had to be accountable to anybody.
They were not accountable to either to Mr. President or to the ministry under which they are in, the office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, that they once belonged or to the people, no accountability at all.
“With all these we can see pectoral of the corruption that is been displayed. And one the things that the forensic audit will address is the due process that will be in line with government operations all over. There is no organization outside the main government procedures and laws.”