Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Akwa Ibom State have taken on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that is under the watch of Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio.
According to the civic groups, as it is presently constituted, NDDC is an illegal entity since t is being run by an interim management committee as against what is provided for in the Act that sets up the interventionist agency.
Since the massive fraud saga, NDDC has been coming under attacks by various groups in the region over the failure of the federal government to constitute the board of the commission as required by law despite repeated assurances by Akpabio that it will be done as soon as the forensic audit report was submitted.
CSOs’ Chairman, Harry Udoh, dropped the bombshell while addressing journalists to mark this year’s World Anti Corruption Day alleging that the commission without a properly constituted board would be a cesspool of corruption as it was being run by an interim administration.
Udoh, who said CSOs in the state had undertaken the tracking of projects executed by the commission as approved in the 2019 budget said it was found that many of the projects listed were never executed while some of the projects were not captured in the forensic audit report of the commission.
He expressed dismay over the inability of the Federal Government to publish the report of the forensic audit submitted to the minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami saying the CSOs in their letter to the minister were directed to obtain a copy of the audit report from the NDDC.
“We have equally written to the NDDC but we were told to pay N350,000 to get the copy of the forensic report, we are ready to pay the money to obtain the copy of the report,’’ he said.
Udoh who maintained that some of the projects including a two storey maternity block at the University of Uyo teaching hospital were not included in the audit report alleged that 65 percent of the contracts awarded by the commission were fake and non-existent.
He listed non-existent of such projects in Akwa Ibom to include fake water project in Okosi community , Okobo local government area , non-existent Perimeter Fencing at Model school in Ikot Oboroenyin village , Ikot Abasi council area and another road project in Urue Offong Oruko local government area of the state .
He said it was a shocking revelation at Okosi community where the NDDC claimed that it had completed a water project for the people but the people were found grappling with perennial water problems as they were found returning from the village stream.
“We are just coming from an independent tracking of 2019 approved budgeted projects and programs of the Commission in Akwa Ibom State. It may interest you to note that of the 31 projects captured in the 2019 approved budget and tracked by us, about 65% of them are non-existent.
“They could not be located. Community members were not aware of such projects in their communities, and were actually shocked to learn that there was an approved project by NDDC for their Communities.”
“Of the projects actually implemented, over 85% of them were shoddy jobs. We saw asphalt coating that was less than an inch and there were several failed portions already.”
“In instances, the project description as captured in the 2019 budget was different from what we saw on the ground. For instance, in Ikot Oborenyen in Ikot Abasi, the projection description in the budget read perimeter fencing of a model primary school but what we found was a drain constructed around an open space with no building whatsoever on it and with no sign that construction work is about to begin.’’
Udoh alleged that funds have been syphoned through uncompleted projects dotting the landscape of the state .
“Again, a huge amount of critical funds has been spent with not much to show for it. How long would we continue to allow the colossal wastage? Let’s stop the corruption in NDDC now. ”
The CSO chairman noted that corruption has been the bane of development in Nigeria and urged communities benefiting from the interventionist’s agency to rise to the occasion by monitoring projects in their domains .
“As I have stated before, corruption inhibits development. It undermines economic development, threatens state security and undermines democratic values. The United Nations acknowledges the threat corruption poses to development and that is why Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was crafted to call on states to substantially reduce corruption in all its forms. he said.
The CSOs Chairman in Akwa Ibom therefore urged the Federal Government to adopt the just concluded Forensic Audit Report on the NDDC and punish those indicted in the report to serve as a deterrent to others. .
“Publish the details of the contractors involved in the abandoned project cases
Publish the names of those who approved the said contracts.”
“Immediate investigation and prosecution of all involve in the mismanagement of the over N6 trillion mentioned in the report
“Arrest and prosecute all Management members of the commission involved in contracts racketeering,” he charged.