Cairo Ojougboh, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) acting executive director of projects, says a sitting Nigerian senator is handling 300 of the commission’s project.
Ojougboh, who did not name the senator, said 120 of the contracts have been fully paid for, saying that the contracts are being investigated.
Speaking during a press briefing in Abuja, he said the commission is owing N3 trillion in contract sum and that the ongoing forensic audit would help uncover how the debt was accrued.
The federal government had inaugurated a three-man committee to oversee the operations of the NDDC.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the commission from 2001 to 2019.
The president said the directive became imperative in view of the persistent criticisms of the operations of the commission.
Ojougboh accused the unnamed senator of sabotaging the efforts of the interim committee.
“Somebody who is particularly interested in a major contract of the NDDC, who is a member of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he alone has 300 jobs in the NDDC. Of the 300 contracts, 120 has been fully paid and he has not mobilised to site for these 120,” Ojougboh said.
“It is obvious that the reason he is behaving the way he is behaving is that he wants the system, the looting in the NDDC to continue, and this is what the Interim Management Committee will not support. It is as simple as that.
“The NDDC Interim Payment Certificates that are pending are worth over N3 trillion. That is what the NDDC owes these phantom contractors. It is these phantom contractors that are preaching and making noise to stop the probe. All they want is for the stealing to continue.
“Therefore, when given the opportunity that we have just been given, our job is to make sure that we avail the auditors all the necessary documents and information, all the necessary help they need because we are not protecting any interest but to help the auditors do their job as it is required.”
He said the commission is owing some of its workers 15 years salary arrears.
“All they want is to bring puppets to manage the forensic audit because they know that the members of the IMC will not compromise. If you look at the records at the NDDC, you will cry,” he said.
“Some genuine people that have done jobs for the board have not been paid for over 15 years and their families are suffering. Many of those who were paid are these phantom contractors.
“I appeal to Nigerians to support the position of Mr President, to support the IMC, to support the people of the Niger Delta and the forensic audit.”
Border Drill: Benin Republic unrepentant — FG
The Federal Government has accused the Republic of Benin of being recalcitrant in its importation of prohibited goods for ultimate dumping in to Nigeria’s market in spite the partial border closure order.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the accusation when he featured on a “TV Continental”, live Programme, monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
“Regrettably, the signs out there are not positive in the sense that in the last few weeks, the amount of seizures that have been made do not show that our neighbours are in a hurry to comply with Nigeria.
“As we speak today, there are three ships heading toward Benin Republic laden with about 105,000 metric tons of rice.
“This is a country of about 12 million people. That rice is meant for ultimate consumption of Nigerians.
“In addition, Benin Republic just negotiated with Japan to receive rice worth 30 million dollars.
“It is clear that the ultimate destination of the rice will be Nigeria and that is why we are appealing to our neighbours.
“First preservation is the first law of survival, we are doing this to preserve our economy and the security of our country,” he said.
The minister who disclosed that the border drill will be in place as long as necessary, noted that Nigeria could no longer continue to play the big brother at the expense of its economy and national security.
“The facts at our disposal reveal that 10,000 vehicles are imported every month into the Cotonou seaport.
“For a population of about 12 million people to be importing 120,000 vehicles in a year means that the vehicles are going to Nigeria with sufficient market.
“As I have said, there is no gain without pain, there will be discomfort at the beginning ultimately we believe it is going to be to the ultimate interest of Nigeria,” he said.
The minister reiterated that both Benin Republic and Niger Republic were hurting Nigeria’s economy and security because of their non compliance with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit Goods and State of Origin.
“We have been on this dialogue since 2015 and the truth of the matter is that there has never been any legitimate transit trade between us and the two countries
“This is hurting our economy, affecting our security and no country will fold its arms when the overall interest of its people is being jeopardise,” he said.
The minister said that government decided to prohibit sale of fuel in filling stations less than 20km away from the borders because of the high level of smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries.
He said no fewer than 160 filling stations were affected by the directive and they were in such a large number because they primarily engage in smuggling.
“These are stations that when you drive into them in the day time, they will not be dispensing fuel until late in the night when they will smuggle the product across the border,” he said.
Mohammed disclosed that a very sizable proportion of the subsidised imported petrol into the country was finding its way to Benin Republic, Niger Republic and some other West African countries.
“What we find out is that we are actually subsidising the product not just for Nigerians but for many West African countries.
“For instance, if the landing cost of pms is about N200 today, in order to cushion the effect on the people, government sells at N140 per liter.
“Meaning that for every liter of fuel bought, the government is paying N60. If you consume one million litres a day, the government is paying N60 million a day.
“You can imagine that from what the government pays, it is the neighboring countries that benefit about 50 per cent of it,” he said.
Mohammed said that it had been provenly established that 95 per cent of illicit drugs , arms and ammunition came into the country through the land borders with attendant effect on increase in terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes.
He said with the border drill directive, there had been drastic reduction smuggling of drugs and arms into the country, thereby reducing rate of crimes.
The minister said that government was aware of the effects of the border drill on the citizens, particularly the spike in the price of rice, but the people must bear the temporary pains to reap the benefits.
NAN reports that most of the viewers that called in to the programme supported the government on the partial border closure directive.
They contended that Nigeria had been reduced to a dumping ground for decades.
Some of them gave the examples of China that closed its borders for decades to achieve its vision of self reliance and becoming a nation to reckon with globally
SDN Trains CBOs, Journalists On How To Track NDDC Projects Using Technology
In continuation of its efforts at bridging the gap between service providers like the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC and communities, Stakeholder Democracy Network SDN in partnership with the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation engaged community based organizations and media practitioners in a one-day start-up workshop to equip them with the requisite skills need to support the NDDC in actualizing its core mandate of developing the Niger Delta.
An official of BudgIT, a nongovernmental organization with a focus on participatory governance through accessible budgets and public data, Mr Adewole Adejola led participants through the rudiments of budget and project tracking. Employing vivid experiences from Tracka, an arm of BudgIT established to address critical issues related to projects in Nigeria, Mr Adejola carefully the processes of project assessment and evaluation to the participants.
The event which took place on Tuesday at the Aldgate Hotels in Port Harcourt included breakout sessions where participants identified several issues related to project execution and proffered solutions to them.
Some participants who spoke with FR News at end of the event expressed gratitude to the organizers of the workshop, adding that the skills they have acquired from the training would be used to ensure that NDDC projects sited in their communities are not only completed but also executed according to design and specifications.
Recall that SDN in collaboration with other development partners has held two other events as a build-up to developing an application geared towards improving the level of engagements between NDDC and citizens in Rivers State. On the 14th of November, the SDN in partnership with the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation and the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation awarded prizes to winners of the hackathon organized to enable young computer programmers from the region design a user-friendly application that would be launched as a technology tool to help community members interact better with the NDDC.