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More facts have emerged on why the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has remained a conduit pipe for milking government funds with ease following the discovery by the Interim Management Committee set up to review contracts.
The Committee stumbled on awarded spurious contracts in the past three years to the tune of over N1tn as the contracts were not backed by any budget of the Commission within the period under review.
Addressing the press in Port Harcourt, the Acting Executive Director, Projects, and Chairman, Contracts Verification Committee, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, disclosed that such contracts were “wrongly tagged emergency contracts because they lacked bills of engineering measurement or drawings”.
Majority of the affected contracts were awarded between 2016 and last year, Ojougboh revealed.
According to him, NDDC would have become another abandoned project killed by open cheques for the contractors and their collaborators to fill in at the nearest banks.
Ojougboh noted that “Among other things, this verification is intended to establish the true position of the emergency regime between 2016 and 2019 in the commission.
“It is now common knowledge that some of the awards were not only spurious, but criminal as records available to us showed that most of the awards were not backed by budget, had no bills of engineering measurement or drawings and were just open cheques for contractors and their collaborators to fill in at the nearest banks.
“In 2017, for instance, the commission awarded a total of 201 emergency contacts valued at N100.4bn.
“In 2018, a total 1,057 emergency contracts valued at N162.69bn; and just seven months of 2019, a total of 1,921 emergency contracts valued at N1.07tn were awarded.
“So, we are talking of a total of over N1.3tn in less than three years.
“The yearly budget of the NDDC is hardly above N400bn and a situation where contracts that do not qualify for emergency were fraudulently awarded, valued at over N1tn in less than one year, amounts to ‘not only stealing from the pulpit, but stealing the entire pulpit.”
He argued that “If President Buhari did not order this forensic audit, the NDDC would have been grounded to a halt, killed and buried. He saved the NDDC from being shut down due to bloated contracts, overtrading and other sharp practices in the commission.
“The verification will expose those spurious contracts. Contractors with fake or spurious awards are advised in their best interest to stay away from the various centres.” Ojougboh averred.
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