The Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has thrown its weight behind a call from the Edo State Government for a forensic probe of the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, owing to shoddy, incomplete, abandoned and substandard projects executed by the NDDC in the past six months.
ANEEJ Executive Director, the Rev David Ugolor, in a statement to the media said that the reports concerning the ineffectual activities of the NDDC were disheartening especially as the huge sums of monies being appropriated to the NDDC and other Niger Delta Institutions, NDIs have not been put to good use to meet the collective hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the Niger Delta.
‘We align ourselves with the position of the Edo State government for the singular reason that it reiterates an early position we enunciated in our novel report, Citizen Report Card on Niger Delta Institutions, which ANEEJ published in 2015 with LITE-Africa. That report found out that across board, most projects being executed by the NDDC and NDIs were either being abandoned, executed in one sub-standard way or the other or were incomplete. Subsequently, President Buhari in 2018 made an extra 18% budgetary allocation to the NDDC. That expression of political will however, has not matched the projects on ground. What is the region really doing with the 13% derivation fund?’, the Rev Ugolor said.
The Edo State government which made the call for a probe of the activities of the NDDC in the past six months said that it has instructed its solicitors to take legal action against contractors executing substandard projects in Edo State. According to the state governor Godwin Obaseki, ‘people must go to jail for their corrupt acts’.
‘In addition to the Edo State government’s call for a probe of the NDDC, we call on the federal government to vigorously pursue the blacklisting of all contractors, and the banks as well, which have in one way or the other worked with these contractors to execute substandard projects. We will refer Mr. President Buhari, and indeed Mr. Obaseki to recommendations made by communities our report covered to wit, that: (i) the NDDC be open and transparent and to do proper consultation with communities before they embark on projects, and (ii) independent monitoring teams should participate in project supervision during project implementations to ensure compliance and quality assurance to avoid substandard or incomplete and abandoned projects’, the Rev Ugolor stressed.
“As we mark Nigeria’s 59th independence anniversary, many Nigerians, particularly Niger Deltans are sad that in spite of the natural endowments of the region, corruption has continued to impoverish the people, exacerbated unemployment, destroyed livelihoods, and disempowered the people. We therefore support a forensic probe of NDDC’s expenditure of a whopping N20bn on inexplicable and substandard projects in the past six months.” Ugolor further averred.