Daniel Pondei, the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has listed some contracts the commission allegedly paid for under duress, before its 2019 annual budget was passed by the National Assembly Committee.
Pondei, who alleged that some lawmakers, especially members of the Ad-hoc committees have held the commission hostage over the years with the annual budget approval, disclosed that the NDDC was arm-twisted to pay for some contracts that “were never done or sometimes, never completed”.
In a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media, Edgar Ebigoni, among the contracts and benefitting firms are: Kith Global Ventures Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Roads Lot 3, which cost N493,684,169.00, 301 Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Nja Road to Akoku Uno Lot 1, at the cost of N350,027,919.80;
Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Ajaolubeti Road Environs Lot 2, which cost the NDDC N394,010,952.10, Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 7, at the cost of N431,053.035.20;
Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 3, which the NDDC said it paid N361,357,276.20 for; Grapik Ltd; Emergency at Umudee Internal Road, which cost N207,673,107.70.
Some of the others contracts listed by the commission are: Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru Chukwu Umuorlu Road, at the cost of N518,409,089.30, Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru, at the cost of N519,949,949.10.
The NDDC also said it awarded “Grandfox Global Services Ltd; Emergency at Ope Road Okigwe LGA, at the cost of N580,438,578.00, Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Town Road Lot 6, at the cost of N348,853,184.60, and Crism Constr. Building Ltd; Emergency at Eziama Osuama International Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, which it said cost N561,592,377.80.
“Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of Failed and unmotorable sections of Akuku Illah Road Oshimili North LGA, at the cost of N463,489,890.13, and Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of failed and Unmotorable sections of New Ogorode Road Lot2 Sapele LGA, at the cost of N 466,416,380.71 and paid on the 26/03/2020”.
In the statement, the NDDC claimed that the agency was forced to implement the budget for 2019 fiscal year in five weeks.
It alleged blackmail on the part of the NASS committees, saying that the 2020 budget of the commission has not been passed in August 2020.
Pondei claimed that the contracts listed above were among the evidences presented before the NDDC committee during the public hearing last month, but was ignored, a reason for which the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the commission staged a walk-out before the committee on the first day.
According to the NDDC, details of the contracts can be verified with the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN), through the Freedom of Information Bill (FoI).
It also cited that spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, recently admitted on a national television, that contractors often approach chairmen of the house committees and the members, to use their offices to compel Ministries, Departments and Agencies to pay them.
“This blackmail scheme explains why the 2019 Budget of the NDDC was passed by the NASS Committee in March, 2020”, adding that, “we are talking about a budget that was billed to expire in May, 2020. This implication is that the management of the NDDC had only five weeks, to implement the budget of one fiscal year, and present a performance report on the same budget,” it added.
“This scheme has continued to play out, because as at this Month of August 2020, the budget of the NDDC for the 2020 fiscal year has not been passed by the Joint National Assembly Committee on NDDC. Sadly, nobody seems to care to ask questions because people are falling for the well-scripted smokescreen playing out in the two Chambers of the National Assembly.
“This document, is among the many others tendered before the NASS Committee, which never saw the light of the day, and which the NDDC Committee were never allowed to speak on, when they eventually appeared before the Committee, during the public hearing. It was based on this evidential claim that the IMC of NDDC staged a walk-out, on the first day they were to testify before the Committee.
“The details of this list can be verified from the Central Bank of Nigeria, through a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request.
“Indeed, the same allegation informed the reason all well-meaning Nigerians urged the Committee Chairman, Hon. Tunji-Ojo to recuse himself from the Chairmanship of that hearing. This is in keeping with the Nemo judex in causa sua, which is a Latin phrase that upholds the principle of natural justice that no one can judge a case in which they have an interest”.
“It is very unfortunate that against all objective appeals and moral persuasions, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, alongside some other accused members of the House Committee on NDDC, proceeded to hold a public hearing, which was initially slated for two days, being the 15th and 16th of July 2020, but which effectively ran till 20th of the month, only for him to decide, at his own pace and time, to recuse himself from the hearing, on the last day, an action which cast a dark shade on the entire public.
“This is because, the same reason for which he recused himself on the last day was enough for him to steer clear from the matter, ab initio. The foregoing points to a clear fact that the Committee set out to do a bidding, that was never in the interest of the public. They obviously needed a public hearing to tell the public what they wanted the public to hear, rather than the facts of the matter.
“The Spokesperson the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, on a National Television Programme, recently, admitted publicly, that Contractors often approached Chairmen of the House Committees and the members, to use their office to compel MDAs to pay them. This definitely should be the new height of the abuse of the oath of office they swore, not to allow their personal interest interfere with the discharge of their official duties.
“Recall that since these allegations were first made by the Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh on National Television, Hon. Olubumni Tunji-Ojo has not deemed it fit to discountenance the allegations by way of a law suit.”