The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has announced the termination of 1,301 contracts as part of its implementation of the report of the forensic audit of the commission.
President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the audit, which covered the operation of the NDDC from 2001 to 2019, in response to the allegations of widespread corruption in the agency.
The Olusegun Obasanjo administration established the NDDC in 2000 to fast-track the development of the troubled Niger Delta region, but corruption and maladministration have plagued the commission in the past years.
The NDDC said in a public notice posted on its website on 10 November that the termination of the contracts followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive, and that the affected contracts were those that the contractors “failed to mobilise to site from 2000 to December 31, 2019”.
The terminated contracts range from road construction, land reclamation, renovation of classroom blocks, installation of electric transformers, renovation of hospital buildings, and rehabilitation of water projects, among others.
They are across the states – Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers – that make up the Niger Delta region, according to the notice, which was signed by the NDDC Director of Corporate Affairs, Ibitoye Abosede
“All affected contractors are advised to note that all monies earlier received by way of mobilisation for any of the projects are to be promptly refunded to the Commission’s Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria,” the notice said.
The NDDC advised the affected contractors to contact the Directorate of Project Monitoring & Supervision or the state offices of the commission for further inquiries.
“This cancellation is subject to any future re-award in accordance with the Public Procurement Act and extant award processes for projects,” the commission added.
President Buhari said last year that every kobo stolen from the NDDC would be recovered and the culprits punished.
Mr. Buhari last month sacked the NDDC interim administrator, Effiong Akwa, and replaced him with an acting Managing Director, Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, who was serving as a director in the Delta State office of the commission.
“N300 billion contracts awarded without due process”
Meanwhile, Vanguard newspaper reported the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana, as saying that the sacked interim administrator, Mr Akwa, would have to account for N300 billion contracts he awarded without following due process.
“The perception is that NDDC has failed. There is also the perception about widespread, endemic corruption in the commission. True or false, I don’t think it is a good story that you go somewhere and you are introduced as a staff(er) of NDDC and the first thing the person must be thinking about you is that this must be one of the corrupt ones.
“Even for your children, it is not a good story. It is in your hands to change that perception. There is a total failure. It is that failure that makes it possible for one man to sit alone in this commission and issue awards letters without due process, of N200 billion, N300 billion, under the guise of emergency,” Mr. Umana said, while addressing the staff of the commission.
“This is clear cut impunity we cannot tolerate. Already we are talking of indebtedness of over N3 trillion and one man will still sit alone and issue letters of another N300 billion without following due processes? And this was during the pendency of the forensic audit.
“The Acting MD is directed to give me a full report, which should go to the President. This was without my knowledge, so I want a report; I want all of those contracts terminated immediately. No budget at the time those contracts were awarded,” he added.