Bisi OLANIYI, Port Harcourt

THE Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) , Dr. Joi Nunieh, on Friday gave an insight into how greedy contractors almost bled the agency to death.

Reviewing the  just-concluded contracts’ verification exercise of the NDDC ahead of  the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nunieh alleged a large scale award of contracts to  unregistered companies.

“The just-concluded verification exercise has been an eye opener for us. We owe Nigerians, especially Mr. President, a duty to give full details of what came out of the contracts’ verification. The report will show Nigerians that we are truly determined to refocus NDDC to properly develop the Niger Delta region,” she said  in Port Harcourt.

“A lot has been revealed as a result of the verification exercise. Some contract award letters were found to be fake and some of the companies were not registered. Some were registered after they had been given the contracts.

“Some of the companies do not have the requirements prescribed in the Public Procurement Act to handle such projects. We also found that some individuals have 50 to 100 different award letters under different names.

“Only a few executives of the companies showed up for the verification exercise. Contractors and consultants that failed to show up for the verification exercise should not expect the commission (NDDC) to visit their sites for project assessment.”

Nunieh inaugurated two new committees for contract documentation and project assessment yesterday as a follow up to the work of the contracts’ verification committee.

The acting managing director stated that the committees would start work next week, even as the commission prepares to defend its budget before the Senate on Wednesday.

She said  that the contract documentation committee  headed by NDDC’s Director, Planning Research and Statistics/Management Information Systems, Dr. Linus Ogbalubi, would authenticate all the documents submitted by contractors and consultants, while the project assessment committee, headed by the commission’s Director, Project Monitoring and Supervision, Dr. .Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, would visit the various sites to verify contractors’ claims.

Nunieh said: “From next week, the project assessment committee will begin to visit project sites to check the veracity of the claims of the contractors and consultants.

“Those that executed their contracts well have nothing to fear, as they deserve to be paid. I want to reiterate that not all contractors are fraudulent. There are contractors who did well, but it is a pity everyone is getting agitated. I have not given anyone a contract, I have not collected one naira from any contractor with the promise of payment.

“We will do the right thing in the interest of all the communities. While visiting the project sites, we will work with the Community Development Committees (CDCs) of the various communities and the villagers will be there to testify that the roads and other projects are well done.

“Please, do not bother to pay any money to members of the committee. Do not induce them in anyway during the course of this exercise and any member of the committee that asks for money should be reported to the police.

“The entire process of assessment is free. No one is allowed to take money from any contractor to facilitate their coming to carry out the assessment. If you try to induce members, they may not visit your site.”

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