NDDC: We’ve recovered over #60 billion from non performing contractors- Ekere
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has recovered over #60 billion from contractors who abandoned various developmental projects in the region after being paid mobilization fees for the contracts.
The Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, stated this on Friday while speaking as a guest on “State of the Nation”, a Channels Television news and current affairs programme.
According to Ekere, the NDDC is presently collaborating with the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution to ensure that such erring contractors are brought to justice. He regretted that some contractors have failed to mobilize to site years after being awarded the contract, insisting that such delay automatically invalidates the contract terms because all NDDC contracts are time bound.
He said the current NDDC Governing Board is committed to reforming the Commission, part of which involves undertaking projects that can be completed and delivered on time rather than award numerous contracts for projects that will be abandoned.
Ekere said the issue of abandoned projects in the NDDC is a huge challenge which necessitated the ongoing reforms aimed at reforming the governance system to take away some of the discretion the executive have, restore the Commission to its core mandate, institutionalize due process in the way of doing things as well as rededication and reaffirmation of commitment of the management and staff of the NDDC to doing what is right.
On the NDDC Master Plan, he explained that the inability to achieve the goals as envisaged in the master plan was due to the inability of other stakeholders such as States, Local Governments, Development Partners, Oil Companies, and the communities to key into the master plan, insisting that the present board is poised to change the narrative.
He commended the new Niger Delta Initiative of the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, whom he noted has brought about sustainable peace and progress in the region through his renewed engagement with communities in the region, an action he said has led to improved security in the Niger Delta, the resumption of academic activities at the Maritime University in Delta State as well as a new partnership between the NDDC and the Delta State Government aimed at constructing the Warri-Escravo road leading to the Maritime University.
The NDDC Managing Director said, the Commission is currently embarking on massive skill acquisition training for youth in the region geared towards sustainable economic activities to lift up the economic wellbeing of the region and create jobs.
He submitted that funding remains a key challenge of the Commission as the NDDC currently has a balance sheet of over #1.3 trillion, regretting that the federal government is owing the NDDC an outstanding backlog of #1.7trn due to the Commission statutorily. He said the NDDC has received only about #500 billion since inception, a challenge he noted necessitated his letter to President Mahammadu Buhari over the non release of funds meant for the NDDC.
Mr Ekere commended the National Assembly for amending the NNLG Act to ensure that the NNLG pays its mandatory 3% of its annual budget to the NDDC as required by law, submitting that though the action of the NNLG was a question between national interest and corporate profit, the amendment will ensure that the legal requirement for oil and gas producing and processing companies operating in the Niger Delta region contributing to funding the Commission is achieved.
On allegation of corruption in the NDDC, Mr Ekere said, he is committed at ensuring that international best practices are adhered to in the way things are done, insisting he is poised to deploying technology, establishing partnerships and initiating reforms to stamp out corruption and enshrine transparency from project conceptualization, procurement, project execution and delivery. He noted with dismay that weak institutions breeds inefficiency and corruption but advocated strong institutions to address issues of mismanagement and corruption in the system.
He assured beneficiaries of NDDC foreign scholarship that the Commission is poised to resolving whatever hitches was encountered which might have impeded them from receiving their entitlements, promising that reforms are underway towards ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in the scholarship scheme.