Spurious overpriced contracts without recourse to due process have been blamed for the over N1 trillion debt profile of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Nothing else typifies this more than the N60 billion emergency contracts awarded within five months by the immediate past board of the commission.
A source in the newly reconstituted board who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian that the Presidency was concerned over the mounting debt profile of the NDDC, particularly as this was traceable to contracts awarded but not paid for.
“The N2 trillion debt is the commitment of the commission to contractors for projects awarded that they have not paid. If you go through the list of these projects, some were awarded in 2010, 2009 and 2008. They have paid part of it and some of them are still hanging.
“Normally, there ought to be milestones. The people will do the project to a point expecting that they will be paid, and for some reason, there will be a delay and before you know it the use of that project becomes questionable. In totality, it is the commitment of the Commission to contractors and services for which they have not paid,” he said.
He pointed out that, for instance, the immediate past board awarded several jobs within its short span without taking into cognisance the available revenue accruable to the commission.
According to him, most worrisome is the award of emergency road projects contracts valued at N60 billion.
“Only under the immediate past board, they awarded a contract for the emergency project in totality up to about N60billion. The question is where will this money come from? If you have done the only emergency for N60 billion within five months, why won’t you take into consideration other sectors of the region and these jobs are they even being done?”
You cannot award contracts without looking at the revenue that you are receiving. Your contract award should be commensurate with the money you receive, but they commit themselves by over-spending beyond what the commission was receiving.”
He continued: “You cannot award a one-kilometer road for N500million. Where is the role of due process and price intelligence? Some roads are not even existing. Not entirely a new road and then you are awarding such a project for N500m, N600million, and N700milliion for a short road. What is the role of price intelligence? Are they even aware that roads are being constructed by other agencies in this country?”
The Guardian gathered that the new board has been mandated by the presidency to fish out all heads of departments and administrative staffers of the NDDC who may have connived with past management to rip-off the commission.
“Management does not act alone, they probably act with insiders within the commission and it will be important to know these characters and identify those who have been part of the rip-off, board in board out and sanction them appropriately,” he added.
It will be recalled that in 2016, the NDDC had signed a partnership agreement with the Council of Registered Engineers (COREN). It was the position of COREN that any project done by the commission, supervised by an engineer, ought to be certified before payment. The supervising engineer was required to attach his certificate of practice to jobs done and, if at the end of the day that job fails, the engineer loses his license to practice. Ironically, in the past two years, that has not been the norm.
“The presidency is aware that projects in NDDC are over-priced and need to be reevaluated especially in the past two boards. The commission has not, in the past couple of years, been able to deliver on its mandate in terms of service to the people as huge money comes to the region without being reflected in the development of the Niger Delta,” he added.