By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja and Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has disclosed that the Commission and its supervising Ministry, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, need over N70 billion to complete the East-west Road which straddles the six South-South States.
Speaking while receiving the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Uguru Usani Uguru, Ekere said: “The NDDC will partner with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and private sector investors on the construction of the East-West road. Over N70 billion is needed to complete the road. So, the strategy will be to harness private sector collaboration to complete the road. The portions that have totally collapsed will be addressed immediately.”
He lamented that the Eleme-Refinery junction section was in a very terrible state. “It is so bad that a 10-minute journey on that axis now takes three hours. That section of the road has failed and we will get contractors to the site immediately,” he said.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer further stated that the construction of the remaining sections of the East-West Road would be handled by many contractors.
“Our strategy involves multiple contractors. The road, which is a strategic link to the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, connects Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.”
According to Ekere, the Commission is embarking on a centralized e-project management scheme which would reduce waste and costs on project management. He added: “We are determined to improve on our project management capabilities. NDDC projects all over the Niger Delta will be managed from a central project management platform such that I can sit in my office at the headquarters and monitor projects all over the region. The essence of this is to ensure a robust project management portfolio and reduce waste and costs.
“We are determined to do things differently. We are determined to leave behind a new and improved NDDC. We are determined to reform our systems to help us reduce the incidents of abandoned projects,” Ekere said.
The minister, during the visit, ordered an investigation into the educational qualification of staff of the NDDC with the aim of exposing ghost workers and those working in the commission with forged certificates.
Uguru directed departmental heads in the commission to submit their nominal rolls to the Managing Director within one week.
Uguru said: “Directors of various departments in this Commission should submit the nominal roll of their respective departments to the Managing Director within one week. I don’t want to hear that we are on it because, I will ask for it immediately it is one week. If you are a departmental head and signs for a ghost worker, you will face it.
“We have observed that there are several people with forged certificates working in NDDC. Please, let us shun all the things that will give a bad image to the NDDC.”
While assuring the board and management of the NDDC that there won’t be political interference in the running of the commission, the Minister stated that the Buhari administration would carry out governance without partisanship.
He promised to stamp out any form of political interference in the running of the interventionist agency.
“We will stop political interference in the NDDC. Any political interference in the commission will be resisted. I assure you, political interference will no longer be an obstacle for the NDDC,” Usani said.
He commended the NDDC board and management for their efforts towards reforming the commission’s processes, and called on the staff to cooperate with the management during its audit exercise.
The minister said: “We must from this day, hasten our processes within the commission. There is no more room for partisanship.”
Usani noted that the audit that would be carried out in the NDDC was a presidential directive which must be complied with as soon as possible, warning that anyone who constituted an obstacle in the audit process would be shown the way out
“The ministry was buffeted with obstacles when it conducted its own audit. The staff of the Ministry tried to frustrate the process,” the minister said.