- Â To probe projects, resource utilisation since inception
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
On the heels of recent allegations that some personnel of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) were demanding kickbacks from contractors before making contract payments, the federal government thursday expressed its resolve to sanitise the interventionist agency.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, who disclosed this in Abuja at a media briefing said part of the sanitisation measures would include the verification of all projects and resources channeled into the commission since its creation in year 2000.
The minister disclosed that allegations and petitions of personnel of NDDC demanding for percentages before paying contractors were rife and warned that those found culpable would face the wrath of the law.
With over N1trillion said to be owed contractors, he noted that the government was poised to unravel what happened to the funds deployed to the commission in the last 17 years of its existence.
The goal of the verification exercise, he explained, was not intended to witch hunt any official or past governments, adding that it was germane for the commission to be repositioned to carry out its set mandate.
He lamented that in spite of the huge resources allocated to the Niger Delta region in the past years, the situation in the oil-rich zone remains largely deplorable.
He said: â€œThe place is deplorable and the question is that for all these years that resources have been applied there what has been happening and this curiosity leads you to the research of what is responsible for the situation.
â€œThis is why this knowledge of so much debts without anything, we are compelled by circumstances, not by our desire, to know why so much waste has taken place,â€ he said.
As a first step, Uguru stated that the federal government had decided to â€œmake sure that there is critical personnel reshufflement.
â€œI have directed the managing director to get us the nominal roll of staff. I have also requested that we carry out the same project audit we have done in the ministry in the NDDC.
â€œThere so much disaffection on grounds of allegations against happenings in the NDDC. Several people come reporting to us, writing petitions here and there on contractual extortion.â€ On people wanting to get 10 per cent or five per cent before contractors are paid, the minister said: â€œI have written to the managing director to investigate that, while I am also carrying out my independent investigation. Such reports are rampant and anybody found to be liable will be made to face the law.â€