We Paid N33bn to Vendors before N’ Assembly’s Embargo, Says NDDC

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has debunked allegations of missing funds, saying only N33 billion has been paid to its vendors since the inception of the expanded Interim Management Committee (IMC).

Speaking during a press briefing at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt yesterday, the NDDC Director, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Charles Obi Odili, explained that the N33 billion that was paid was just a very little part of a debt portfolio of about N2 trillion.

He said, “the commission has paid what we describe as historical debts amounting to about N33 billion from the inception of the expanded IMC on February 20, 2020. The historical debts cover debts to our vendors; some persons who have been owed between N1 million and N3 million, some for over seven or eight years.”

Odili noted that the payments were actually intended to alleviate the sufferings and plight of Niger Delta people, adding: “The essence is to save lives and livelihoods of the Niger Delta people because some people borrowed money from banks to do little supplies and some of them got very ill and were in the hospitals and there was nothing that the IMC could have done but to assuage to this very humane issue and I think that any compassionate person anywhere in the world will do same.”

He said the historical debts, which have been settled to a large extent, included the Commission’s obligations to those who do supplies and render services, like hotels and other things to keep the organisation running.

Explaining why some NDDC contractors have not been paid, Odili said: “the National Assembly has instructed us not to pay for road projects and most of the contractual obligations we owe to our contractors who are complaining are those who have done majorly road projects. So, we have an instruction from the National Assembly not to pay and we are abiding by this instruction. When it is lifted, all our contractors, especially those who have done road jobs will get their payments.”

According to the NDDC Director, “The Commission has a debt portfolio of about N2 trillion. So, when people say that we have paid so much they do not know that we have just paid very little from the avalanche of debts that we owe as an organisation and sincerely no organisation will want to be in a situation like this.”