The Imo State Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has assured the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, of support to ensure that it succeeds in the task of developing the Niger Delta region.
Ihedioha spoke during a courtesy visit by the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, and her team of directors at the Imo State Government House, Owerri.
The governor noted that the essence of the NDDC was to take development to the rural areas of the Niger Delta region. He, however, lamented that many years after, “the dreams of the founding fathers have not been realized.”
Ihedioha affirmed that the Imo State government was in full alignment with President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to set up an Interim Management to put things right in the foremost interventionist agency for the Niger Delta.
He said: “The task before the NDDC is enormous but I am confident that you will succeed, especially if you collaborate with the state governments. We have a duty and responsibility to serve the people in the rural areas and the Imo State Government will work hands in gloves with you to serve our people.
“I endorse the forensic audit which I believe will expose the bad eggs that have been working against the region. I commend the President for taking measures to ensure that things work well again in the country.”
Ihedioha expressed disappointment that in spite of the huge resources that had been made available for the development of the Niger Delta region, it was still lagging behind in the provision of basic infrastructure.
He lamented: “It pains me that today after several years, the East-West Road which runs through the Niger Delta region is yet to be completed. Again, our region has the worst network of roads in the country.
The governor observed that people from other parts of the country would no longer sympathize with Niger Deltans because the people have not utilized the opportunities given to the region through the 13 per cent derivation properly. “We have been sabotaging ourselves,” Ihedioha stated.
Earlier, the NDDC Chief Executive Officer, told the governor that the Interim Management Committee, was the ombudsman of the forensic audit ordered by President Buhari, stating: “We shall duly and diligently carry out the audit not minding whose ox is gored and ensure that everyone who collected money for any contract or service from the Commission, delivers same to the region.”
Nunieh pledged to carry out the directives of President Buhari, to stop the rot at NDDC and turn things around for good. She said, however, that it was not all gloom and negativity in the NDDC.
Nunieh remarked: “Although, we have seen projects reported as completed on paper, but yet to start on the ground, like we saw in Bende LGA in Abia State a couple of weeks when we visited, we have also seen mega projects completed in the thick of the mangrove forest, like the 25-kilometre Ogbia-Nembe Road in Bayelsa State.
“That road is the outcome of a joint venture between the NDDC and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC. This is the kind of collaboration the 2020 NDDC seeks with our governors and other development agencies.”
She told the governor: “You shall henceforth see a completely different NDDC that will be collaborative rather than in competition, an NDDC that will build synergy with the State governments that will enhance the development of the region.
The NDDC boss said that from inception, the Commission had embarked on a total of 762 infrastructural projects valued at N146 B illion in Imo State. She added: “Of this, a total of 314 valued at N53.34 Billion have been completed while 179 projects valued at N47.9 Billion are on-going.
“The Commission between 2016 and November 2019, intervened in an emergency manner by embarking on a total of 438 road projects valued at N238.6 Billion in Imo State. Of this figure, 173 valued at N100.2 Billion have been completed, while 97 valued at N58.7 Billion are on-going.”
Nunieh handed over the document containing the details of all the projects to the governor, noting that under the emergency contract regime, the contractors were expected to mobilise to site and complete the projects within one month or forfeit such awards. She noted that the latest of those awards were in April 2019, and all contracts yet to commence were now legally voided.
The Acting Managing Director presented four sewage disposal trucks and 2,000 units of Lassa fever kits to the Imo State government.