Senate Chief Whip, Dr Orji Kalu, said on Monday that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had not paid contractors that handled roads he facilitated in Abia. Kalu stated this in a statement issued by Mr Emeka Nwala of Office of the Senate Chief Whip and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)The former governor of Abia was reacting to claims by Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio that 60 per cent contracts awarded by the commission were handled by members of the National Assembly.
Akpabio mentioned ex governors Emmanuel Uduaghan, James Ibori, Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume, Sen. Orji Kalu and others as beneficiaries of several contracts awarded by the NDDC.
According to Kalu, the issue at stake in the NDDC has to do with missing funds and not works done, so the NDDC forensic audit should focus on the missing funds and not works done.
“The road projects mentioned by the minister are the interventions I facilitated for the communities as a private citizen before I became a senator,’’ he said.
Kalu argued that his name was mentioned because he used his letter headed paper to write a sympathetic letter to NDDC in 2016 pleading with the commission to rescue roads in Abia. “I was Governor of Abia between 1999 and 2007 and never held any public office until June 11, 2019 when I was sworn in as a senator.
“Between 2016 and 2018 during my tour to several communities, leaders and welfare unions of most communities pleaded for urgent intervention on some dilapidated roads.
“I wrote to the NDDC informing the body of the conditions of these roads and the need for their attention since Abia is an NDDC state.
“The NDDC in their consideration which I am very grateful to, awarded the roads to companies that duly tendered for the projects and not myself.
“Whatever link I have with the projects is because it was considered due to my intervention,” Kalu said.
The senate chief whip also noted that the contracts were awarded by fully constituted body of NDDC with its board and not any interim management of the commission.
He said “the roads I requested for intervention as mentioned by the minister were repairs of Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu road, Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru ring road and Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze Ndi Oji Abam-Atan road.
“Others are Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende and Ozu-Amuru-Abam roads.
“The contractors have completed and delivered these roads long time ago except Abam-Atani road, which I learnt from the contractors was slowed down due to rain but still ongoing.
“Meanwhile, the contractors who built these roads have not been paid any dime.
“I am much concerned about roads because I understand the economic importance of good roads.
“As a community leader, I do not intend to stop my interventions on roads in NDDC states because all the states need good roads.
“Good roads help to drive the economy,’’ Kalu said.
He, however, urged the commission to focus on paying contractors that delivered their jobs. (NAN)