Youths in Ukwa West local government area, the only oil producing area of Abia State, have thrown their weight behind the forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari late, last year.
The youths also called for the prosecution of all contractors of NDDC that abandoned the projects for which they have collected money from the Commission.
Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, recently, revealed that the NDDC had received over N15 trillion in the last 19 years with nothing on the ground to show for it in the Niger Delta region.
The spokesman of Ozar Youths Forum, OYF, in Ukwa West local government area, Comrade Akobundu Enyioko, expressed their solidarity with Mr. President for the decision to probe the activities of the NDDC from 1991 till date. He said the probe was necessary in view of the fact that the Commission has failed in delivering on the objectives for which it was established, adding that there was no single project to point at in Ukwa as the achievement of the Commission.
Comrade Enyioko described as provocative the fact that an oil producing area, whose land have been degraded by oil exploration and exploitation activities, could be suffering serious neglect even when the government thought it wise to create an interventionist agency to cater to the needs of the area, stressing that the people of the area would have some feeling of relief if the contractors who abandoned projects after collecting money are exposed and made to face the law.
He wondered why the government would close its eyes to the a provision of the NDDC Act that there should be a Monitoring Committee to monitor the management of NDDC funds and the implementation of the projects of the Commission, noting that there were necessary provisions in the NDDC Act that would ensure that the Commission delivered on its mandate.
In his own comments, Mr. Emenike Nworgu, an unemployed graduate, a member of the National Youth Council, Ukwa chapter, described as shoddy jobs that are handled by NDDC contractors in his local government, pointing out that many of the jobs are abandoned.
He said that his whole area were littered with abandoned projects of the NDDC and that some of the new roads created in the area by the Commission have become impassable due to the poor handling of the projects.
Mr Nworgu condemned the fact that the NDDC concentrated much of its attention on roads to the detriment of other basic infrastructure needed to improve the quality of life of the people of the area, adding that even the road projects done have deteriorated so much that movement in the area have become a major challenge to the people.
According to him, ” the projects that I know that were contained in the list of projects made public in December, 2019 by the Joi Nunieh led Interim Management Committee of the NDDC are abandoned.
” These projects are the construction of Ngwaiyiekwe – Owo- Umuadienwe road awarded to Lemantic & co in 2015 at the cost of N429,803,809.50; construction of Umuagalaba – Umuodikaogu – Umualaga road at Owaza, awarded in 2015 to Wisfremary Global Resources Ltd at the cost of N400,300,200.00; the remedy of failed section of the Akirika – Azumini road awarded in 2016 to Joraga Construction Ltd at the cost of N670,350,961.88 and the construction of Obohia – Ohanku -Aba with a Spur to Ohambele – Obeaku awarded to Herbertech Nig Ltd at the cost of N2,080,262,907.19.
“Others include the construction of Ikeala – Igbeala okpulo, Uzuaku awarded in 2015 to Idemko Consult Ltd at the cost of N243,394,967.00; construction of Umuagalaba -Umuisika Ogboube Uzo – Obuzor road at Owaza, awarded in 2015 to Vinot Integrated Services Ltd at the cost of N249,500,000.00 and the construction of Central School road to Ike-Akami road, Uzuaku awarded in 2015 to Ngamec Nig Ltd at the cost of N224,831,233.75”.
He said there was an urgent need for these projects, among others, to be verified by the forensic Auditors to determine the extent of work done and the amount of money released to the contractors by the NDDC, adding that what they could see on the ground do not give anyone cause to cheer.
Mr Nworgu expressed surprise that close to one year that Mr President ordered a forensic audit, they were yet to see any sign of their presence in their area.
Another youth, Mr Chinedu Nwankwo said that both the Abia State and Federal government were taking the peaceful disposition of Ukwa youths for granted, stressing that in the face of the non-performance of the NDDC after receiving so much money from the government and the international oil companies, the state government on its own has insisted on bringing a cattle settlement to our local government notwithstanding the opposition of the people to such a project.
He expressed optimism that the forensic audit of the operations of the NDDC would expose the degree of corruption in the Commission, stressing that all the contractors found to have abandoned their jobs must be prosecuted.