Despite the directive by the federal government to all contractors mobilised by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to return to site and complete their respective projects, the contractors have failed to comply with the directive.
The federal government had through the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, threatened to expose the contractors if they fail to return to sites in the various oil producing states after about 12,128 abandoned projects were uncovered through the forensic audit carried out without a trace of contractors who the jobs were awarded to.
Akpabio was quoted to have said recently that the interim report of the forensic verification exercise had been revealing, adding; “The process has been transparent, we listed 9,080 projects to be considered in the verification process but in less than three months the report so far shows that 12,128 projects have been discovered as abandoned projects with no specific ownership attached.”
Akpabio made the disclosure when he hosted the United Nations deputy secretary-general, Hajia Amina Mohammed, who paid him a courtesy visit.
The minister was quoted as saying; “There was no initial coordination. So, as part of its mandate, the ministry has adopted a program called “Strategic Implementation Work plan” which will coordinate the activities of development partners and stakeholders to prevent duplication of projects in the region.
“Since the discovery of crude oil in the region in 1956, several interventionist agencies had been set up to address the social and environmental degradation of the area, but they all failed to provide the needed succor to the people. In other to address the situation, the present administration decided to set up a forensic auditing process to access and evaluate the achievements that have been made by NDDC in the region since its existence”.
LEADERSHIP Sunday investigation revealed that despite the release of N832.93 billion by the budget office, ministry of finance and national planning to NDDC between 2001 and 2020 across the nine oil producing states, there are no tangible results on ground.
This is even as the projects, which are mainly road construction, provision of water and electricity, construction and rehabilitation of hospitals and school construction, sea embankment, dredging of rivers, and construction of bridges are mostly abandoned after laying the foundation, totally abandoned, or poorly done.
Our correspondents report that in Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Delta states, the projects on ground are not commensurate to the actual releases made for them as it was difficult to identify any star project executed by the commission.
However, at the time of filing this report, the situation in Imo, Abia and Ondo states could not be ascertained by our correspondents.
When LEADERSHIP Sunday visited project sites in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Delta states, signboards of proposed projects or better still awarded contracts showing the names of the projects, contractor(s), and durations were common sights. Weeds were found to have taken over most of the project sites.
Meanwhile, communities hosting projects awarded by the NDDC in Abia State have decried the state of abandonment and poor execution. Such projects cover roads, electricity, water, erosion control, school renovation, solar power and health centres, among others.
Further investigations revealed that only a negligible percentage of the over 600 projects awarded by the commission in the state has been completed.
In some areas, the contractors excavated the roads, dumped stones and disappeared, leaving the stones to constitute pains to road users. In others, the contractors did shoddy jobs as the roads have become worse than their former states.
It was also gathered that most of projects were at different stages of completion with many fully paid for while others which are not maintained have become sanctuaries to criminals.
In many communities abandoned or badly executed NDDC road projects have caused gully erosions and flooding.
Sources in the affected states alleged that some of the roads listed as ongoing or completed by NDDC had to be constructed by state governments, but this could not be confirmed at press time.
LEADERSHIP Sunday also discovered a common feature of some of the projects to include not having signposts to indicate the contractor handling them, address and details of the contract.
Our correspondent gathered that over 50 projects awarded by the NDDC in Rivers State are still abandoned.
The projects scattered in almost all the communities in the state include classroom blocks, roads and hospitals.
When LEADERSHIP Sunday visited the Borokiri (Port Harcourt) Okrika Road project, one of the major road projects awarded by the NDDC but abandoned since 2015, there was no contractor on site.
However, the equipment of a construction company (names withheld) was found on site.
In Akwa Ibom, it was observed that about 20 per cent of contractors handling projects have mobilised after the directive by the presidency, others are yet to do so.
Our correspondent who visited some of the abandoned projects across the state observed that contractors handling internal road roads in Uyo had moved to site and some are near completion but those in Eket Ibeno, Esit- Eket, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno were adamant.
Similarly, contractors handling several water projects at Ifa Atai, Ikot Ubo, Ikono, Etebi Ewang, Etinan, Mbo, Urueffong Oruko and Oron local government areas areas are yet to commence work.
But the contractor handling the 300 and 500 bed capacity student hostel at the University of Uyo has completed the project which is billed for commissioning in the next few weeks.
Those handling road projects, especially at Eastern Obolo, Oruk-Anam, Ibiono Ibom, Ikot Ekpene, Ukanafun and Obot Akara local government areas say they were greatly hampered by incessant rainfall with attendant flooding.
In Delta State, the story was not different as the people of Ifiekporo community in Warri South local government area decried the spate of abandoned projects in their area.
A former secretary of Ifiekporo community, Peter Ede, said nobody had ever visited their community on behalf of the NDDC to do any water project, despite being mobilised.
Another former chairman of the community, Peter Agbroko, said the NDDC never did such water project in the community till now. At Oghenerurie Iyede, a community in Isoko North local government area of Delta State, a contract for the construction of a water project was awarded to Lesoda Oil & Gas Co Ltd but is yet to commence.
The story is similar in Enhwe, a community in Isoko South local government. Water Petroleum Ltd secured the contract to construct a solar-powered water project there. Just like Oghenerurie community, the project never saw the light of the day.
In Otor-Owhe community, Isoko North local government, the story was not different. The rehabilitation of the Otor-Owhe waterworks was awarded to Crete Industries Nigeria Limited by the NDDC but the water project was not done.
“NDDC only brought street lights here,” said a source from Otor-Owhe community.
The second national vice president of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Chief Nengi James-Eriworio, expressed concern over the spate of abandoned projects in Bayelsa State, describing it as disheartening.
According to Chief James-Eriworio, the abandoned projects which were earmarked and provided for in the federal budget were left abandoned by contractors, thereby denying the state and its people the with which it was cited to the state.
Chief James-Eriworio, who is also the national coordinator of the Association of Rural Chiefs for Peace and Development, said it was disheartening that projects that had been earmarked and budgeted for were left abandoned hereby denying the people of the state the benefits of the projects.
He said: “As elected vice president of INC, part of our priority is to see that our people have a better livelihood, development, progress and peace. So I decided to carry out a project monitoring and assessment tour to visit projects and see things for myself the state of several projects that have been earmarked and budgeted for.
“I completed the assignment today and decided to brief the press on my findings as part of my obligations .Based on that ,we have identified several abandoned projects and I don’t want Bayelsa State to be the abandoned projects capital. NDDC tops the lists, there are several abandoning projects ranging from shore protection works, water hyacint clearing, water projects, bridges, roads among others”.
“There is an abandoned housing project at Elebele, Ogbia local government area, incubation centre which is a project of the federal ministry of Science and Technology, there is also another abandoned project by the federal ministry of communications, the abandoned federal secretariat complex which is about eighty-five percent completed, and many others.”
“However, the area that gives me hope is the Polaku Gas Plant and the Industrial Park projects embarked upon by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, and I want to commend the management of NCDMB led by the executive secretary, Engr Simbi Wabote.”
He expressed the hope that with the pace of work at the NCDMB projects and the commitment of the NCDMB management, the projects would be completed and commissioned in record time and not go the way of other federal government projects in the state.
The Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) recently urged the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to take advantage of the report from ongoing forensic audit to fish out contractors who failed to execute projects awarded to them by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Leaders of the communities, who expressed satisfaction with the forensic audit, accused contractors of abandoning projects after collecting mobilisation fees form NDDC, maintaining that the final report would definitely bring them back to site.
They spoke at the creeks of the Niger Delta, during the field verification of NDDC projects in the region by forensic auditors and journalists to capture their activities at various project sites in Rivers and Delta states.
The interim administrator of NDDC, Effiong Akwa, said the forensic audit of the commission had however led to the completion of 76 projects,
According to him, the audit commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari forced some contractors to return to site.
Akwa made the disclosure at the University of Abuja when he delivered a lecture titled, “The Role of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in National Development’’.
The lecture was organised by the Department of History and Diplomatic Studies of the university.
Akwa said funding had remained a major challenge of the commission since inception, stressing that it had never received full budgetary provision.
He said: “Last month, we took an inventory. Over 76 projects have been completed and delivered to NDDC without the award of a single contract just because the people didn’t want to have issues with the incoming forensic auditors.”
Various project sites visited included provision of transformers and emergency road repairs in in Obio-Akpor local council, in Rivers State, 550 meters shore protection project at Ugborodo community, land reclamation project at Akpakpa-Ajudiabo community, canalisation of Oporoza and others in Warri South-West local council among others.
Community leaders in Ugborodo, Toju Eibietan, said: “We are very happy with this forensic audit. But, we are not happy because NDDC is not pushing this project the way we want it. We are appealing to NDDC to fund contractors to enable them to complete the project. We are afraid erosion could wash away the community.”