The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has inaugurated a 50-member Contracts’ Verification Committee to confirm and document projects and contracts in the nine Niger Delta states, as part of the process to redirect the Commission’s activities.
Inaugurating the committee at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, the Acting Managing Director, Gbene Dr. Joi Nunieh, said the exercise was a prelude to the forensic audit of the Commission ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nunieh stated that the verification was necessary because there were so many fake Interim Payment Certificates (IPCs) being claimed by NDDC contractors.
“Members of the committee will go round all the NDDC mandate states to verify these projects and contracts,” she said.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer noted that the committee’s assignment, which would last for two weeks, was the first stage in the redirection exercise at the interventionist agency.
She said: “After the initial documentation and verification, we will go out to all the states to identify and inspect the projects. We will work with professional groups, such as architects, engineers and quantity surveyors to ensure that the projects were done to acceptable standards for the benefit our communities.
“We have selected credible people from the Commission to carry out this important assignment and we expect them to be steadfast and resist all manners of external influences from those who may be claiming to have connections in high places.”
Nunieh said that the NDDC had records of all the contracts that had been awarded by the Commission and as such, anyone coming with a fake IPC would be arrested by the security agencies.
She advised Nigerians not to buy IPCs and contracts purported to emanate from NDDC, noting: “We are aware that some people are still signing and awarding contracts from hotel rooms. Unfortunately for them, we have a comprehensive list of all our contracts. If you come with fake IPC, you will be promptly arrested.”
The NDDC boss observed that some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), which were not supposed to be profit making, became contractors, contrary to the law regulating their activities.
She said: “We will invite the NGOs to come for verification so that they can explain why they were involved in profit making contracts. When you claim that NDDC owes you, you will also know that he who goes to equity must come with clean hands”
Nunieh thanked the governors of the NDDC mandate states that had set up committees to investigate the jobs done by the Commission’s contractors in the various states, following the list of contracts given to them. She urged them to help fish out dubious contractors claiming to have executed jobs that exist only on paper.
She assured all contractors that did their jobs according to specifications that they would be paid after the verification exercise, adding: “We have started paying consultants and suppliers that have indeed done their jobs well. They will be paid without having to bribe anyone. You don’t need to pay gratification to get your bills paid in the new NDDC.”
The Chairman of the Verification Committee and the Executive Director Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, thanked the NDDC boss for giving them the opportunity to serve. He assured that they would approach the assignment with diligence and thoroughness.
He remarked: “You have made it clear that the revalidation exercise is free. No contractor shall be asked to pay money and nobody should make any demands from the contractors.”
He assured members of the committee that the NDDC would do all that was necessary to guarantee their security and give them adequate protection to do their job without let or hindrance.
Ojougboh stated: “The Commission will do its best to ensure that you are not intimidated or harassed. So, you should not succumb to any pressure.”
The committee has the NDDC Director of Project Monitoring and Supervision, Engr. Dr Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, as Deputy Chairman and the Director, Community and Rural Development, Mrs. Iyingi Numbere, as Secretary.