By Imo Udoima
I am constrained to address this all important issue given the recent wave of propaganda effluvia that has been released into the polity.
In Akwa Ibom State and indeed across the country’s Delta region, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has become another name for substandard and abandoned projects. In fact, communities get very infuriated and emotional when projects in their areas are awarded to the NDDC. It will either the project will end up like the deplorable Udo Ekong street or Nelson Mandela in Uyo. The common knowledge is either the NDDC will do a shoddy job or will abandon it. Till this second, the NDDC is not proud enough to commission even a single metre of road in Akwa Ibom State. The quality is sorely poor.
Things have gone really worse under the current leadership of the Commission led by Nsima Ekere, a one time deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, who hurriedly resigned when it was discovered he wanted to topple his boss.
The current NDDC has gone worse with cries of shoddy execution of projects and complaints of projects abandonment.
According to the Special Adviser to the Cross River State Governor on NDDC, Victor Effiom Ekpo, “About 80 per cent of NDDC projects in Cross River State are abandoned. And in the last two years, the projects amount to 72, and the total amount appropriated for NDDC projects in the state for 2015 and 2016 is over N40 billion. The problem is that some contractors mobilised to site, while some did not at all. Another set of contractors even collected some money and later got certificate of completion, without even mobilising to site at all. This kind of situation, where the NDDC and contractors use Cross River State as a place to make money from without doing anything or giving commensurate service is very worrisome because these projects are supposed to better the lives of Cross Riverians, through NDDC as the intervention agency. So, let it be known that some contractors, who were awarded contracts in Cross River State do not even mobilise to site, but will find their way around NDDC, obtain their certificate of completion, get their full payment and walk away”.
There is tremendous fraud perpetuated under the Nsima Ekere’s leadership at the NDDC. One of the affected abandoned projects is the Palace Road in Akamkpa Okoyong. The road leads to the king’s palace. That road, the contractor has gotten the certificate of completion, and NDDC has made almost 100 per cent payment. There is another one, a road project at Heritage Estate. That one also the NDDC has almost finished paying the contractor but the contractor just did very little part of the drainage and left. There is also Edem Odo Street in the Bogobiri area of Calabar Municipal Council. The contractor has already been paid by the NDDC, yet the road is so bad. One of the major problems we have with NDDC is that when it says it is going to work on Road A in Calabar, it will award the contract to a Port Harcourt-based contractor. When the contractor arrives Calabar from Port Harcourt, the Calabar Office of NDDC will divert it to another place and the road will disappear and full payment will be made. The MD of NDDC is milking billions from this fraud.
There is a terrible fraud ongoing in NDDC.
The level of politics in NDDC is so high and frustrating. NDDC was established to intervene and assist communities in the region, but there is a big problem-we are not feeling the impact of NDDC. There is a serious cartel in the NDDC and members of the cartel are playing politics.
In Akwa Ibom State, the NDDC has abandoned a total of 121 rural roads, 75 classroom blocks, 69 rural water schemes, 43 mini-electrification projects among others across the state.
On a visit to the state last month, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, faulted the evaluation of projects done by the commission. It was a big indictment and a confirmation of the mismanagement under Nsima Ekere.
Now that Nsima Ekere intends to be the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, is he going to run the state like NDDC? His current desperation is unprecedented, he is causing grave crises in the APC despite other party men trying to paint a good picture. He has dispatched Clement Ikpatt, Udo Silas, Perry Ntuk, Cletus Ukpong and other conscienceless elements to run down Akwa Ibom State. His sponsorship of falsehood and blackmail on Governor Udom Emmanuel is unprovoked and unnecessary. He is a traitor and should be avoided like a plaque.
Nsima of all people cannot play saint and demonize other people. His present assignment at NDDC is a collosal failure. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. His present scorecard is a disaster to say the least, more salt to the present APC incompetence. The present NDDC has just nothing to show for the billions released for projects. It’s a sad cry, a shame indeed.