By Jethro Ibileke
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has thrown his weight behind the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari for a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The Governor said this when he received the acting Managing Director of NDDC, Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh, with other members of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House in Benin City.
He noted that the state ranks highest in the commission’s abandoned project list.
Obaseki who frowned at the top-to-bottom governance arrangement of the NDDC, added that it can’t develop the region.
This is even as he stressed that the commission’s defaulting contractors must be jailed.
“To resolve the issue of corruption in NDDC, people must go to jail. Those who supervised and managed these contracts and every other person found culpable must be made to face the law,” he said.
“The NDDC has not been fair to Edo State as we have more abandoned projects in the state than other states. We are disappointed with the old management and board of NDDC.
“We insist on the forensic audit to ensure such doesn’t happen again. I hope that with the new acting MD, we would begin to do the right thing and move the region forward.
“The truth is that the governance arrangement of NDDC from top to bottom can’t develop the region. Its DNA is corruption. We see how NDDC contracts are traded and how much premium are paid on the contracts,” he said.
The Governor Obaseki however assured that his administration will work with the new NDDC management to ensure it meets its goals.
In her response, Dr. Nunieh said the commission was in the state to inspect some of the roads and projects the NDDC listed as completed, abandoned, failed and on-going.
She noted that most of NDDC contractors have failed because they got multiple contracts from various sources.
According to her, “President Muhammad Buhari has ordered for a forensic audit to commence and we have gotten documents ready and the process will start in January 2020.
“Since commencement of its intervention in Edo State, the NDDC has embarked on 738 infrastructural conventional projects valued at over N118 billion. Of these, 48 valued at N36.6 billion, are reported as on-going or abandoned.”