While hundreds of NDDC projects remain abandoned and uncompleted across the oil-producing states, partly due to non-release of funds, the agency ‘abandoned’ $70 million in a bank for over a decade, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said.
A series of investigations by PREMIUM TIMES on the status of projects by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) show that many remain abandoned in states like Imo, Akwa Ibom and Cross River, leaving many residents frustrated.
The abandoned projects, which range from health centres to schools, commenced as far back 2006, with some of the contractors saying they were abandoned because the NDDC refused to pay them.
While such projects lingered, however, the agency kept the unspent funds and did not return it to the coffers of the federal government as expected.
“I know of a bank that came to say they have $70 million from 2006, one also came to say ₦170 million had been abandoned, I’ve forgotten in which administrations in the last 11 years, they said they are ready to refund.
“I said no problem, just hang on, we’ll sort all these out when the forensic (audit) comes in to let us know all the recoverable and all that,” The Nation quoted Mr Akpabio to have said in an interview with the paper.
In this analysis, PREMIUM TIMES examines what the moeny could be used for.
What $70 million can do for Niger Delta
Using a Central Bank of Nigeria December 30 official exchange rate of N307 to a dollar, the $70 million is about ₦21.49 billion.
The Niger Delta is the country’s oil-rich region which spans nine states. It includes all the six states from the South-South geopolitical zone, Ondo from the South-West geopolitical zone and two states (Abia and Imo) from the South-East geopolitical zone.
The nine states have a combined total of 185 local government areas — Akwa Ibom (31), Bayelsa (8), Cross River (18), Delta (25), Edo (18), Rivers (23), Ondo (18), Abia (17), Imo (27).
According to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, a Type 2 Primary Health Clinic is expected to cater for a group of villages or neighbourhoods with a population of 2,000 to 5,000 people.
A document by Africa Check which shows a partial list of primary health institutions built between 2001 and 2014 across the country shows that a type 2 Primary Health Clinic was constructed in Ife Central area of Osun State for ₦21 million each.
Hence, barring any variation in prices of building materials, transport or labour, at ₦21 million each, three Primary Health Care clinics can be constructed in each of the 185 local government areas across the region.
Also, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommends one radiotherapy machine per 1 million people, an investigation by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting in 2018 showed that no state in the Niger Delta region has this machine.
The machine could be used to treat cancer patients.
Without associated costs such as the machine vault, treatment planning, oncology information system software, lasers, and other accessories, the most expensive linear radiotherapy machines cost between $750,000 and $1.5million (between ₦230 million and ₦460 million at the official rate of ₦307 to $1).
If the most expensive type is bought for ₦460 million, to equip each of the Federal Teaching Hospitals in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Rivers States; and the Federal Medical Centres in Abia, Bayelsa and Delta, Imo, Ondo States, with a radiotherapy machine would cost the country just about ₦4.14 billion.
Additionally, the 2015 Constituency Projects report by BudgIT shows that the construction and furnishing of three classrooms, a headmaster office and toilet at Ukpogo, Uhunmwode LGA of Edo State, cost ₦15 million.
At this rate, two of these classrooms can be constructed in each of the 185 local government areas across the nine states in the Niger Delta region.