The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has called for a probe into the utilisation of the N20 billion emergency funds allegedly expended by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on projects in the state in the last six months.
He also stated that the state government is exploring the option of suing contractors handling the commission’s projects for delivering sub-standard projects, which caused flooding in parts of the state.
The governor said this while receiving the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on abandoned NDDC projects in the state, in Benin City, the state capital.
Mr Obaseki noted that the state government will stop NDDC contractors from executing sub-standard projects as there is a need for synergy between the state government and NDDC in delivering quality projects.
“This kind of action is embarrassing to our administration and causing us political problems as our citizens are confused about the roads we are constructing and the sub-standard roads executed by NDDC contractors,” he said.
The governor added, “I have instructed the state’s Solicitor-General to begin the process to take legal action against NDDC contractors, who execute sub-standard work in the state, particularly the contractor who handled the project on Apostolic Street off Sokponba Road, which led to flooding in the area. We will blacklist them.
“I am surprised that the NDDC management is here as I invited them months ago when I received complaints about the quality of work done by their contractors but they ignored the invite. There is no need having NDDC in the state when they have total disregard for the state government.”
He said the interim management of the NDDC claimed that N256 billion was spent on emergency project work, out of which N20 billion was spent in Edo State in the last six months, adding, “A year ago, barely 10 per cent of the NDDC budget for Edo State was implemented. The immediate past interim management team of the NDDC needs to come and show us how they spent N20 billion in the state.
“Beyond what the House Committee is doing, there must be a judicial enquiry into the activities of the NDDC. People must go to jail for their corrupt acts. The 13 per cent derivation fund collected from oil-producing communities that was supposed to be used for the development of the region has not been spent by NDDC.”
“We have registered our displeasure on NDDC projects in Edo State and contest the claims of their spending N20 billion in the state for emergency work. We signed a tripartite agreement with NDDC. They were supposed to commit 40 per cent while the state provides 60 per cent. We opened an account but they didn’t remit one kobo into it,” he noted.
The leader of the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committees on NDDC abandoned projects in Edo State, Sergius Ogun, said they were in the state to investigate abandoned NDDC projects, noting that the committee has a short time to work and submit its report to the leadership of the House.
Mr Ogun said the standing committee that will take over from the Ad-Hoc committee will be announced soon, adding, “This is pro-active. That was why the Ad-Hoc committee was set up, not waiting for the standing committee to be inaugurated.”
The Director, Edo State Office of the NDDC, Gbubemi Ogor, said the commission agreed with the position of the governor on NDDC projects in the state, adding, “We have agreed to review a lot of our projects in Edo State. The governor has expressed his dissatisfaction on our projects and we have taken his words to heart and have set up a committee. We will be meeting with the commissioner of infrastructure next week on the issues.”