Wike Accuses NDDC Of Spending N10bn To Remove Him As Rivers Governor

 

Nyesom Wike has accused the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of plotting to oust him from his position as Rivers State Governor. 

While addressing the Senate Committee on Niger Delta when they visited him in Port Harcourt, Wike said it is sad that the NDDC has been hijacked by political actors using the commission for their selfish interest.

He said the Commission is failing to perform because they have placed politics above the interest of the people.

“What NDDC does through the supervision of their party is to make sure they vote out some money to ensure certain governors do not return.

“You can imagine NDDC wasting ten billion to remove me here, is the money not wasted now?….. NDDC wasted ten billion naira to remove just one governor,” Wike stated.

The governor further alleged that the NDDC is poorly performing because the presidency and the National Assembly will not allow the commission to carry out its duties judiciously.

He also noted that people from the Southsouth have not helped in making the NDDC do the work for which it was created, in that the Niger Delta people have become enemies to themselves.

As at the time of publishing this report, the NDDC had not responded to Wike’s accusation.

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A file photo of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

 

In a similar vein, the Rivers State governor said the Senate has disappointed Nigerians by confirming the immediate past service chiefs as ambassadors.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nomination of the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors, despite criticisms in some quarters.

Those confirmed include former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; the former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; and the former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas.

Others are former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, and the former Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Usman.

Reacting to the development, Governor Wike said Nigerians are not happy that the same lawmakers, who called for the sack of the former service chiefs following their handling of security, confirmed their nomination due to party sentiments and bias.

He urged the legislators to always carry out their duties bearing in mind that their service is not to their parties but to Nigerians.

Governors Still Sidelined In The Affairs Of NDDC, Says Wike

 

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, says despite the inauguration of the advisory council of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), oil-producing state governors are still sidelined in the affairs of the intervention agency.

The governor noted that because the governing party dictates what happens in the NDDC, the commission now acts as a state on its own and refusing to interface with the Governors of the oil-producing States to strategically develop the Niger Delta region.

He stated this when members of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC led by its chairman, Hon (Dr.) Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Thursday.

Governor Wike explained that contrary to the assumption that governors of the Niger Delta are critical stakeholders in the affairs of the NDDC, they are not in the true sense of it.

READ ALSO: Wike Releases N16.6bn To Upgrade RSU Facilities, Establish Three New Campuses

According to him, since the inauguration of the NDDC advisory council last year, the present federal government has ensured that the governors are sidelined in the affairs of the commission.

“Even when we are inaugurated, we were not involved in anything that happens in NDDC. Which is most unfortunate.”

He further continued: “NDDC is like a state on its own without working with the State government and why is it so. It is so because the states of NDDC are controlled by the opposition party therefore there is no need to consult with them.”

The governor explained that in a bid to ensure NDDC does not embark on indiscriminate execution of projects that often distort the state developmental agenda, the Rivers State government recently obtained a court order that prohibits the commission from carrying out projects without the consent of the state government.

Governor Wike urged the National Assembly to be resolute in its oversight function by ensuring that the NDDC stops frittering the resources meant for the development of the Niger Delta region on building roads in Army barracks, police stations, and spending Billions of Naira to ensure he did not win the election.

The governor stated that NDDC and the Rivers State had once agreed to collaborate on a legacy project, but the commission ended up defrauding the State government.

“NDDC fraudulently duped us over the Mother and Child hospital. They duped us. They had an agreement with the State government to build a regional hospital called Mother and Child hospital. They agreed that it will be N1.7 Billion Naira.

State government to bring N800million, they will bring N900 million.

The state government at that time paid their N800million. NDDC mobilised the contractor with N400 million of the N800 million we brought and then abandoned the contractor and the contractor left the site. And when we came on board, we said okay, we don’t want to partner with you again, give us back our N400 million, it became a problem. Politics came in. ”

The governor said he will continually speak out for the interest of the people of Rivers state. According to him, within one year, he has awarded contracts for the construction of eight flyovers and on Wednesday approved over N16 billion for the development of critical infrastructure in the Rivers State University.

“I want the best for my people. They have given me everything in life, so I owe them. It is not what I will make, they have already made me. So what do I offer back.”

He urged the National Assembly to ensure that the planned amendment of the Electoral Act will usher in a new era of free and fair elections.

He insisted that “there cannot be development without good governance. There cannot be good governance without the rule of law. Good governance without the rule of cannot work.”

Leaders of the delegation and chairman of the committee, Dr. Tunji- Ojo explained that the purpose of the visit is predicated on the fact that Governor Wike is a principal stakeholder in the affairs of NDDC.

NDDC Is Not The Birthright Of Any Ethnic Group Or State – Wike

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has condemned the posture of some ethnic groups in the Niger Delta Region that behave as if they own the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Governor Wike said the commission belongs to all States in the region and no one particular ethnic group can assert itself as the dominant owner of the commission as has been observed of recent.

The governor made the declaration when he played host to the Interim Management Committee of NDDC on a courtesy visit to Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

Governor Wike said members of those groups always kick against the appointment of people to head the commission because they feel such persons are not from core Niger Delta States, which he stated must stop.

“Anybody can be appointed in Niger Delta. There are people who believe that if they appoint somebody from Edo or Cross River States, for example, they say no.

That those people are not the core Niger Delta states. We must have to stop that.”
The governor also said such people also leave their states and come to Rivers state to block the gates of the commission, cause crisis, and frustrate economic activities.

“NDDC does not belong to any ethnic group in the Niger Delta region. It does not belong to anybody. There are people who have seen themselves that they are the owners of NDDC. They leave their state and come to NDDC to block the NDDC gate. We are peaceful people, but nobody should push us to the point where we can tell you enough is enough.”

READ ALSO: Don’t Skew Electoral Act To Suit Personal Ambition, Wike Tells NASS

Governor Wike further continued: “The next time they try it again to cause a crisis in our state, I’ll mobilise our people against them. I am not saying if you have a grievance with NDDC you shouldn’t seek how to settle it. But don’t use it to cause problems for us, to begin to make economic activities not to move on.”

The governor challenged the new interim leadership to determined to make a difference, change the current narrative of the commission serving outsiders’ interest, and abandoning its core mandate of developing the region.

Governor Wike said people are abusing the entire region because the commission has wasted trillions of Dollars without lifting the masses of the region out of poverty or commensurate developmental projects on the ground to show for the funds received.

“The problem with us is that you allow people outside to control you. You want to have godfathers from East, West and North. NDDC is created for Niger Delta. Use the money for the people and region.

“They are abusing us that Niger Delta is a curse. Trillions of dollars have been spent, and we cannot say this is what we have spent the money on.

“Those Abuja portfolio contractors are part of the people controlling you. They tell you what to do and you do it for fear that they will remove you. But eventually, you will be removed. So, why not work for the people. When you’re removed, you’ll know you did your best for the region.”

Governor Wike also charged the interim management to always work with all the state governors in the region on equal footing, and without politics so that together, they can achieve desired development.

“Go and visit every governor because they are members of the governing council of NDDC and they are the leaders of the states. You don’t need to entangle yourself with unnecessary bickering, politicking. Show a difference.”

The governor cautioned the NDDC management to obey the subsisting court order that makes it mandatory for the commission to seek the consent of the state government before embarking on any project, particularly in Rivers State. He warned that if the commission defies the state government, then, the commission will be dragged to court for contempt.

“I will not hesitate to tell the Attorney General to file contempt against officials of NDDC and NDDC itself. We will not hesitate. Because we have come to the time that Nigerians must understand we must follow rules. The only way you can talk about good governance is when you obey the rule of law. There cannot be good governance when there is nothing to show you obey the law. Good governance is predicated on the rule of law.”

He urged them to conceptualise a regional project for execution to end the piecemeal partner they had adopted, which has not moved the region forward in terms of infrastructural development.

“I’ve always said to people, when you have the opportunity to make a contribution to the development of your fatherland, you must see it as a blessing God has given you. You must not see it as a way to set back your region.

Governor Wike also urged NDDC to send their partnership support towards the reconstruction of the ongoing dualisation of Eastern By-Pass Road where the NDDC permanent headquarters is located.

He told them to put their temporary office along Aba Road in good condition before moving out to their permanent headquarters office.

Earlier, the Interim Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of the NDDC, Mr. Effiong Akwa said the visit was first to be undertaken by his team to any governor in the region.

Akwa informed the governor that with the newly built permanent NDDC head office now completed, they are ready to commission it on 25th February 2021.
The Interim Administrator on behalf of the commission later presented six waste disposal trucks to the Rivers State Government to improve the sanitary conditions in the state.

Governor Wike noted that this is the first time in his administration that the commission was offering support to the Rivers State Government.

He commended them for demonstrating good corporate social responsibility in encouraging the state government in its drive to restore Port Harcourt to its Garden City status.

NDDC Verifies, Evaluates Scholarship Beneficiaries At Coventry University

Buhari Appoints Nelson Braimbraifa As Acting NDDC MD

 

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has commenced the verification, monitoring, and evaluation of beneficiaries of its Foreign Post Graduate Scholarship program in the United Kingdom, with a visit to Coventry University.

Speaking at a meeting with representatives of the university at the Coventry campus, the NDDC Acting Executive Director Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojoughoh, assured that the Commission would pay all outstanding fees and claims once the verification exercise was concluded.

Dr Ojougboh stressed that the visit to Coventry University was necessary to verify the number of scholars, examine their performance, and check on their wellbeing, especially in the light of the Corona Virus, Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Former NDDC MD Forfeits N250 Million To Government – EFCC

The Executive Director said he was impressed by the way the university had treated the NDDC scholars and their swift response in providing a list of the Commission’s scholarship beneficiaries at the institution for the verification process. He advised that in order to track progress in the future, there should be a more comprehensive reporting structure.

Dr. Ojuogboh explains that the NDDC needed to verify the scholarship awards because of discrepancies in the number of students and the fact that some of those awarded the scholarships in 2019 did not leave Nigeria for studies in the UK.

The Coventry University Regional Manager Africa, Mr. Amit Bhatnagar, confirmed that many NDDC scholars had passed through the institution over the years and that a good number of them were still with them.

The NDDC team, which included an Assistant Director in Education, Health and Social Services, Mrs. Idara Akpabio and the Managing Director of Marg Education International Limited, the Commission’s consultants, Mr. Godson Ideozu, was given a comprehensive list of its scholars in Coventry University by the institution’s Sponsored Student Manager, Laura Munoz Delgado.

NDDC Boss, Others Walk Out On Lawmakers At House Of Reps Investigative Hearing

 

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has walked out on lawmakers at an investigative hearing put together by the House of Representatives. 

The Commission on Thursday refused to make presentations before the House Committee on NDDC.

According to the acting managing director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, the Commission cannot partake an investigative hearing which is being presided over by the chairman of the committee who has been accused by the NDDC of hijacking the Commission’s projects.

READ ALSO: Armed Security Operatives Surround Nunieh’s Home, Wike Moves In To Intervene

Professor Pondei was of the opinion that the NDDC will not get a fair hearing.

Following the NDDC’s action, the committee resolved to issue a warrant of arrest compelling Professor Pondei to appear before the lawmakers and make a proper submission.

 

In this photo taken on July 14, 2020, acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, reads from a paper during the agency’s 2019 budget defence at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Meanwhile, armed security operatives on Thursday surrounded the home of former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joy Nunieh, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

The security operatives are said to have stormed the former NDDC MD’s residence in the early hours of the morning.

Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike reportedly moved to intervene in the stand-off and did resolve the issue.

It was gathered that Joy Nunieh was due to appear before a House of Representatives Committee in Abuja today.

Though the stand-off stopped Mrs. Nunieh from making the trip, she will be making a presentation via zoom.

NDDC To Assist Nine States With N1bn To Aid Fight Against Coronavirus

Buhari Appoints Nelson Braimbraifa As Acting NDDC MD

 

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has pledged to support nine states in the Niger Delta region with N1billion.

This comes amid the rising cases of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari declared COVID-19 a dangerous infectious disease.

According to NDDC’s acting Managing Director, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, the agency was making available N775 million to support the nine states under its mandate.

He added that another N270 million will be released to fast-track the establishment of isolation centres in the 27 senatorial districts across the region.

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“We are exploring avenues to see if we could intervene in providing ventilators and facilitate the procurement of oxygen.

“We are also looking at the drugs that have been used so far in other climes for treatment. The NDDC is going a step above what others are doing,” a statement from NDDC’s spokesman, Charles Obi Odili, quoted the MD as saying.

The commission also announced a total shutdown of its services as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It, however, reminded its workers to adhere strictly to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard on preventive measures.

In doing this, NDDC asked the staff to maintain personal hygiene by washing hands with soap and water and sanitizing hands, maintain social distance and stay away from public places when necessary.

Problems Surfacing At The National Conference Had Been Foretold- Legal Practitioner

AkiriA legal practitioner and Chairman of the National Newspapers Editorial Board, Mr Chris Akiri said some Nigerians are not surprised by goings-on at the National Conference, noting that “even before the conference began, it had been foretold”.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Award-winning breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Akiri said “what is going on was foretold before they started. The meeting was going to be characterised by dissensions and fruitless arguments because of the disparate nature of the delegates and where they come from” adding that “some of us are not surprised that the thing is going this way”.

He noted that the smooth sailing hitherto enjoyed by the delegates was sacked by the realisation that all the things discussed and voted for by delegates at the conference will favour some parts of the country.

“From time to time, their constituents continue to advise them either for or against some of the decisions already reached. So they now say so this is going to favour that part more than us, are you subscribing to this?” adding that “I will not be surprised if this argument goes beyond this”.

He also faulted the adoption of 70 per cent as the consensus benchmark for decisions taken by delegates at the conference noting that “all over the world, and in our country (Nigeria) in particular, if you want to change, adopt, alter, review anything, as far as the constitution is concerned, it is two thirds (2/3) not three quarters (3/4).

“So for you to look for ¾ consensus, you are saying that so many decisions will not be adopted” he said.

Mr Akiri also said some delegates from the same region with a high number can scuttle the chances of any recommendation if it doesn’t favour their region.

He however praised all the recommendations that have been adopted by the delegates but was quick to add that “it was by voice votes, without regard to whether it is 70 or 75 per cent consensus”, wondering why they “now want to bring the issue of 70 per cent consensus, which is different from what they have been doing” adding that “that is the problem; they are now at the final stage and they want to bring in percentage vote”.

He called on Nigerians to be reasonable on the percentage of the resource control of states due to different ecological systems of the regions the state are situated “to avoid problems in the country”.

He cited the provision of the 1999 Constitution which stipulates that at least 13 per cent be given to the south south states before the National Assembly settles down to review the percentage that will be due the region arguing that “you cannot say the National Assembly has not settled down 15 years after| return to democracy in 1999.

Despite the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to alleviate poverty and take proper care of the needs of Niger Deltans, Mr Akiri described their activities as “a mere flea bite on the charnel of problems in the Niger Delta”.

He accused the Ministry of Niger Delta of doing nothing because the ministry is not manned by indigenes of the region, describing the NDDC as a “catastrophe”, insisting that “it does nothing” to change the fortunes of the indigenes.

Mr Akiri made these statements while reacting to goings-on in the National Conference and the recommendations of leaders of the six geo-political zones.

The leaders of the six geo-political zones at the National Conference that deliberated on resource control and power devolution had recommended that the 13 percent resource control be increased to 18 percent, while another five percent be reserved for the development of solid minerals in Nigeria.

They also recommended that five percent be reserved for the rehabilitation of the northeast, northwest and north central zones of the country.

Complete On-Going Projects Before Starting New Ones, Jonathan Tells NDDC

President Goodluck Jonathan has advised the new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to complete on-going projects in the area before embarking on new projects.

Jonathan, who was speaking at the inauguration of the new board of directors of the commission in the Presidential Villa, decried situations where government agencies’ failure to perform   has created blames to be heaped on the presidency.

“A body like NDDC should not just go into a voyage of contracts procurement but ongoing projects must be completed for people to benefit before new ones are awarded,” adding that “there are just too many ongoing projects and we believe that you don’t even have enough manpower to manage the ongoing projects.”

He said he will no longer tolerate a situation where the presidency takes the blame for the failure of organs of government and called on the NDDC board to shun corruption tendencies and work for the development of the region.

“Everything done by government body, the blame, if wrongly done is on the head of the president. If you do badly, it is Jonathan that is probably using NDDC funds for election campaigns, that is what people will say.

“I will really look at your activities clinically, and I will not accept any aberration from the conventional and acceptable way of managing resources of the people,” he said.

The new chairman of the board, Sen. Bassey Ewa Henshaw, and his team promised to create a new positive image for the commission “by adopting a fresh approach and forging a new direction and focus. We hope to create a new more positive image for the commission,” adding that “the NDDC can become the veritable vehicle for it is intended to be for the upliftment of the people of the Niger Delta, a vehicle by which their situation can be transformed from one of deprivation to one of prosperity and hope.”

The former senator added that the new board will “focus on major infrastructural developments that will open up and integrate the sub-region.”

Other members of the board include Mr. Dan-Abia (Managing Director), Itotenaan Ogiri (ED, Finance and Administration), Tuoyo Omatsulu (ED Projects) from Akwa Ibom and Rivers States, respectively.

Others are Ball Oyarede (Bayelsa), Ephraim Etete (Rivers), Etim Inyang Jnr. (Akwa Ibom), Adah Andeshi (Cross River), Tom Amioku (Delta), Samuel Nwogu (Abia), Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo).

Others are Suleiman Sa’d (North-Central), Abdumalik Mahmud (North-East), Enikuomehin Olorungbonju (Ondo) and Mark Ward (Oil Producers Trade Section, OPTS).

 

 

House Of Reps Clears NDDC Boss Of Fraud Allegations

The House of Representatives has cleared the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of wrongdoing, following the investigations into allegations of fraud.

Members of the House Committee on NDDC met with the management of the commission led by the Managing Director, Dr. Christy Atako in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to share their findings.

The meeting was also to provide the commission’s Acting Managing Director the opportunity to tell her own side of the story about the petition written by the commission’s contractors.

During her presentation, Dr Atako shared with the committee, the challenges that the NDDC under her leadership had to deal with, and the pro-active efforts she had made since the three months of her appointment to revive all abandoned projects for the benefit of the people.

The House of Reps committee after a brief discussion then proceeded to clear the NDDC and its Managing Director of the allegations.

The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, Mohammed Garba, said: “The source of the petition is rather baseless and the allegations made were baseless, I regard this as an attempt to blackmail the Acting MD who is doing a very good job.”

The Chairman of the Committee, Nichola Mutu, said: “As a committee, we are very okay with her, we appreciate her, she is doing a wonderful job. We have come to realize that one of the challenges that the commission is facing is monitoring projects and she is doing that very well.”

 

Senate Approves NDDC N315.8b 2013 Budget

The Senate has approved the sum N315.8 billion as the 2013 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The law makers approved N14.9 billion for personnel expenditure and N9.04 billion for overhead cost while the total estimated capital expenditure is put at N2.4 billion and N289.5 billion is for project development expenditure.

The budget estimate is to take effect from April 1st to March 31st, 2014.

However, the Deputy Senate President, who presided over the session warned against late submission of budget by government agencies.

NDDC Trains Staff To Comply With FOI Act

The managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Christian Oboh, has assured stakeholders and the general public of the agency’s readiness to comply with the Freedom of Information act.

This according to him, will enable anyone have the opportunity to seek and get information on the true state of affairs in the commission.

He said this while speaking at a one-day sensitisation and enlightenment training, on the FOI Act, for the management staff of the institution.

He explained that the training was part of efforts to create effective channels for the exchange of information with its key stake holders.

“The FOI act has ushered in a new dawn in the quest for transparency and accountability,” he said.

Mr Oboh stressed that the policy thrust of the NDDC was in tandem with objectives of the FOI Act and indeed all government’s policies that promote democracy.

According to the NDDC boss, everyone in the region have a right to know what goes on in the commission, especially as it concerns monitoring of projects.

He also noted that with the opportunity provided by the FOI Act, it would no longer be acceptable for people to be peddling unverified information about the activities of the commission.

He said that the commission found it necessary to train its management staff to get them fully abreast of the provisions of the FOI Act, so as to facilitate a seamless exchange of information between the NDDC and the public.

Also speaking at the event, the legal officer of the Africa programme, Open Society Justice Initiative, Maxwell Kadiri, x-rayed the duties and obligations of public institutions and their officials under the act.

He noted that challenges to the effective implementation of the act in public institutions could be traced to the culture of secrecy in the public service.

A lecturer at the Nasarawa State University, Profesor Ebele Amali, while presenting her paper said that information disclosure adds social, economic and political value to any nation.

She advised the agency to use benefits of the FOI Act to reduce the animosity that had built up in those who were not properly informed about the activities of the commission.

NBA Debars Four, Suspends One Over ‘Infamous Misconduct’

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has debarred four legal practitioners for misconduct contrary to the rules of legal practice.

The association also suspended one of its members from practice for a period of five years for a similar offence.

The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) found the lawyers culpable of offences ranging from fraudulent land sales, concealment of recovered debt and extortion using blackmail.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Joseph Daudu warned legal practitioners  bringing “ridicule and disgrace to the legal profession”.

Those debarred include Timipa Okponipere, Anozie Ibebunjo, G.C Monyei , J.A Agwuncha ,while Olawale –Ojongo-Daniels  was suspended for five years.

Though none of the accused persons was at the proceedings, their absence did not stop the legal practitioners from handing down the punishment.

One of the accused persons, one Timipa Okponipere was said to have tried to extort the sum of N40 million from the former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe for unsolicited nomination for the national merit award, an offence contrary to the rules of practice in Nigeria.

While Mr.  Monyei , who acted as a debt receiver for a company, failed to return the proceeds of  the recovery to its owners and Ojongo-Daniels  was found guilty of receiving money from a client and refused to represent the client in court nor did he refund the money.

Having found all the accused persons culpable of the offences against them, the committee directed the chief registrar of the Supreme Court to debar four of the accused persons for misconduct as lawyers, while Mr Olawale Ojongo-Daniels be suspended from practice for five years.

Over time the general belief is that corruption among legal practitioners has been on the rise, and, it is hoped that steps such as this one will serve as checks for legal practitioners in the country.