The Senate Committee on the Niger Delta has warned contractors executing projects for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to be prepared to work or refund the money paid to them.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, gave the marching orders on Wednesday during a courtesy visit of members of his committee to the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He said that those who have run away with money meant for the development of the Niger Delta would be held accountable, adding that the Senate Committee was determined to help the NDDC recover all funds due to it statutorily. “In discharging its oversight functions, my committee will ensure that every contributor to NDDC pays what they owe the commission, because we cannot afford to toy with the development of that very important region,” he said.
“It’s important that NDDC gets all that is due it from the Ecological Fund, for instance,” he said, pledging to do all that was necessary to resolve the impasse over the non-payment by gas processing companies to the NDDC fund.
Senator Nwaoboshi said that his committee had obtained the Supreme Court ruling which the Nigeria LNG Limited was relying upon to renege on its funding obligations to the NDDC. The case was not decided on merit and we have, therefore, advised the commission to follow up on the legal issues.
The committee chairman said that even the budget of the oil companies, which the NDDC could not get before now, had been obtained by the committee. “We have obtained all their budgets from the year 2000. That will enable the NDDC to appropriately calculate its own 3 per cent share of the budget and correctly determine whether they have been paying the correct percentage or shortchanging the commission,” he said.
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi said the committee was in Rivers State to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the NDDC from its inception to date. He stated that the committee would also address critical issues relating to the budget of the NDDC, which would soon be presented to the Senate.
Earlier in his remarks, the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari said that the commission had received just over N500 billion since inception, while it was being owed N800 billion. “That is why we need the strong voice of members of the Senate to tell our story,” she said.
“We have good stories to tell like the Ogbia-Nembe Road, in Bayelsa State, which the commission is executing with Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, the orthopaedic and cardiovascular hospitals in the 9 states and the proto-type hostels for universities and polytechnics.”
The Senate Committee also paid a courtesy call to the Rivers State Governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike at the Government House.
The governor called for greater inputs of states in the conception and execution of key projects by the NDDC. He said that inputs from states in the region would reduce the incidents of the duplication of projects by the states and the NDDC.
He said: "It is important for states to make inputs, so that necessary projects are executed by the NDDC."
He regretted that there are several abandoned projects under the NDDC. He advised the Senate Committee on Niger Delta and the NDDC to take steps to end the era of abandoned projects.
The governor called for the allocation of funds for the completion of the East-West Road which cuts across the entire states of the South-South region.
He said it is too early to assess the tenure of the Mrs Semenitari, as the Chief Executive Officer of the commission, since she had only spent a short time in office.