The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has paid over N30 billion to its contractors since the new board and management assumed duties on November 4, 2016.
The Managing Director, Mr Nsima U.Ekere, stated this during a meeting with executive members of the NDDC Contractors’ Association at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He stated that he has also given directives that all interim payment certificates below N20 million be processed for immediate payment. “The process of documentation,” he said, “has started, because we believe that things should be done right.”
Mr. Ekere disclosed that the new board met over 8,000 projects, among which were numerous abandoned projects spread across the region, as well as and a contingent liability of N1.3 trillion.
The NDDC Chief Executive however stressed the need for the Commission to get its full funding, as provided for in the NDDC Act, to enable it carry out its mandate. He outlined the efforts being made to tackle the funding challenge, noting that the Commission was already meeting with the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta to ascertain the exact outstanding being owed the Commission.
He said that the new Governing Board and Management of the NDDC came prepared for the task of developing the Niger Delta, having used the four months before inauguration to work out new strategies for development, anchored on the 4-R initiatives.
Mr. Ekere said: “We were nominated in July and then resumed on the 4th of November, 2016. So, the four months of waiting gave us one advantage that this board and management have over any other board. Those four months gave us the opportunity to sit down and properly go through what the challenges and issues were, and then went ahead and instituted the reforms that we have been trying to implement.
“We enunciated the 4-Rs strategy; to restore the core mandate of the Commission, to restructure the balance sheet, to reform the governance systems and to reaffirm a commitment to doing what is right and proper at all times.”
The NDDC boss said that part of the reforms involved the introduction of technology to enhance the service delivery systems of the Commission. He observed, however, that this may take some time to be fully operational and as such required some measure of understanding from the Commission’s stakeholders.
He added: “We are reforming the governance systems in NDDC. By the time we are done, we will institute the governance system that we know is proper and run NDDC according to best international standards, so that when we leave, it will be impossible for any board that comes after us to reverse them.
“For the first time also, this board approached the oil companies working in the Niger Delta to involve them in the budgeting process for them to also make input, since they are working in the communities and these host communities also have needs.”
Mr. Ekere stated that Management recently set up a committee on investigative hearing to review allegations of corruption levelled against some of its staff, as part of the commitment to institute transparency and probity within the Commission.
He, however, expressed regrets that “the hearing was disrupted following some security breaches,” adding: “In spite of this, a lot of petitions and memoranda have been received by the committee and they are working on them to get to the end of these allegations.”
He declared that the Commission was ready to work with partners who would add value to regional development, as well as help the Commission to deliver on its mandate. “I believe in constructive engagement, thus we are engaging with various stakeholders to confront the challenges facing the Niger Delta,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Mr Joe Adia, President of the NDDC Contractors’ Association, recalled their contributions in advocating for the release of the outstanding funds owed the NDDC by Federal Government and pledged to work with the NDDC. “We must work together to improve the service delivery of the Commission,” he assured.
He called on the NDDC boss to recognise the contractor’s association as a partner in progress, noting that the Commission had a lot to gain from working closely with the contractors.