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Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, NDDC Acting MD/CEO

NDDC Audit: Ex-militant leaders cry out over delayed contractors’ payments

Ex-militant leaders on Sunday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state capital, cried out to the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over delays occasioned by ongoing audit at the Commission.

The leaders bemoaned the untold hardship experienced by contractors after certified completion of works without being paid.

The leaders under the aegis of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI) said some of the contractors were faced with threats of forfeiture of collateral to banks over unpaid loans.

The LPCDI’s call was contained in a statement signed by its National President, Chief Reuben Wilson and Secretary, Nature Kieghe, made available to newsmen on Sunday in Yenagoa.

They called on the NDDC for urgent measures to halt the psychological pains being inflicted on concerned contractors by commencing payment to contractors who had completed their projects in accordance with their contractual obligations, especially the “quick impact emergency contracts.”

They said the call was to ameliorate untold hardship experienced by the contractors, who have faithfully and diligently executed their contracts but were not paid due to the on-going forensic Audit of NDDC.

“The contractors that are mostly affected are the ones that have completed the “emergency contracts” awarded by the Ekere Nsima administration.

“Most of them borrowed money from the banks with their houses as collateral to finance the execution of the emergency contracts.

“We are therefore calling on the Interim Management Committee to commence payment of such contractors to avoid banks seizing their houses used as collateral.

“The unnecessary delay of their payments will have huge negative effects on the execution of NDDC projects in the future because it will certainly discourage other contractors from going the extra-mile to complete such projects.

“This will occasion more abandoned and sub-standard projects in the Niger Delta Region.

“We are also calling on the members of the National Assembly not to constitute themselves as impediments to the accelerated development of the Niger Delta Region.

“The lawmakers should not involve in frustrating and politicising their responsibilities toward the NDDC.

“The NDDC is an interventionist agency designed to accelerate the development of the Niger Delta Region.

“But our findings have revealed that some, instead of using their oversight functions and budgetary powers to facilitate the development of the region through the NDDC, use such powers to frustrate the smooth operations of NDDC.

“We are therefore, appealing to such members of the National Assembly to desist from such unpatriotic and negative acts and use their constitutional powers to facilitate the development of the region via the Niger Delta Development Commission.

“This is very imperative because if the development of the Niger Delta Region is not given priority attention, it is possible that the existing fragile peace in the region may not be sustained for long.

“We all know the consequences of allowing the past to resurface.

“As active actors in the past and critical stakeholders of the struggle for the betterment of the Niger Delta Region, we don’t want such a repeat of the past.

“This is therefore a solemn appeal to members of the National Assembly to give priority to the development of the Niger Delta Region in the discharge of their duties.

“We are also using this medium to call on all Niger Delta people in leadership positions both in the executive and legislature, especially at the Federal level to unite and use such positions to advance the betterment of the Niger Delta Region.

“Rather than use the powers to fight themselves to the detriment of the development of the region and our people.

“We should desist from pulling down each other with unnecessary petitions because of selfish interests. We should always put the Niger Delta Region first before our individual interests,” LPCDI stated.

LPCDI advised political leaders not to contribute to the underdevelopment of the region by destroying each other for the sake of self-aggrandisement .

LPCDI noted that there were formidable forces from outside the region bent on keeping the Niger Delta in perpetual political slavery and underdevelopment, adding that such forces sponsor disunity and division within the region.

LPCDI advised Niger Delta people holding public offices to give priority to the development of the region and people as doing so will drastically reduce the internal wranglings and the plethora of petitions from fellow Niger Delta people.

LPCDI lauded the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President for the prompt payment of the monthly stipends of beneficiaries under the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

LPCDI also urged people of Niger Delta and critical stakeholders to unite and assist the NDDC to effectively execute its mandate to accelerate the development of the Niger Delta Region.

“We should not turn the Commission to a cash cow for few privileged persons across the country but ensure that it fulfills its mandate by transforming the current pathetic state of the Niger Delta Region to a modern and conducive environment for the betterment of the region and its people.

“We advice the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC to work in unison in discharging their duties and mandate by eschewing any forms of rancour that can cause disunity among them.

“Also that they should ensure they provide palliatives to the very indigent people of the riverine communities who are grappling with harsh economic conditions occasioned by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” LPCDI added.

 

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