Indigenes and residents of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, as well as stakeholders and civil society organizations have called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to stop at forensic auditing of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), but prosecute officials and contractors found culpable.
The call was made Friday during a Radio Town Hall Meeting Against Corruption, organized by Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG), with the support from the MACARTHUR FOUNDATION.
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the forensic audit of the troubled Commission, following massive corruption allegations since the establishment of NDDC.
According to Darlington Nwauju, a resident of Woji community in Rivers State, said the history of abandoned projects dates back from 1961 till date, urging the federal government to ensure that adequate punishment is meted out on NDDC contractors who would be found wanting.
“I believe that merely asking contractors to go back to site will be a dis-service to the people of the region.”
A Human Rights lawyer, Frank Tietie, however, blamed the rate of abandoned projects on criminal collusion by people of the region who are unfortunately running the affairs of NDDC. He said Niger Delta people have become their own enemies, while also advising the federal government to take advantage of the forensic auditing to expose corrupt individuals who are part of the years of rot in NDDC.
Earlier in the meeting, the Olu of Warri, His Majesty Ogiame Ikenwoli, through a recorded message urged President Buhari to revoke the shoreline protection project in Koko, Warri North Local Council, Delta State, saying it was shabbily executed.
His words: “This is no job at all, I feel bad that such a shoddy is done in my community. Koko is a very special place in my kingdom, there is Nigerian Ports Authority and world class museum here, so everybody from the whole world comes here because of the strategic location and this is the only road leading to the community.
“That was why they said let them construct shoreline protection to protect the community but this cannot stand the test of time.
“I have seen shoreline protection but haven’t seen anything like this. This job should be terminated and a good contractor should be gotten to do a good job or should let the contractor know that this job is unacceptable.
“Tell Mr President we appreciate and thank him for this job but it is unacceptable,” he stated.
According to Ezenwa Nwagwu, Convener of Say No Campaign, NDDC cannot boast of completing and equipping a single hospital in the region since establishment, adding that prosecution of contractors will discourage the ugly state of affairs. He charged the people of the region to get involved in projects being executed in their communities.
Umuakpo Oviemuno from Isoko North, Delta State, added that in his community, a road awarded over 10 years at an initial cost of N3.5bn has unfortunately remained uncompleted.
Activist, Orugbo Ogisaman who hails from Bayelsa State said road projects have been abandoned for over 12 years by NDDC in his community, including a shoreline protection project. “The shoreline protection has only attained 20% completion after 7 years,” Ogisaman said.
Barrister Okwong Otiotio, from Akwa Ibom State, also lent his voice to the rot in NDDC, stressing that his community was not left as uncompleted projects are littered all over the State.
The moderator of the meeting, Felix Akugha added the testaments were worrisome but unfortunately true.
The meeting which drew the attention of concerned Nigerians, civil society organisations and journalists across the country, was supported by the MACARTHUR FOUNDATION.