Thursday, 22 October 2020 04:22

NDDC Acting MD, Pondei shuns Reps over alleged misuse of N139b

Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, yesterday, failed to appear before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts probing alleged misappropriation of N139.3b between 2013 and 2018.

Chairman of the Committee, Wole Oke, who expressed dissatisfaction over the absence of Pondei, however, shifted the hearing to today.

Details of the queries were contained in the 96 page special periodic checks on the commission’s activities and programmes from January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2018.

The report revealed that the 626 contractors engaged for the execution of contracts worth N309b received N61.4b as mobilisation fees in Abia (32 projects), Akwa Ibom (64), Bayelsa (80), Cross River (29), Delta (99), Edo (51), Imo (33), Ondo (50), Rivers (106) and 82 other regional projects.

Some of the queries include, waste of public fund due to collection of mobilisation fees without reporting to project sites by contractors amounting to N61.4b and irregularities in the contract for completion of NDDC headquarters building, Port Harcourt for N16.2b.

The report showed irregularities in the execution of contract awarded to Setraco Nigeria Limited for the construction of Gbaregolor-Gbekbor-Ogulagha road phase 1 for N16.157b, unauthorised revision and variation of contract sum without due process and payment above completion level on the contract for the Kaa-Ataba road and bridges worth N11b.

There were also irregularities in the supply of 3,852 doses of hepatitis B vaccines and 1,570 doses of typhoid vaccines (28) and supply of Lassa fever kits in 23 Lots to NDDC warehouse in Port Harcourt and distribution, transportation and storage worth N2.527b and excessive payment of impress to the NDDC Executive Board members worth N1.358b, among others.

In its recommendations, Auditor General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine, stated that the N61.468b should be recovered from the 626 contractors in line with Financial Regulation No. 3104, which provided that under no circumstances should payments be made for jobs not executed and any amount involved shall be recovered from the contractor and shall be blacklisted and referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution.

On the N100b spent on emergency contracts in 2018, Ayine noted that the commission “concentrated on the award of emergency contracts in the period under review, while most of the planned budget and ongoing projects were not prioritised.”

Also, details of the emergency contracts awarded showed that N58.137b was spent in 2017, N20.867b in 2016, while N1.689b was spent in 2015, adding, “Most of the emergency contracts are executed at an average cost of N500m and above. None of these emergency contracts can be termed as emergency, because there was no evidence of the communities in which they were sited are calling for the projects.”

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