A critical examination of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an agency established to facilitate development of the Niger Delta, shows a huge misappropriation of funds. The act is embedded and manifests prominently in contract awards, which has shown how the Commission breaches procurement laws, awards contracts to fake, unqualified companies, for community development. A development that has since been uncovered by the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General of the Federation. And, a visit to communities across Niger Delta exposes one to a plethora of abandoned and poorly executed projects.
This entrenched corruption in NDDC cuts across the Niger-Delta States it executes projects. For instance, MAWA Foundation in a recent investigation that covers Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta, Cross –Rivers, and Delta, found obvious corruption in the contracts awarded by NDDC across the six states.
Corroborating MAWA Foundation findings, the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General of the Federation, shows the Commission did not pay contractors hired to undertake jobs the agreed sum. The Audit uncovered how NDDC underpaid contractors and could not account for monies under its operation, an action that seems a fortification of corruption in the way the Commission conducts its activities.
For instance, NDDC awarded the construction of Nonwa-Bunutai-Afam Ukwu –Afam NTA Road to Jocarl Investment Limited at the sum of N1, 027,724,775.00 and paid N916, 755,934.83 as the contract fee, leaving the sum of N144, 257,640.00 unaccounted, a mischief that was spotted by the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General.
This is even as documents obtained from Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) by MAWA Foundation in a response to FOI request regarding the Jocarl Investment Limited status, show the company does not deal in civil engineering and construction and does not qualify to undertake such a job. An indication that shows NDDC may have compromised procurement standards in the selection of a suitable company for a contract award.
In the same trend, NDDC, on February 22, 2011, awarded the construction of West End Avenue, off Rumuoba Siolu Street Psychiatric Hospital Road at Rumuigbo community in Obio Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, to Etworx Nigeria Limited, at the sum of N235, 520,000.00 while the commission paid N216, 463,635.50 as the contract fee, and left the sum of N79, 126,100.00 uncounted, an action the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General has since uncovered.
In a similar narrative, the Commission on May 27, 2010, awarded the construction of Chief Umeh Street off Ada George Road in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital to Messrs Silver Brook Investment Limited at the sum of N98, 730,030.00 and paid N93, 793,528.00 leaving N4,936,502 unaccounted, a seeming corruption that has since been exposed by the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General. And, this is even as a visit to the project site by MAWA officials shows the project was poorly executed.
In a related development, NDDC in what appears an abuse of procurement process awarded the construction of Effiom Bassey Layout in Calabar, the Cross Rivers capital to Alphadot Global Prospect Limited, a company that has plant and equipment management as its principal activities, documents obtained from the CAC show. Despite awarding the contract to an unqualified company, in the deal, NDCC gave the contract at the sum of N249, 993,432.50 and paid N224, 161,699.26 as the contract fee, leaving N114, 957,866.75 uncounted, a shady deal that was exposed by the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General.
Perfecting a shady deal, NDDC awarded a contract for the construction of drainages to Dewfirstplus Limited, a website design, and software development company. The project that is located at Kings Streets in Calabar South area of Cross Rivers state was awarded at the sum of N150, 000,000.00 and the Commission paid N135, 046,974.75 as the contract fee, leaving N30, 537,219.75 uncounted, a graft the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General uncovered.
Striking another deal, NDDC on December 10, 2004, awarded the construction of Odukpani – Akim Road in the Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross Rivers to Messrs Zenith Nigeria Limited at the price of N1, 002,278,079.00 and paid N190, 250,072.85 as the contract fee, leaving N39, 908,361.00 unaccounted, an action that was uncovered by the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General.
In an entrenched culture of corruption, the NDDC in what appears a common practice in the violation of procurement laws awarded billion naira road construction to an unqualified company in Bayelsa State. Perfecting the deal, the commission awarded the construction of Odi-Trofani Road (Phase 1 and Phase 2) located in the Sagbama Local Government Area of the Bayelsa at the sum of N5, 452,063,616.00 to Elka Nigeria Limited and paid N5,415, 250,582.84 as the contract fee, leaving N49,843,780.41 unaccounted, 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General shows. This is even as documents obtained from the CAC regarding the company status, show it has no role linking it to civil engineering, let alone road construction.
And worst still, MAWA’s visit to the project site shows it was poorly executed with many portions of the road having potholes that put the lives of its user at risk.
However, the Commission in a compromised deal awarded a million naira project to a fake company that does not exist. And under the deal, NDDC on August 10, 2010, awarded road rehabilitation at Elebele community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State to Messrs Beks Kmse Nigeria Limited at the sum of N221, 295,900.00. Worse still, documents obtained from the CAC in response to FOI request regarding the status of Beks Kmse, show the company is fake and does not exist.
In another action that appears an abuse of procurement law, NDDC awarded the installation of Solar Street light at Uquo Community at Esit Eket Local Government Area of Akwa-Ibom State to Danas Contracting Supplies Limited, an information service company. Documents obtained from the CAC in response to FOI’s request regarding the status of Danas Company show it has information service as a principal business. An indication that shows NDDC may have compromised in awarding solar light installation to a company that lacks the expertise to carry out such a project. And this further shows the Commission may have compromised in standard procurement practice in the selection of a suitably qualified company for such a job that requires technical capacity. An action that can only be allowed under a circumstance of corruption and vested interest.
In another shady deal, NDDC awarded the construction of Odoro Enin-Ikot Usekong-Uqua – Isiedoho road located at Eket-Esit area of Akwa Ibom State to Messrs MPHASIS Limited, a company that is fake and does not exist. Using a fake company, NDDC gave the job at the sum of N1, 911,451,549 and paid N1, 665,602,771 as contract fee leaving N310,619,463 unaccounted, an underpayment the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General has since uncovered. In a response to FOI request demanding the status of Messrs MPHASIS Limited, a company that was awarded the contract, CAC says it has no record of the company, an indication that shows it is fake and does not exist.
Furthermore, the Commission in another act that points to a perfection of corruption, awarded the construction of Ogumwenyin-Aruogba link at Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State to Messrs Heavenly Merchant Company Limited, a company that is fake and does not exist. Under the deal, the Commission gave the job at the sum of N147,900,000 and paid N144,053,280, leaving N24,349,400 unaccounted, a deal the 2008-2018 NDDC audit carried out by the Auditor-General has since pointed out.
Confirming the non-existence of the company, in a response to FOI’s request regarding the status of Messrs Heavenly Merchant Company Limited, CAC says it has no record of the company. An indication that shows it is fake and does not exist. This is even as a visit by MAWA officials to the project site shows it has since been abandoned.
In summary, MAWA Foundation field visits to project sites and an in-depth examination of the NDDC contracts awarded across communities in Niger-Delta, show a famous corruption. And some of the common features in the ways the Commission perfects the graft are:
(a) Many of the contracts awarded by NDDC, were given to either fake or unqualified companies
(b) Contractors are not paid the contract sum as they appear on the contract documents, NDDC underpays contractors and monies uncounted
(c) Many of the projects awarded by NDDC across the Niger-Delta communities are abandoned, while the few ones that got completed were poorly executed
(d) Community members who are the direct beneficiaries of the project are not consulted before a project is sited in their area, and that leads to non-community ownership of projects
(e) Community residents say they are been shortchanged by NDDC with many of them accusing the Commission of mismanaging monies meant for rural development.