Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Ibim Semenitari, acting NDDC boss

Ibim Semenitari, acting NDDC boss

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, said it would soon begin to expose and punish contractors who default in the execution of its projects. The step, the Commission stated, would checkmate fraudulent activities of contractors.

The measures were outlined by the Commission’s acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, at a meeting with the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, at his residence in Owerri on Saturday.

Briefing the governor on her findings after a two-day inspection of projects in Imo state, Semenitari expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of some projects while revealing that NDDC would henceforth upload its list of projects on its website.

Semenitari, who assured Okorocha that NDDC would deliver quality projects in Imo, said the online listing would put in the public domain details of contracts and contractors. “I have directed that we immediately upload to the NDDC website the list of projects that we have. We will state the status as it is in our books, so that communities can tell us if that status report is correct,” she said.

“We will also state the name of the contractor. So, we will like to advise our contractors in all the nine states covered by the NDDC to know that the searchlight is going to beam on them from all quarters, not just from the commission. The commission will be there, the state governors will be there and the communities will be there and the people of Nigeria will be there.”

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The NDDC boss said that the commission’s Project Monitoring and Supervision directorate would carry out an audit of the projects executed in Imo state, assuring the governor that anyone found to be involved in short-changing the people of the state, whether contractor or NDDC staff would not go free.

She lamented that the contractor handling the N6 billion Isinweke Road, connecting Imo and Abia states abandoned the project without any explanation. “We cannot claim to be an interventionist agency and not insist that corruption is wiped out. President Buhari has directed that we should do the right thing.”

Semenitari solicited the assistance of Okorocha, urging him, to call the defaulting contractors to order. “We will like you to work with us because some of these contractors are your sons. So we would like you to help us to rein them in. We need to get them to understand that we are in a new era, a new wind of change. They should be made to understand that they can no longer be allowed to take the money of our people and not deliver on projects,” she said.

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“One of the things that I will ask you to discuss when you meet with your brother governors, especially as the leader of the All Progressives Congress Governors Forum, and as Owelle Ndigbo, is to tell them that whenever we are able to show that a contractor is not performing, on any job, then whether at the state level, federal or local government level, such a contractor should be blacklisted from doing business or any other work in any other part of this country. That is the only way we can sanitize the system. Contractors that default on contracts should not be allowed to continue to get jobs.”

Semenitari said she was disturbed by the practice of some contractors who put up sign boards, claiming to be working for NDDC. She explained that before people embark on NDDC projects, the site must be properly handed over to them. “Contractors cannot just mobilize to site once they have bided for jobs, there is a process and when they put up the sign posts and don’t do any work, the commission continues to get a bad image,” she said.

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In his remarks, Okorocha said that the NDDC was at a new beginning and, therefore, needed time to clean up the system. He said, however, that he expected the new chief executive officer to get the contractors to live up to expectations, especially those working on projects in Imo State.

According to the governor, “it is obvious that NDDC has paid so much money to contractors who have not performed.”

He urged the new management to do its best to ensure the completion of the agency’s projects in IMO state.