Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike on Thursday narrated to the House of Representatives how the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) allegedly duped Rivers State Government of N400Million over a failed partnership to develop the Mother and Child hospital in Port Harcourt.
Wike, addressing visiting House Committee on NDDC, led by Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo at the Government House, Port Harcourt also lamented that Governor’s of NDDC mandate states were being undermined in affairs of the commission in defiance of their statutory recognition under the Advisory Council of the NDDC.
Wike recounted to the lawmakers, “NDDC fraudulently duped us over the Mother and Child hospital. They had an agreement with the State government to build a regional hospital called Mother and Child hospital. They agreed that it will be N1.7 Billion Naira.
“State government was to bring N800million, NDDC N900 million. The state government at the time paid their N800million. NDDC mobilised the contractor with N400 million of the N800 million we brought, then abandoned the contract, and the contractor left the site.
“And when we came on board, we said okay, we don’t want to partner with you again, give us back our N400 million, it became a problem. Politics came in. “
On how NDDC mandate states governors were being sidelined, Wike noted that because the federal ruling party dictates what happens in NDDC, the commission now acts as a state on itself, refusing interface with the Governors to strategically develop the Niger Delta.
He said since the inauguration of the NDDC Advisory Council last year, the present federal government has ensured that the governors remain sidelined in the affairs of the commission.
“Even when we are inaugurated, we were not involved in anything that happens in NDDC. Which is most unfortunate. NDDC is like a state on its own, not working with the State governments. And it’s so because the states of NDDC are controlled by the opposition party, therefore no need to consult with them.”
To ensure NDDC does not embark on indiscriminate execution of projects that often distort the states’ developmental agenda, the Rivers government recently obtained a court order prohibiting the commission from carrying out projects without the consent of the state government, reiterating his vow to drag the commission to court for contempt if NDDC fails to respect the said court order.
Wike urged the National Assembly to be resolute in its oversight function by ensuring that NDDC stops frittering resources meant for the development of the region on building roads in Army barracks, police stations, and spending Billions of Naira to allegedly ensure he did not win reelection.
Chairman of the House Committee, Tunji- Ojo told Wike that, “People outside Niger Delta believe development might not be possible in the region. The projects we have in Rivers state shows that Niger Delta can actually work.
“We are here in line with section 88 of the constitution which empowers us to oversight agencies that we appropriate funds to ensure accountability, transparency, and the effective utilisation of public funds for the people of Nigeria.
“I assure you that under the watchful eyes of this committee, we will ensure that NDDC works in synergy with critical stakeholders of the region.”