Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has accused the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of swindling the state of N353 million.
Wike, who threatened to sue NDDC, said the commission that was established to help the Niger Delta grow, had been hijacked by prominent Southsouth politicians who siphon development funds for the election.
He disclosed this yesterday when the acting managing director of NDDC, Professor Nelson Braimbaifa, visited him at the Brick House, Port Harcourt.
The governor regretted that years after the Rivers government paid N353 million as its counterpart fund to the NDDC for the construction of Mother and Child Hospital in Port Harcourt, the commission had refused to execute the project or reimburse the state, even after his administration had taken over the project.
“NDDC has become a political institution where the money is set aside for politics. Mention one mega project by the NDDC anywhere in Rivers State. In the only megaproject, the Mother and Child Hospital, which was to be a joint project, the NDDC duped the Rivers government. We paid our counterpart fund and NDDC paid nothing. We have taken over the project, yet the NDDC has refused to refund our money. If the NDDC fails to refund our counterpart fund in seven days, we will drag the commission to court,” he said.
According to him, one of the reasons NDDC has woefully failed to make any significant impact in Niger Delta communities was because the states were never involved in the siting and design of projects.
“They have refused to constitute the governors’ board since 2015 because the majority of the Southsouth states are controlled by the PDP. Nineteen years after establishment, the NDDC is still constructing its headquarters.”
All the participating states have no mega projects. The NDDC was designed to help the Niger Delta grow, but that is not the situation on the ground. Can we justify the funds that have passed through the NDDC?” he lamented.
Wike advised the NDDC management to go back to the drawing board to fashion out ways to site mega projects. He said the current piecemeal projects would not develop the region.
Briambaifa used the occasion to solicit the revival of the NDDC Governors Advisory Committee to assist the commission carry out its development projects in the region.
He explained that the commission had undertaken 1,793 projects, out of which 800 had been completed, 540 yet to be completed, and 103 newly-awarded.