Former Niger-Delta states Governors, Orji Kalu and Emmanuel Uduaghan on Monday denied any wrongdoing regarding their involvement in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contracts.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, had reportedly mentioned both former Governors as beneficiaries of NDDC contracts.
However, Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 to 2007, said his involvement in NDDC contracting had been based on community interest.
“Between 2016- 2018 during my tour to several communities; leaders and welfare unions of most communities pleaded for urgent intervention on some dilapidated roads,” he said, in a statement signed by one of his aides, Emeka Nwala, “I wrote to the NDDC informing the body of the conditions of these roads and the need for their attention since Abia is an NDDC state.
“The NDDC in their consideration which I am very grateful to awarded the roads to companies that duly tendered for the projects and not myself. Whatever link I have with the projects is because it was considered due to my intervention.”
Meanwhile, former Delta State Governor, Uduaghan, described reports linking him to an NDDC contract as “mischievous” and a “falsehood.”
“In the said publication, it was stated that ‘Uduaghan was linked to the emergency repairs of Close B, Alhaji Estate & Environs, Rumuodomaya, Port Harcourt at a cost of N429m’,” a statement signed by Uduaghan’s spokesman, Monoyo Edon, said.
“We want to state very clearly that the said accusation is FALSE. Dr. Uduaghan has never approached the NDDC for any contract whatsoever. It is even more ridiculous that the said contract is a road inside Port Harcourt town.”
In his statement on Monday, Kalu, who is now the Chief Whip of the Senate, alleged that the NDDC is yet to pay contractors who built the roads he facilitated for the commission.
“The roads I requested for intervention as mentioned by the Honourable Minister were repairs of Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu Road; Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru Ring Road, Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze; Ndi Oji Abam-Atan Road; the Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende road and Ozu-Amuru-Abam Road,” he said.
“The contractors have completed and delivered these roads a long time ago except Abam-Atani road which I learned from the contractors was slowed down due to rain but still ongoing.
“Meanwhile, it would interest Nigerians to know that the contractors who built these roads have not been paid any dime. It has not been easy with the contractors but because it’s a community project they have only but kept hope alive on the NDDC.”
A Troubled Commission
The NDDC is currently undergoing a forensic audit over allegations of financial misappropriation within the agency.
Supervising Minister for the Commission, Akpabio, had appeared before a House of Representatives Committee in July where he said lawmakers were the major beneficiaries of NDDC contracts.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila then challenged Akpabio to provide a list of lawmakers who have benefited from the agency’s contract.
Kalu, on Monday, said the linking of his name to the contracts will not push him to stop his interventions on roads in NDDC states.
“Good roads help to drive the economy,” he said. “Therefore, I believe the NDDC forensic audit should focus on the missing funds and not works done.
“They should focus on paying contractors that delivered their jobs and not using my name indiscriminately to sell newspapers.
“The Honourable Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio is my good old friend. We have been friends even before I became a governor.
“I hope he doesn’t expect me to stop seeking road interventions in our communities.
“It is his civic responsibility to support the communities and I am very confident he will oblige our future requests especially in areas of good roads.”