It was a can of worms that was let open on Thursday, during the investigative public hearing by the Senate Ad-hoc committee on investigation of the alleged financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This was as the Director of the project exposed some strange transactions being executed at the NDDC prior to the Presidential appointment of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) led by Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei.
Cairo said the Expanded Interim Management Committee inherited a total number of 12,384 projects at inception, made up of 9,840 regular/conventional projects and 2,544 emergency projects.
Of the 9,840 regular projects, 2,669 were on-going, 1,783 had not started, 342 were stalled, 30 had been taken over by other agencies, 49 have been terminated while 4,325 were purportedly completed.
Of these 2,544 emergency projects, a total of 1,502 were completed; 340 were on-going while 702 had not started, he stated.
Ojougboh said the EIMC carried out a verification exercise in it and following the conclusion of the Contract Verification exercise in the 9 Niger Delta States, the Expanded IMC is re-evaluating all IPCs by visiting the project sites to ascertain the extent, nature and quality of work done.
He said for the first time in the Commission’s history, we have acquired modern equipment to test the integrity of road and other civil works done by contractors.
This has helped to ensure the integrity of projects being paid for and reduced bogus claims for humongous sums by contractors. More than 50 per cent of the projects have been found to be dubious.
This emergency road repairs project was meant to be a single contract valued at less than N750 million.
One of the National Assembly Committee on NDDC Chairmen coerced the then management to break it into four lots. This pushed the cost of the project to N2,931,655,712.69 (four times the project value, Cairo alleged.
The contracts were awarded on April 16, 2019, to four companies nominated or linked to him.
The Senate committee interrogated the rationale behind some expenditures it considered curious especially the amount involved in the expenditure from the document presented to the Senate by the (NDDC).
Chairman of the committee Senator Adebunmi Adetunmbi told the NDDC that its mission was to interrogate its expenditure within the period of six months. He then reeled out figures of the expenditure between October and May 31 by the Commission.
Some of the figures include: Community outreach N1.3bn;
Condolences N122.9m, consultancy N83.8m, COVID-19, N3.14bn
Duty Tour Allowances (DTA) N486m, (out of which IMC led by Pondeip spent N302m) and Lassa fever intervention at the cost of N1.9bn.
Senator Adetunmbi also listed interventions on security for the sum of N475m and expenditure on the staffing at N20.9bn and N248m to stakeholders.
Justifying the expenditure, the Chairman said the management made COVID-19 interventions to various groups which got various sums of money.
According to him, the intervention of N248 to security was to its high command to provide Personal Protective Equipment and other safety items against COVID-19 while various groups like the youth group, women group and Association of people with disabilities each got N5million as part of the NDDC intervention.
Explaining the huge expenditure on the staffers, the Acting Managing director said the Commission intervened in the lives of all workers on its nominal roll with the highest getting N10m while the least got N600,000 each.