… Says list of completed projects will be published before payment
By Emmanuel Obisue
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana, has hinted that priority for payment for job done will be given to contractors who have completed, and handed over projects to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Umana made this vow on Friday while responding to questions from journalists at the end of a two-day top management retreat for the ministry and the NDDC held at the State House Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He lamented that the situation of owing contractors is “very messy”, but that “it is part of what we have to do to correct the mistakes of the past”.
“There is no organisation that handles its finances in a rational manner and implements its budget in a rational manner that is going to award contracts and pile up liabilities to the level and tune we find in the NDDC.
“The truth of the matter is that the available funds today cannot liquidate the liabilities that we have at hand. But having said that, we must also work out some logical and sensible ways of making payments to contractors.
“For example, if a contractor has done a job and he was not mobilized, and he uses his own resources to build a road, and the road has been completed by the NDDC, that should be number one priority for us if we are going to make payments,” Umana explained.
Going forward, Umana promised to publish a list of completed and uncompleted projects of the NDDC for public scrutiny, as part of efforts to usher in a new era of transparency and accountability.
He also expressed the ministry’s determination to prioritize high impact projects at the NDDC to improve living conditions of Niger Delta people, adding that only “projects that are of great importance to the various communities would be embarked upon due to available resources, for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta region”.
“We have to reset and rebuild the institution so that it will not matter who takes over after me. He would have the right processes in place where no matter who comes in, he can then run on structures that would promote good governance.
“We will start this year. By december, I will publish the one for 2022. And then I will hand over the initiative to anybody who takes over from me. That’s the way I see it, it is not whether I have 10 years or five years,” he added.
A communique issued at the end of the retreat, acknowledged among other things, the slow pace of development in the region despite huge investments by various tiers of government, development partners, IOCs and civil society organizations, noting that the outcome of the recently concluded Forensic Audit points to the need for further action.