What Wike Discussed With Onochie, NDDC Board Members
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has met with the new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) led by its chairperson, Lauretta Onochie.
Naija News reports that the governor met with the NDDC board members on Friday at the Government House in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Welcoming the NDDC board members who paid him a courtesy visit to the state, Governor Wike advised the Onochie-led board to work for the development of the Niger Delta region.
The governor also urged the new board to embark on projects that will serve as economic corridors to ease interstate movements and promotion of socioeconomic integration within the region.
He also stated that projects should not be awarded to quacks or political contractors, but to competent ones who will stick to delivering quality and enduring projects.
The governor said it is shameful to see the unproductive model NDDC had operated, serving as a mere cash cow to politicians and spending about N10 billion in a futile attempt to rig the 2019 elections in Rivers state.
Wike said: “I read what you said that things will be done differently. I want to believe that you’re sincere. Sometimes, I feel ashamed of where I come from. We talk about underdevelopment but look at the amount of money that has passed through NDDC, then look at the projects on the ground.
“There are what we call regional development projects that can link up two states, those are the kind of things NDDC should go for and give to competent contractors. Leave these political contractors. Leave all these portfolio contractors. Leave them alone. You have come to my state and you have seen what I have done.
“If I didn’t use Julius Berger and had used these political contractors, you won’t have seen anything here. Of course, you know how expensive Julius Berger is. From 2019 till now, we have done 12 Flyovers by Julius Berger. You know how much we are talking about and you can replicate that. Even though they are expensive, you’ll see the value.”
“NDDC has become a cash cow for politicians. Look, part of the money NDDC lost in this state just to win the election here. N10 billion wasted. N10 billion you could have used to construct a mega project in the State.”
Development Master Plan
Wike also faulted the commission for awarding projects in states including Rivers without recuse to the existing development master plan.
The governor said failure to follow the existing plan would lead to duplication of projects which had contributed to the corruption in the commission.
He noted how NDDC fraudulently claimed to have reconstructed the Chokocho- Igwuruta road and signed off the money when in actual fact, the road was reconstructed and delivered by his administration.
Wike also demanded that NDDC pay up its partnership and contractual obligation of N2.5 billion, which is half of the N5 billion mutually agreed between it and the Rivers State government for the reconstruction of the dualized Eastern By-pass Road leading to NDDC Headquarters.
The governor said NDDC had entered into a similar agreement for the construction of the Mother and Child Hospital, collected the money paid by the Rivers State government, and refused to pay up theirs.
He said his administration eventually jettisoned the agreement and footed the entire bill and completed the construction of the hospital.
Essence of Visit
In her address, Onochie said the board came to visit the governor to formally introduced themselves to him as the governor of their landlord state.
Onochie noted the remarkable quality of infrastructure delivered by the administration of Governor Wike that has transformed the entire landscape of Rivers State.
She said they came to ask for guidance and seek his advice on how best the new board could break away from the provision of poor services and projects and replicate his quality project-delivering mantra across the region.
She said: “We are here to ask for your guidance. You have said and known, and you have spoken about the poor services that NDDC has been known for. Trillions of Naira have been pumped into this commission and we have little or nothing to show for it. We are here now, very determined to do things differently.”