Date Published: 03/15/11
NIGER DELTA INTEGRITY GROUP (NDIG)
15 Agudama Street Port Harcourt, Rivers State
An Open Letter to President Goodluck Jonathan GCFR, on the neeed to investigate the Managing Director of NDDC Mr. Chibuzor Ogwoha
The NIGER DELTA INTEGRITY GROUP (NDIG) is a group of concerned people interested in the development of the Niger Delta Region, NDR. We have conducted an independent investigation into the series of crises, which have rocked the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. We have severally expressed our dissatisfaction with the rancorous relationship between the Board and Management. In 2000, NDDC was with a mission to “facilitate the rapid, and sustainable development and to establish a region that is economically prosperous socially stable ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful”. Sadly more than 10 years after, the lofty ideals of the Commission have not been achieved.
NDDC Crisis since 2009
On August 6 th, 2009 a new Board was sworn-in, with Chief Chibuzo Ugwoha as Managing Director and AVM Larry Koinyan as Chairman. Since the advent of Chibuzo Ugwoha as Managing Director of NDDC, the Commission has become a tale of frustration, underhand dealings, flouting of Due Process and circumvention of contract awarding procedures. We took particular interest in The Our investigations revealed that the MD has politicized the NDDC to such an extent that even the State office have been brought under his tight control. The result is that State Reps have no degree of freedom to perform their statutory responsibilities. Our investigations revealed the following:
1. Violation Of The Act Establishing NDDC
The MD has consistently flouted and brazenly violated parts of the Act establishing the Commission. Incidents of such violations are legion and deliberate. They range from the award of contracts without due process; non-implementation of the Board’s decisions, undue interference with the statutory functions of State Representatives to creating a Due Process Unit, which is used as an excuse to perpetrate heinous financial crimes in the Commission.
2. Usurpation of The Functions Of The Board
The NDDC Board has statutory functions as stated in Part II (8). These functions are as follows:
The Board shall have power to:- (a ) manage and supervise affairs of the Commission; (b) make rules and regulations for carrying out the functions of the Commission, (c) enter and inspect premises, projects and such places as may be necessary for the purposes of carrying out its functions under this Act; etc.
The Board is made up of credible people with impeccable integrity yet we discovered to our utter dismay that Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha asserted that the Board cannot give him directives and therefore made it impossible for the Board to function. We also found that he administers the NDDC with the circulars from the Federal Government, and this creates the impression that he derives his powers from the Secretary to the Federal Government, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed. We found that the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government kills every viable programme and policy initiatives by the Board and stifles their implementation. This amounts to ridiculing the decisions of the Board. As we speak, there is an Alhaji in Port Harcourt flaunting NDDC Award letters, claiming he is fronting for Alhaji Yayale Ahmed.
Our interaction with some State Reps shows that the MD runs the Commission as though he is a sole proprietor, as he does not work in synergy with the two Executive Directors and the Board. As a manifestation of the crisis, most of MD’s memos that are usually disowned by the Executive Directors, and most of his disagreements with the EDP are cash-related. There is a disconnect between the Board and Management and this has culminated in mutual antagonism, distrust and high wire politics –all these stifle initiative and productivity.
3. Corruption Of The Due Process Unit Of NDDC
The Due Process Unit of NDDC is headed by one Kaltungu who, to the best of our knowledge derives his powers from the SFG. The Head of the Due Process Unit is alleged to have built a “toll gate” where he rakes in billions of Naira farmed out of contractors. More so, the MD has empowered the Due Process Unit to draft contract agreements in contravention of NDDC guidelines and without the support of the Board. Another dimension is the alienation of the core oil producing areas in securing jobs. The conditions for tendering and bidding are so harsh that not many Niger Delta people can meet them. Therefore, NDDC contracts are indirectly meant for people outside the Region. One of the conditions is that contractors will not obtain mobilization and are expected to deliver on the first milestone. This condition was unilaterally introduced by the MD.
A good example in question is Bayelsa State. In 2010, 28 jobs were given to the State to tender, and these are jobs under N250 million. Unfortunately, 19 0ut of the 28 jobs were given out from the Commission without the knowledge of the State Rep. Only 9 jobs were given to Bayelsa State. The scenario is not different in other States. The implication is that the State Reps have no say in the award of contracts and distribution of facilities in their respective States. Mr. Chibuzor Ogwoha has made nonsense of the concept of representation in the Commission.
4. Militarization Of The Commission
The Managing Director of the Commission has deployed countless men of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) to all the floors of the NDDC Secretariat. Recognizing the brutality of the JTF and their sundry atrocities in the Region, Board protested that it was wrong for the Chibuzor Uguoha to militarize the Commission, as a strategy of covering up for his incapacity to manage the Commission. In an attempt to justify this anti-people act, the MD lied at a Board meeting that the deployment of JTF to the Secretariat was approved by the National Security Adviser – General Owoye Azazi rtd. We believe that NDDC was established for the people but the deployment of the JTF has created a climate of intense fear and insecurity in both workers of the Commission and visitors. NDDC is a development, interventionist agency not a military cantonment. Anytime some aggrieved Niger Delta Youths come protesting, they are promptly arrested and thrown into detention. Actions of this nature portray the Commission in bad light.
The Group discovered that the MD places himself above the Board and treat Board decisions with utmost disdain. For example, since 2010, the Board approved that vehicles should be bought for Special Assistants of State Representatives and Hilux was recommended. The vehicles have since been bought numbered but the MD refuses to give them out. The result is that State offices are not furnished even though such decisions are reached by the Board.
5. Award Of Contracts Without Due Process
Whereas the Board has raised alarm that the award did not follow due process and in breach of the Public Procurement Act, the beneficiaries/consultants were found to close allies of the MD while one of them is the direct brother of the Executive Director, Projects. Where is the Due Process Bureau when all these fraudulent activities are perpetrated?
There are also the Niger Delta Technical Aid Corp, NTAC Projects, which are capacity building programmes for graduates that have been grossly mismanaged. The integral part of NTAC Projects is computer Training Programmes. Till date the Commission is indebted to NTAC because the monies for defraying the fees are lodged in private accounts to yield interest for the account holders. This malpractice is perpetuated by the conspiracy of the MD and the Special Adviser to the MD on Finance – Aham - who has constituted himself to be a toll gate in the Commission.
6. The MD, his 13 aides and Squandermania.
The MD gives preferential treatment to Rivers State (Vide 2011 budget on monies earmarked to project No. 96 in Rivers State and project No. 46 in Bayelsa State. We discovered that the staff of NDDC is ill-motivated but the MD alone has 13 aides – each with the paraphernalia of high office. He has undermined the EDF&A by transferring the Commission’s money to a bank where he would reap supernormal interest. (Vide the MDs interview of Saturday ThisDay Newspaper of March 5, 2011 pages 48 -49). In our view, trading with NDDC is a violation of the Act.
At the inauguration of the new Board, Mr. President said unequivocally” Government needs a technocrat as the Managing Director in NDDC as to inject seriousness, focus and professionalism in handling of the affairs of the commission, to effectively position it as an intermediary organ to follow up the Presidential vision” We are wondering why Mr. Ugwoha has forgotten this charge too soon. Our investigations have so far revealed that:
§ That NDDC is being mismanaged by the MD and his cabal, with the connivance of the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government.
§ That the MD runs the Commission like a private estate to the exclusion of the Board; hence Board decisions are not implemented.
§ That contract awards by the Commission do not follow Due Process and in flagrant breach of the Public Procurement Act. Another dimension is that the conditions for tendering are deliberately made harsh to exclude contractor from the Niger Delta Region.
§ That although, NDDC was established to improve the standard of living of the Niger Delta people, the benefits accruing from the Commission are being captured by people from outside the Region. If it were not so, how would one explain Kaltungu man heading the all important Due Process Unit.
§ That the MD is high-handed for withholding the allowances of Board members contrary to the extant Federal Government circular issues by the National Salaries and Wages Commission. To attest to his high-handedness, he claimed in a circular dated 18/02/2011 that the distribution of transformers to State offices is the exclusive prerogative of management. On this basis, there is a disconnect between the State Representatives and Management. This chasm is deliberately created to mystify the shady financial deals of the MD.
In the light of the above, we pray Your Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to urgently address the following:
§ That Government should immediately set up a panel to investigate Managing Director Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha.
§ That the Niger Delta Integrity Group vehemently moves for the immediate suspension of the MD pending the outcome of the investigation.
§ The NDIG hereby demand that the financial position of the NDDC be declared and made public immediately including the reasons why he is trading with the people’s money
§ That State Representatives should be allowed to perform their statutory functions unfettered by any suffocating bureaucracy. This should include the immediate disbursement and payment of NTAC monies.
§ That Mr. Kaltungu is removed from the Due Process Unit to reorganize the Unit to reflect the mission of NDDC.
§ That the Group is able, ready and willing to resort to litigation in the event of government’s inability to carry out these prayers without delay.
This Group is willing to litigate on the above mentioned matter, and we believe that Your Excellency, will use his good offices to treat this matter expeditiously.
Idumange John Bayelsa State Eghosa Osaro Edo State
Nwokedi Nworisara: Abia State Maxwell Iboroma: Rivers State
Nyong Okonedo: Akwa Ibom State
For and On behalf of the Niger Delta Integrity Group