By Francis Bassey
Recently, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) headed by Obong Nsima Ekere, a great son of Akwa Ibom State, got published in the Nation Newspaper of March , 2017 a list of contracts it wants members of the public to tender for.
The listed contracts which are meant to be executed by the commission in all the nine states that are members of the commission aroused some disquiet and concerns from members of the public, most especially from many people in Akwa Ibom State, as a result of the listing of some roads that the Akwa Ibom State government has either executed or on-going, in the advertisement.
Some of the road projects already executed by the state government and which are included in the NDDC advertised roads are:
(i) Idiaba-Nda Nsit Nung Udoe Road which links Nsit Atai and Ibesikpo Local Government Areas was awarded in 2015 by the Akwa Ibom State government to Cossel Nig. Ltd.
That road project is almost 95% completed and is due for commissioning in May this year but curiously, NDDC has included it among the alleged roads it intends to construct.
Another contentious road, the Ikpe Ikot Nkon-Obotme-Arochukwu Road awarded by the state government to Peculiar Construction Company Limited in 2016 has been included in the same advertisement by the NDDC for fresh construction. Quite curious!
The third road, the Mkpok-Okat Road which construction was awarded by the state government and has since been completed and delivered to the government is again included in the advertisement by the NDDC.
Another curious thing about the advertised projects by NDDC is the fact that about 38 of the projects are described as Roads and bridges construction, without specifying the lengths and other specifications and details about them.
Judging by the observation of a group, The Mandate Eyes, on the observed anomalies in the advertisement, it becomes pertinent to align with the query from the group about the true intentions of the interventionist agency in duplicating roads, which contracts have since been awarded by the state government.
Hear the group: There are some projects that are none existent or too vague to be understood or taken seriously. For example, there is an offer for bidding of roads, leading to the palace of all the four paramount rulers in Uyo Federal Constituency.
One is forced to ask where those roads are meant to begin, especially when more than two or three roads can lead to one palace.
Given this sad situation as regards the said anomalies in the advertised projects, one is tempted to believe that those phoney projects are included in the advertisement so that the monies meant for them may actually be used to line the pockets of those who included them in the advert.
It is the considered position of this newspaper that security agencies should be made to ferret the details of the advertised projects as we strongly believe the projects may also be over-valued so that the excess costs may be stolen outrightly.
Given the fact that 2019 general elections are some 20 months away, allowing such fraudulent contract awards for those bogus projects at a time the anti-corruption war is raising its head in only the direction of the opposition, smacks of double standard.
We strongly recommend that the federal government should immediately step into the matter and ask relevant agencies of government to re-value all the projects that NDDC advertised for construction, with a view to ascertaining the level of fraud padded in those projects.
Anybody in this show of shame should outrightly be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Moreover, the bidding process for the projects should be suspended in the best interest of the tax-payers as the obvious anomalies embedded in the advertised projects may cost the federal government and indigenes of the Niger Delta Developing Commission hundreds of billions of Naira, if such a fraudulent and scandalous exercise is allowed to go through.
The time to act is now!