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How Contractors Arrest Niger Delta Development


How Contractors Arrest Niger Delta Development

Permalink 12:56:00 am, by ifeatuagbu, 1416 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, South East News, Niger Delta( SS ) News

*How Contractors Arrest Niger Delta Development

By Ifeatu Agbu

It is bad enough that out of the N4.749 trillion budget estimate of the Federal Government, 72 per cent is going for recurrent expenditure, leaving only 28 per cent to finance development projects. The thought that there could be another bad news for the economy when it comes to implementing the budget is even more depressing. The budget estimates have set out the parameters for another cycle of economic activities that would hopefully drive the engine of growth and development. Unfortunately, the road to success is paved with corruption in high and low places. And that is just the right milieu for dubious contractors to ply their trade and throw spanners in the wheels of progress.

The Nigerian environment seems to be a fertile ground for briefcase contractors who see government contracts as their own share of the national cake. For them, the contractual obligation to deliver the jobs on schedule and according to specifications is hogwash. What these contractors, who are unfortunately many, do is tantamount to arresting the development of the country.

This is one challenge all development agencies in the country should tackle frontally. Indeed, in some cases, it calls for emergency measures. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is already taking steps to check the excesses of contractors who would like to eat their cake without contributing to its baking.

The NDDC Managing Director, Dr. Christian Oboh, has fired a warning shot to erring contractors engaged by the commission. He charged them to either perform or be prosecuted. To those that have achieved 70 per cent in project execution, he ordered: “deliver by the end of March 2012 or face the wroth of the law.” “Those who work, we shall pay, I want you to deliver between now and March, I’m ready to pay you if only you will deliver, you must also be prepared to sign undertaking because if you don’t deliver, the law will come after you” he declared. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt

The marching order from the NDDC boss, only amplifies an earlier Presidential directive. President Goodluck Jonathan had warned that his administration would order law enforcement agencies to apprehend contractors identified as having defaulted after receiving funds to execute NDDC projects. The president’s warning came after he received the reports of the NDDC Presidential Monitoring Committee late last year.

No doubt, the problem of non-performing contractors is a national malaise. However, its effect on the development of the Niger Delta region is more disturbing because if developmental projects in the region are sabotaged, it would have a direct consequence on the wealth of the nation, oil being the live-wire of the economy. Of course, we have to keep in mind that the Federal Government’s 2012 budget is based on 2.48 million barrel per day (MBPD) and this can only be realistic if the peace brought by the amnesty programme is sustained. To maintain and sustain the peace, the gains of the amnesty must be complemented with visible and concrete development of the region. This is where the NDDC comes in. As the most visible executing arm of the central government, it must be seen by all to be making the difference in the Niger Delta.

For government and its agencies to get value for money spent on projects, contractors must be held accountable by both the executive and the legislature. It is not a task for only one arm of government. The lawmakers should be interested in knowing how projects are executed to ensure that they meet the required specifications and that they are completed within the agreed time lines. The era of collecting money and abandoning projects should be over, if we have proper monitoring and oversight by the appropriate authorities.

The President of the Senate, Chief David Mark admitted that the National Assembly had not done enough in its oversight function with respect to the NDDC. He said after the Senate confirmation of a 13-member board for NDDC that the Senate Committee on Niger Delta should share the blame for the failure of the last board of the commission, noting that the committee failed in its oversight responsibilities. In many instances, there is a problem when politicians and government functionaries look the other way while contractors undermine the system. As it is the practice world-wide, governments and their agencies are expected to determine whether those they are giving jobs possess the requisite qualifications, manpower, equipment and monetary resources to successfully execute projects.

What happened in the past with respect to power and road contracts must serve as enduring lessons for those in government. Never again should we allow a situation where the country, according to the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole spent 16 billion dollars on the National Integrated Power Project, there was hardly anything to show for it. Never again should we be content with sulking and counting our losses after spending billions of naira for repairs and maintenance of the nation’s highways and bridges without tangible results. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing some major cities, including the Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)

Nigerians would not want a repeat of the disgusting stories told by the House of Representatives committee which looked into the activities of the Ministry of transport under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. The committee reported that between 1999 and 2009, the ministry, gave contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of 11, 591km roads at a cost of N1.7 trillion – about N87 million per km – with only 24 per cent of the target met, while 64 per cent of the contract value had already been paid.

Today, we are reeling in the pains of high fuel prices in spite of the fact that contracts were awarded for the repair and maintenance of the nation’s refineries in 1998. The French oil giant; Total, was awarded a contract valued at $198 million to repair the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical plant, while another contract of $100 million was awarded to Chrome Oil Services, in conjunction with its Polish partners, to undertake similar work at the Port Harcourt refinery. After spending an amount that was enough to build a brand new refinery with a capacity of at least 100,000 barrels per day, the two refineries are today still producing at less than half of their installed capacities. How scandalous can it get?

Like many other Nigerians, who believe that there should be a stop to this rot, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the Governor of Edo State told President Jonathan to jail all those who got the Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) contracts for the refineries. He said that all those who contributed to the present crisis in the oil sector by refusing to repair the refineries after collecting contract funds must be brought to justice.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other anti-corruption agencies should live up to their duties and bite more than they bark. They should spread their dragnets to rope in not only corrupt politicians but also fraudulent contractors, who have by their actions frustrated the much-needed development in the country. The consequences are far-reaching. It is already taking its toll on all sectors of our national life. In education, for instance, the Nigerian Union of Teachers recently jolted Nigerians when it claimed that 25 per cent of pupils and students in primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions in Ghana are from Nigeria. As if to confirm this, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), lamented recently that there are 71, 000 Nigerian students in Ghana who are paying not less than 155 billion naira as tuition annually, compared with the annual budget of 121 billion naira for the entire Federal University education in Nigeria. ( Continues below..... )

EFCC Operatives

Photo Above: EFCC Operatives

Isn’t it surprising that Nigeria is gradually losing grounds to less endowed African countries? It is certainly a worrisome development that needs to be redressed urgently.The new board of the NDDC led by its chairman, Dr Tarilah Tebepah, should, therefore, remain resolute in its efforts to whip contractors into line. The commission should strengthen its monitoring machinery to ensure that projects executed by its contractors meet international standards. Since this board has a short life-span, it can only leave a worthwhile legacy in the Niger Delta if it completes monumental projects that people will talk about so many years to come.

Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( ifeatuagbu@yahoo.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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Comment from: EDIRIN [Visitor] Email
EDIRINNigerian Government be shame to you all what a mess, am ashame being a nigerian most especially from Delta state. all this ole, ole politicians must be brought to book, you people are all DEVILS.................
01/14/12 @ 03:04
Comment from: Yusuf MuhammedJamiu [Visitor] Email
Yusuf MuhammedJamiuI really hope our leaders begin to realize that, no matter how beutiful a plan appear to be on paper, it will not be be more than an empty dreams if at the end of the day it does not translat to tangible work on the field. Emphasis should be on implementation of the little we have instead of this unneccessary heroic act of trying to kill evryone in Nigeria. These pains we are experiencing today is a result of succesion of failed goverment with inconsistent policies. Slow and steady pace cover more steps than a long jump that will only fracture the already weak bones of our economy.
We shold begin to target near 100% implementation of our budjet. Erring individuals irrespective of thier status should be held accountable for thier actions. Let people see justice & equity and we will all begin to see things fallen back into its place.
God bless Nigeria.
01/14/12 @ 03:38
Comment from: Chris Ilogho [Visitor] Email
Chris IloghoNigeria's case is a pathetic one. While its so easy to point accusing fingers at the Federal Government, we fail to realise that the issue of corruption permeat our entire body politic. From the market woman to the bricklayer, the architect to the sparepart seller. Religious people are not left out, particularly those who call themselves born-agains. We nee an absolute dictatorship to forcibly impose martial laws in order to clean the mess before we talk of democracy and the rule of law. Infact the human right credo is largely responsible for abuse in the justice system as at today. No other magic can do it.The issue of deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector is vital to the settlement of our refineries to start with. If Nigerians can spend hundreds of billions of Naira to send their children to Ghana for higher education annually, why can't they make the marginal sacrifice of a deregulated petrol market for a while? We surely cannot carry on like this.
01/14/12 @ 05:05
Comment from: Osa [Visitor]
OsaContractors don't just abandoned contracts if the ceremoney was not shared amongst HIGH government functionaries. Those who parade themselves as the gods of the nation, or the touch me not. These semi gods are the once making presidents and governors and senators and can break them also. These so called semi gods don't care a damn for the people but themselves. How can a visible contract as repairing a refinery go unfulfiled and no body raised a whisper. How can a contract to repaire and build roads go unfilled and the commissioner did not raised an alarm. How can $16b mean't to fix the electrical grid kept the nation in darkness and no president spoke up. This is the legacy that has kept Nigeria backward far too long. Now that President Jonathan wants to make a difference, when he closed the loop hole for the rich to get richer, the nation without the right information, rose in anger. I can understand the drastic rise in fuel price, and the police corruption on the high ways that makes life more expensive to operate transportation business. The president should have guided against this with a 50% cut in all payment to the do nothing senators and parliamentarians. They are the problems facing the nation by voting such a high allowances and salaries 70% above what their counterpart in a developed nation earns. These are the problems that the nation should protest about, not fuel subsidy that curbs corruption.
01/14/12 @ 09:28
Comment from: emeka akamike [Visitor] Email
01/14/12 @ 15:17
Comment from: Eze Nkama [Visitor]
Eze NkamaThe president should give the anti-graft agencies(EFCC, ICPC etc) free hand to operate and lets watch out whats going to going to look like.
01/14/12 @ 23:24
Comment from: chile [Visitor]
chileNigeria is the only nation in the world where a fisherman labors frantically to make bountiful harvests, only to sell all abroad albeit through unaccountable means,and imports tiny sardines at dollar rates that is hardly affordable by the people. why do our leaders avoid simple statistics to buttress their generous plans to make heaven in hell. Nigerians are really suffering, think about it.
01/15/12 @ 07:04
Comment from: Banwar [Visitor]
BanwarThe time to act positively is what Jonathan administration is about to do,and Nigerians should give him the opportunity to act.
NLC AND TUC Leaders are not been fair to Nigerians They are selfish and have been paid to act wrongly. They are using the high illiteracy among the Youths in Nigeria to their advantage ,which is quite unfortunate.They are not supposed to call for strike , on this trivial issues. The main issues that Nigerians can go on strike is TO call on the Government to make sure that corrupted leaders and contractors are punished and that Our judiciary and anti-corruption agencies should sit up.The Police and Military must clean itsefves to correct the lawlessness and insecurity in the country-ie Goodgovernance and Tansparency .By this the country can move forward.
01/15/12 @ 11:12
Comment from: Rim [Visitor]
RimIts crazy what can happen in countries like Nigeria. You would never see something like this happen in the US.
04/10/12 @ 19:14

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