President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday placed an embargo on the award of new contracts in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) until all ongoing projects are completed.
The President who gave the directive at the inauguration of the new board of NDDC held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, said that both the board and management of the commission would be “clinically watched’’.
He said he would take special interest in the running of the NDDC to ensure the people of the region, as well as Nigerians at large, enjoy the benefit of resources released into the commission.
The president cautioned members of the board against incessant quarrels, which he said characterised the activities of their predecessors before their board was dissolved.
He frowned at the situation where enormous funds were released into the commission but there were no physical development on ground to justify utilising the funds.
“The Niger Delta people feel that the NDDC is not really doing what it is supposed to do over the period.
“There are so many ongoing projects and a body like NDDC should not just go into a voyage of contracts procurement. Ongoing projects must be completed for people to benefit before new ones are awarded.
“There are just too many ongoing projects and we believe that you don’t even have enough manpower to manage the ongoing projects.
“If you aggregate the total amount of money the Federal Government has spent on this agency, it is enormous. But I do not believe that we have something on ground to show very clearly,’’ Jonathan said.
The president called on governors from the region to meet regularly and play their roles of overseeing development in the NDDC.
In a response, chairman of the board, Sen. Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, said members of the board were fully aware of the criticism which have trailed the performances of the commission for a number of years.
He assured that they would do the best they can to change NDDC’s image before the Nigerian people.
“By adopting a fresh approach and forging a new direction and focus, we hope to create a more positive image for the commission,’’ the board chairman said.
Other members of the board are the Managing Director of the commission, Bassey Dan-Abia, Executive Director (Finance and Administration), Dr Itotenaan Ogiri, and Executive Director (Projects), Tuoyo Omatsuli.
Also on the board are Turofade Oyarede, Ephraim Etete, Etim Inyang Jnr, Adah Andeshi and Tom Amioku.
The other members are Samuel Nwogu, Uchegbu Kyrian, Maj.-Gen. Suleiman Said and Abdumalik Mahmud, with three other members yet to be nominated.