Oil host communities in Ukwa West Local Government of Abia State have accused Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Abia State Oil Development Commission (ASOPADEC) of abandoning several projects in the area.
They explained that the area has not benefited meaningfully from NDDC and ASOPADEC since the two bodies were established by the Federal Government in the case of NDDC and Abia State Government in the case of ASOPADEC.
Onwubiko Dike, a don and president-general, Asa Development Union (ADU), the apex socio-cultural organization of indigenous people of Asa, in Ukwa West Local Government Area in an interview with BusinessDay, observed that the ongoing probe of NDDC activities was long overdue, hence the need to carry it out properly and conscientiously.
This is as he described Abia ASOPADEC, as a conduit pipe, used in siphoning monies meant for the development of oil-producing communities.
A document made available to BusinessDay, by ADU listed some NDDC abandoned projects in Asa that includes; construction of the district Hospital at Bokwe-Asa, construction of Umuaka-Obokwe-Asa internal road, construction of Obokwe-Umuguru internal road, and construction of Ahia Eke-Oza Umuiku road.
Others are the Umuituru Ozar Central School Link road, construction of Umuituru Ozar Central School road (awarded twice and not executed), Umuiku-Mkporobe road, and Orie Obokwe-Umuikukor road.
Also abandoned are Umuokpara/Umuekechi/Omumauzor road, Obingwu/Umuugo/Asa Nnetu road, Obokwe Solar Powered Water Scheme, Umuadienwe Solar Powered Water Scheme, Ukwa West Local Government Area regional water scheme at Umuorgu, Asa Civic Center/Multipurpose Hall at Obehie-Asa, 132/33KV substation at Ikpokwu-Asa, Ugwuati-Ozatta road, and Umudobia-Umuaku road.
They also listed Umudobia-Owaza Housing Estate, Ukanafun (Akwa Ibom) – Azumini-Obehie-Owaza (Abia State) – Etche (Rivers) dual carriage highway, abandoned at the boundary between Ukwa East and Ukwa West LGAs.
Onwubiko explained that their experience with the NDDC, in particular, has not been the best, as lots of projects that are on paper never existed in real life.
“For example, there is a proposal by NDDC to construct a bridge from Ngwaiyiekwe to Umuadienwe, where no river existed.
“They also talked about constructing about 23 township roads at Obehie, but such doesn’t exist.
“We tried to meet with the authorities, but they refused to see us and so when Vice President, Yomi Osinbajo visited Umuahia, the State capital in March 2017, we enumerated our plights, after which he ordered NDDC officials to meet with us.
“They gave us a date and we went there with our traditional rulers, but Nsima Ekere, the then chairman of NDDC, refused to see us, saying that he has visitors from South Korea”.
Onwubiko lamented that the NDDC awarded 17 Post Graduate Scholarships to youths in Abia in 2016, noting that out of that number, no single Asa person, was selected for the scholarship programme meant for them, despite the fact that Ukwa people applied for the scheme, but none was selected.
“The Ukwa West Stadium project is abandoned. It’s been long years of a nightmare”, he said.
Iyk Ajuzieogu, secretary-general, ADU, observed that NDDC projects received less attention in Abia, because of the late confirmation of Nwogu Nwogu, as the state’s representative in the board, in 2018 as well as failure to reconstitute the board, replaced by the Interim Management Committee.
He stated that they would ask for a review of abandoned projects, completion of the projects, and for additional contracts when the board of NDDC is reconstituted with Nwogu at the board.
He observed that most NDDC projects are not supervised, because the project costs are often inflated, leading to abandoned projects in the entire region.
Ajuzieogu stated that the only thing ASOPADEC has done for the Asa people was the award of scholarship to 125 students from the area to study at Abia State University in 2018, but regretted that the agency provided only school fees for the beneficiaries, which amounted to N27 million.