• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Contractors to execute 1,006 projects as NDDC gets N1.9trn budget approval

NDDC presents N1.9trn 2024 budget to House of Reps, pledges accelerated development

The indigenous contractors who are always at loggerheads with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have agreed terms for the execution of the 1,006 projects across nine oil-producing States in the Country with N1.9trn 2024 budget recently approved by the Senate.

This is as the contractors commend the Senate for the speedy passage of N1.9 billion 2024 NDDC budget, saying there seems to be a huge difference in the way awards and payments for contracts are being handled these days to bring peace and confidence in the Commission.

The body, Niger Delta Indigenous Contractors Association (NDICA), said new developments in the oil region indicated that there would be no more need for war because the present NDDC management led by Samuel Ogbuku seemed to have understood what the responsibility of the intervention agency should be.

BusinessDay recalls that in the past, no day went past without one contractor and youth group besieging the gates of the Commission to express one acrimony of the other. Contractors always said they were either owed after years of project completion or their payments were cut by half by some middlemen helping to get the payments out.

They however said that if a contractor delivered a project, they get paid as and when due.

The contractors in a press statement in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on June 18, 2024, signed by their Chairman, Chukwuemeka Amirieze, and the Secretary-General, Sodin Akiagba, lauded the National Assembly for speedy passage of NDDC N1.9 trillion 2024 budget proposal into law.

In terms of project supervision, the NDICA said the new management was on top of the game to the extent that “if you have not executed your project, you will not be paid.”

The group also expressed confidence in Ogbuku-led management as well as the Board of the Commission led by Chiedu Ebie. They also called for prompt release and remission of their 3% allocation by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the region, as their counterpart funds for the development of the oil-producing region.

The contractors, who said they did not have the correct figures of the amounts owed by the IOCs said, “We are aware that the Commission needs lots of funds to clear outstanding debts and fast-track construction works in the region.”

They also said prompt release of the funds would facilitate settlement of outstanding debts to contractors.

NDICA however pleaded with all funding and developmental partners for timely release of their financial contributions for uninterrupted and hitch-free realization of the noble objectives of the NDDC’s people-oriented projects.

They named the funding partners as the oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region, the ecological fund managers, and the statutory allocation from the Federal Government to the NDDC.

The contractors equally thanked the Senate Committee on NDDC for its role in the swift passing of the appropriation bill, noting that “it is a proof that the Nigerian Senate is concerned about the developmental challenges of the Niger Delta region.

Amirieze and Akiagba however commended Ogbuku-led team for the laudable initiatives, programmes, projects, actions, and achievements recorded so far towards addressing critical developmental needs of the people of the Niger Delta.

On fears of the Commission being able to manage whopping N1.9 trillion in one budget cycle, the NDICA said since the coming on board of Ogbuku and his team, that they could see capacity.

“We can see energy, we can see commitment in meeting the expectations of the people. We have absolute trust that they will be able to execute these projects bearing in mind they are dealing with several States and Communities. The State offices and relevant departments of the Commission have shown capacity to deliver especially as each unit head is mandated to work in the field three days in a week”, they added.

As a result of transparency adoption and strict work ethics, the achievements of Ogbuku-led administration have become very remarkable and significant.

The NDICA mentioned key strides of the new management such as youth empowerment initiative, the solar light projects to enhance security architecture, road projects, and other numerous rural intervention projects are landmark achievements of the Ogbuku led administration for which the contractors said they were very grateful.

The contractors applauded Ogbuku for his commitment to gradually pay up the contract debts by former NDDC board.

The NDICA expressed appreciation to the CEO’s efforts and vowed to support him by ensuring they deployed best practices in contract delivery to promote his administration.

NDICA leaders said they were optimistic that the budget would address the critical long standing developmental challenges that have traumatised the Niger Delta region over years. They however called for the cooperation of every member state in the region.