Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Kalu, has said that the ongoing audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission should focus on missing funds rather than projects awarded and completed by contractors.
Kalu, who was Abia governor from 1999 to 2007, stated this in a statement issued by his aide, Emeka Nwala, in Umuahia on Monday.
The lawmaker was reportedly responding to a statement credited to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, who allegedly mentioned Kalu and some ex-governors, among others, as beneficiaries of several contracts allotted by the NDDC.
Kalu stated that his only link with the road rehabilitated in his constituency by NDDC, was that he used his letter-head to appeal for the commission’s intervention in the repair of dilapidated roads in the area.
The Senator said however, that NDDC had not paid a dime to the contractors who rehabilitated the roads facilitated by him.
He said: “I believe the NDDC forensic audit should focus on the missing funds and not works done.
“It will interest Nigerians to know that the contractors, who rehabilitated these roads, have not been paid a dime.
“They should focus on paying contractors that delivered their jobs and not using my name indiscriminately to sell newspapers.”
Kalu said that the road projects mentioned by Akpabio, are the interventions he facilitated for the communities as a private citizen before he became a senator.
He stated that he used his letter-head to write a pathetic letter to NDDC in 2016, “requesting and pleading with the body to rescue roads in Abia,” hence his name was mentioned by the minister.
He listed the rehabilitated roads to include Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu Road, Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru Ring Road, Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze, Ndi Oji Abam-Atan Road, Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende Road and Ozu-Amuru-Abam Road.
Kalu further stated: “I was governor between 1999 and 2007, and never held any public office until June 11, 2019, when I was sworn in as a senator.
“Between 2016 and 2018, during my tour of several communities, leaders and welfare unions of most communities, pleaded for urgent intervention on some dilapidated roads in their areas.
“I wrote to NDDC informing the body of the condition of these roads and the need for their attention since Abia is an NDDC state.
“The NDDC, in its consideration, which I am very grateful for, awarded the roads to companies that duly tendered for the projects and not myself.
“Whatever link I have with the projects is because it was considered due to my intervention.”
The senate chief whip, further stated that the contract was awarded by the constituted body of NDDC, with its board and not the current interim management under probe.
He said” The contractors have completed and delivered these roads a long time ago, except Abam-Atani Road, which I learnt was slowed down due to rain but still ongoing.
“It has not been easy with the contractors, but because it is a community project, they have only but kept hope alive on the NDDC.”
He said that he was interested in getting the roads fixed because of the importance of good roads to smooth movement of goods and services in the economy.
He said: “That is why I built several roads when I was governor. Even as a senator, my major constituency projects are road construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation.”
Kalu, representing Abia North Senatorial District, stated that plans were underway to finish 19 roads in the area before the end of 2021, adding that good roads helped to drive the economy.
He, however, promised not to stop his interventions on roads in NDDC states because all the states needed good roads.
He said: “I hope he (Akpabio) does not expect me to stop seeking for road interventions in our communities.
“It is his civic responsibility to support the communities, and I am very confident he will oblige our future requests, especially in the area of good roads.”