Chief Whip of the Senate and former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu on Monday said the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has not paid any kobo to the contractors who built the roads he facilitated.
Kalu was reacting to the communique written by Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, where he reportedly mentioned ex-governors Emmanuel Uduaghan, James Ibori, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and others to the several contracts allotted by the NDDC.
In a statement signed by Barrister Emeka Nwala of office of the Senate Chief Whip and made available to the media, Kalu said he believes the issues at stake in the NDDC has to do with missing funds and not works done, adding that he is becoming worried over his name being used indiscriminately to sell newspapers without verifications.
According to the Chief Whip, the road projects mentioned by the Honourable Minister are the interventions he facilitated for the communities as a private citizen before he became a Senator.
Kalu revealed his name is mentioned because he used his letter headed paper to write a sympathetic letter to the NDDC in 2016 requesting and pleading with the body to rescue roads in Abia.
He also noted his relationship with Senator Akpabio dates years back and long before he (Kalu) became a governor, adding that he would still request for more road interventions from Akpabio
His words: “I was Governor of Abia State between 1999-2007 and never held any public office until June 11, 2019 when I was sworn in as a Senator. Between 2016- 2018 during my tour to several communities; leaders and welfare unions of most communities pleaded for urgent intervention on some dilapidated roads. I wrote to the NDDC informing the body of the conditions of these roads and the need for their attention since Abia is an NDDC state.
“The NDDC in their consideration which I am very grateful to, 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 also noted that the NDDC that awarded these projects were not any of the interim management in controversy but the fully constituted body of NDDC with its board.
Clarifying further, he said: “The roads I requested for intervention as mentioned by the Honourable Minister were repairs of Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu Road; Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru Ring Road, Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze; Ndi Oji Abam-Atan Road; the Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende Road and Ozu-Amuru-Abam Road.
“The contractors have completed and delivered these roads long time ago except Abam-Atani Road which I learnt from the contractors was slowed down due to rain but still on-going.
“Meanwhile, it would interest Nigerians to know that the contractors who built these roads have not been paid any dime. It has not been easy with the contractors but because it’s a community project they have only but kept hope alive on the NDDC.”
Speaking further, he said: “I am so much concerned about roads because I understand the economic importance of good roads, that’s why I built several roads when I was governor. Even as a Senator, it would interest you to know that my major constituency projects are road constructions, reconstructions and rehabilitations. We have put in plans to finish 19 roads in Abia North before the end of 2021.
“As a community leader, I do not intend to stop my interventions on roads in NDDC states because all the states need good roads. Good roads help to drive the economy. Therefore, I believe the NDDC forensic audit should focus on the missing funds and not works done. They should focus on paying contractors that delivered their jobs and not using my name indiscriminately to sell newspapers.
“The Honourable Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio is my good old friend. We have been friends even before I became a governor. I hope he doesn’t 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 areas of good roads.”