President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday inaugurate the N16 billion newly-completed office complex of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, which work started in 1996.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, announced this while briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Mr Akpabio said that the building which started in 1996 witnessed slow pace of work until 2019 when President Buhari committed to its completion.
“The road to completion of the over N16 billion NDDC office edifice started when I visited the building in 2019 and learnt that the project commenced 25 years ago in 1996.
“After the visit, I briefed President Buhari and told him that we can make the building the focal achievement in his effort to reposition NDDC.
“Immediately, President Buhari graciously approved and work commenced on the building as part of his commitment and passion to the people of Niger Delta.
“The completion and inauguration of the building on Thursday shows that government can work only if it has the right determination and focus,” he said.
Mr Akpabio said that although the building had been completed he would still meet with the Federal Executive Council to approve contract for the furnishing of the entire office space.
He berated past administration and NDDC boards who rather than focus on completion of the office building preferred to pay N300 million yearly to rent its old office.
He said that for over 15 years that NDDC’s old office was not connected to the National Grid (public electricity) but preferred to buy diesel to power its generators.
“Rather than connect the old NDDC building to the national grid, some people preferred to award contracts for supply of diesel.
“We discovered that all that was needed to connect the building to the national grid was a mere N16 million.
“In the finance department alone, you need 26 signatures to pay a single contractor, and sometimes it took five to six years for contractors to get their money.
“We cannot allow such to continue, and so, we are making sure that money coming into NDDC must be used to develop the Niger Delta as President Buhari directed,” he added.
The minister pointed out that after the inauguration the ministry, National Assembly and other stakeholders would meet to re-jig the operations of the NDDC.
Mr Akpabio further added that part of the discussion would be focused to embarking on major regional projects in the nine Niger Delta states.
“I can also assure you that by the time the forensic audit concludes NDDC will change for the good,” he promised.
Speaking, the Interim Administrator of NDDC, Efiong Akwa, thanked President Buhari and Mr Akpabio for their passion to repositioning the commission and the region.
He said that completion of the building was seen by many as a great achievement for the socio and economic development of the Niger Delta.
Mr Akwa also commended past administrations, NDDC boards, staff members, Rivers Government and host communities for contributing to the completion of the building.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the new NDDC office is equipped with facilities including hospital, banking hall, conference hall and restaurant.