FORMER Governors Orji Uzor Kalu, James Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan have distanced themselves from being beneficiaries of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contracts.
The trio, in separate statements on Monday, said the claim by Minister of Niger Delta Senator Godswill Akpabio was unfounded and ridiculous.
Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, had in a list he submitted to the House of Representatives mentioned them and others as having enjoyed jobs awarded by the NDDC.
But Kalu, who is the chief whip of the Senate and a former governor of Abia State, said Akpabio must have mentioned his name for facilitating some road projects that had yet to be paid for by the commission.
The Senate Chief Whip, in a statement by Barrister Emeka Nwala, revealed that his name was mentioned by Akpabio because he used his letter head to write a sympathetic letter to the NDDC in 2016 pleading with the intervention agency to rescue roads in in parts of Abia State.
He expressed worry over his name being unjustly tarnished and “used to sell newspapers” as a result of the minister’s allegation. Yet in a another breathe, Kalu said he would not hesitate to request for more road interventions from Akpabio who described as “a good old friend.”
Kalu said: “The roads I requested for intervention as mentioned by the 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 ongoing.
“Meanwhile, it would interest Nigerians to know that the contractors who built these roads have not been paid any dime.
“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. “The honourable minister 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. I am very confident he will oblige our future requests especially in areas of good roads.”
Ibori, in a statement by his Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, described Akpabio’s allegation as ridiculous.
He said the level the NDDC had degenerated was at variance with the dream the Niger Delta governors of his time had while fighting for its creation by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
The statement added: “Chief James Onanefe Ibori, on hearing the news of the alleged Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contract award to him … did not want to join the “dancing in the market square going on in NDDC right now.
“He has decided to make this clarification for records because friends and associates had called him on phone this morning. So, he is stating categorically that he never solicited for, or was awarded, or indeed executed any contract with NDDC or any government agency, at any time.
“Ibori said that the NDDC we have today is a product of his personal sacrifice as well as those of his Niger Delta colleagues (1999 -2007) who rose to the occasion to override the veto of President Obasanjo who refused to accent to the NDDC Bill at the time.
“If not for the exemplary courage some of us exhibited, there would have not been NDDC today.
“Watching the level the NDDC has degenerated to, it has become a tragedy. We owe it a duty to the people of the Niger Delta to make NDDC work so as to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the region and to realise the dream for which we fought for it to be set up.”
On his part, ex-Governor Uduaghan, in a statement by his Media Assistant, Monoyo Edon, said he “has never approached the NDDC for any contract whatsoever.”
Uduaghan was linked to the emergency repairs of Close B, Alhaji Estate & Environs in Rumuodomaya, Port Harcourt, Rivers State at a cost of N429m.
The statement reads: “We want to state very clearly that the said accusation is false . It is even more ridiculous that the said contract my name is mentioned is a road inside Port Harcourt town.
“Dr. Uduaghan has drawn the attention of the minister to the publication and hopes he makes a correction.”