The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr Nsima Ekere, has promised that the 12-floor permanent headquarters of the Commission in Port Harcourt will be ready for inauguration by President Muhammadu Buhari before the end of next year.
Mr Ekere made the pledge on Friday during an inspection of the headquarters complex accompanied by the Executive Director Projects, Engr. Samuel Adiogbe, the Executive Director Finance and Administration, Mr Mene Derek and other directors of the Commission.
He said that the Commission would set up a taskforce to be headed by the Executive Director Projects to ensure that the project was completed before the target date, adding that he would like to have the privilege of inviting Mr President to inaugurate the new building.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer frowned at a situation where the Commission’s projects were unduly delayed. He said: “I think it is sad that a project that started 20 years ago is yet to be completed and we are still talking about site inspection. A child that was born when this building started is almost through with university education by now. So, it’s very sad that we are inspecting a project 20 years after commencement. We will look at what the issues are, including contractor’s capacity to deliver on this project.
“This project must be completed on time and I will not condone non-performance by our contractors.”
Mr Ekere remarked that the completion rate of NDDC projects all over the region was not very encouraging. “I remember that shortly after our appointment, I met with some International funding partners and other stakeholders and everybody seem to be very concerned about the state of abandoned projects in the region,” he said.
The MD said that the Commission was already carrying out “a couple of audits because we need to agree on the way forward in terms of prioritizing the projects.” He said that it was important to determine the projects that the Commission could afford to complete, depending on the ones that have the highest impact on communities.
Mr Ekere declared: “I don’t believe that there is any sense in starting a thousand projects and completing only one. So we will check the number of new projects and then concentrate on completing on-going ones. We want to complete our projects.”
The NDDC boss said that henceforth all projects being executed by the Commission would be covered by bank guarantees. “Our legal department will prepare agreement performance guarantees and further payments for projects will be guided by such agreements,” he said.
Mr Ekere also made observations on the security features in the new headquarters. He said:
“We need to look at the security provisions in this buildings; knowing that insecurity is a major challenge in the Niger Delta. So for a massive building of this nature, we need to have sufficient security architecture to take care of the staff, even the visitors coming in should also be sure that they are safe.”
In his own remarks, the NDDC Executive Director Finance and Administration, noted that the contractor did not manage the financial resources available to him well. He stated that more than 90 per cent of the funds had been released by the Commission.
The NDDC Head of Project Monitoring Services, Engr. Felix Aomreore said that the headquarters complex, which was initiated by the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Area Development Commission, OMPADEC, was initially conceived to be 14 floors.
He said that from the assessment of his directorate, the project had achieved 60 per cent completion. He explained that the headquarters complex would include other ancillary facilities such as a medical centre, car park, restaurant, bank, among others.
The project coordinator, Architect Felix Darko, assured the NDDC directors that they were working according to schedule and set standards. He said that the contractors involved in the project were determined to complete the multi-storey building on time.
He said that all the service equipment for the main building were already on the site waiting for installation. Other electrical equipment such as lifts and escalators are also on ground.