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    Buhari vows to recover NDDC funds from looters, justifies audit

    The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said every recoverable kobo will be recovered for use in the service of the people of the Niger Delta region and those found culpable of looting funds meant for the people shall face the law.

    He said it was regrettable that the special development fund of the entire region was squandered by a few for more than 20 years, leaving the majority of the people in penury.

    Buhari spoke on Thursday in Abuja at the virtual inauguration of the NDDC prototype hostel at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

    In his address, the President said the lives of the people of the Niger Delta could be so much better if the funding received by the commission since its inception, amounting to billions of naira over the last 20 years, had been judiciously deployed in the service of the people.

    Buhari stated, “The serial abuse, lack of delivery and what had become an entrenched institutional decay, was the reason why I called for the forensic audit.

    “Therefore, going forward, we shall ensure that every recoverable kobo is recovered for use in the service of the people of this region and those found culpable shall face the law.

    “Consequently, I want to use the opportunity of this inauguration to direct all statutory contributors to the NDDC to remit all outstanding funds to the commission and to ensure that this is done transparently and according to laid down procedure and process.”

    The President directed that all abandoned projects that directly impact the livelihood of the people should be revived and completed.

    He said, “When I directed the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to institute a forensic audit of the commission, after many representations by major stakeholders in the Niger Delta, I had also directed that all viable projects, which had been abandoned, but which would impact positively on the lives and livelihoods of the people, be immediately revived and completed.”

    He noted that the contract for the building of the 1,050-capacity hostel for male and female students was awarded in 2004, and like many others, was abandoned.

    The prototype university hostel consists of 1,050 bed spaces, 525 each for males and females, and is furnished to meet the needs of the students. The complex also boasts of hard and soft infrastructure to ensure its sustainability and durability.

    According to Buhari, the completion of the structure is in recognition of the importance the government attaches to providing quality housing and improved education for all Nigerians.

    He said the project was another proof that his regime was committed to satisfying the needs of the people throughout Nigeria and fulfilling their expectations.

    The President added, “The government must continue in its efforts to serve the people by providing amenities as well as the enabling environment for scholarships and investments across all sectors for the sustenance of the environment and overall growth of the economy.

    “Significant part of this success story is that it could easily not have happened. The contract for this hostel was awarded as far back as 2004. It was one of many projects abandoned across the Niger Delta region, but which I directed the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to expeditiously complete and put to use.”

    Buhari said across many public universities and institutions of higher learning, children face accommodation challenges, while private investors were taking advantage of the gap to provide accommodation and tasking the resources of parents and guardians.

    “Many of them are located far away from school premises and come with their own peculiar challenges. It is good that such an infrastructure gap is being addressed by providing accommodation for students that will be affordable, well built and in a secure environment,” he said.

    Buhari noted that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, on his behalf, inaugurated the Special Protections Unit Base 6 Barracks in Omagwa, Rivers State, which was built and donated by the NDDC to the Nigeria Police Force.

    He stated, “Firstly, and as stated at that occasion, the complex is part of a crucial component of the major reform we are undertaking with the Nigeria Police Force. While we are working to increase the number of police personnel within set yearly targets and re-equip personnel, both in personal gear and hardware, accommodation remains an important feature of that reform. Indeed, it showed that we can alleviate the accommodation challenges of senior security personnel in order to enhance security in the region.

    “Secondly, this singular intervention demonstrates that the NDDC understands the importance of government’s effort at improving the lives and livelihoods of our police officers in line with my directive that building of barracks for men and women of the police force should be done in collaboration with the special housing effort of the Family Home Funds.”

    In his remarks, Akpabio said the completion of the NDDC headquarters complex and other projects showed the President’s commitment to improving the livelihood of people of the Niger Delta.

    “President Buhari is focused on the development of Nigeria and the Niger Delta. He wants to ensure that by the time he leaves office, the NDDC is repositioned to live up to the expectations of the founding fathers,” Akpabio stated.

    The Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, thanked the President for always honouring the institution by inaugurating three projects in a year.

    “The three projects have one thing in common, they were all abandoned before the forensic audit,” he added.

    The Vice-Chancellor, University of Uyo, Prof Nyaudoh Ndaeyo, and the Students Union Government of the institution also appreciated the President for the intervention.

    Copyright PUNCH.

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