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Samuel Ogbuku and the Unending Rot In NDDC

By Peter McOliver

Following years of the criminal abandonment of the Niger Delta, and years of struggles to give the people of the Niger Delta, their fair share of their God given resources, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC was established in 2000 with the mission to develop the Niger Delta region of Nigeria through the provision of social and economic infrastructure. However, over the years, the agency has been plagued with allegations mismanagement and corruption, with the most recent scandals unfolding under the leadership of Dr. Samuel Ogbuku.

Ogbuku, who was appointed as the acting Managing Director of the NDDC in August 2023, has quickly became embroiled in numerous controversies as reports have been surfacomg of widespread corruption within the agency. 

Furthermore, the NDDC under Ogbuku's leadership has been characterized by a lack of transparency and accountability. Contracts are been awarded to cronies and political allies without any competitive bidding process, leading to inflated prices, substandard work, and kickbacks for those involved. Many projects are still left unfinished or abandoned, leaving communities in the Niger Delta without the vital infrastructure they so desperately need and have been earmarked for.

Reports of numerous misdeeds including issues of financial malfeasance, corruption, and embezzlement of funds have been alleged with unquantifiable evidence backing such allegations.

Instead of using the funds to improve the lives of the people in the Niger Delta, they have been diverted into private accounts and spent on luxury items, foreign trips, and lavish parties.

One of the most egregious examples of corruption at the NDDC under Ogbuku's leadership can be seen in the malfeasance of contracts buying; where a number of cronies acting as fronts for the MD are selling contracts such as the Light Up Niger Delta solar street lights projects where with bank drafts of 13%, these contracts are sold for sums up to N250M. What is more shocking is that these cartels sell these projects in lots without these companies meeting the required process.

Again one would notice that numerous projects continue to litter the Niger Delta region despite the fact that the billions of Naira budgeted for their completion have been released. This is because most contractors are been forced to part with 30% of such contract sums to cronies of the MD, this has forced a number of contractors to abandon such jobs.

With these strangulation, contractors are reluctant to execute NDDC contracts to completion, hence the NDDC has more abandoned projects than any organization in Nigeria 

There is no due process in the award of NDDC contracts but it remains a jamboree for the management headed by the MD.

The culture of corruption at the NDDC extended beyond financial impropriety to include nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism. Ogbuku appointed relatives, friends, and political associates to key positions within the agency, regardless of their qualifications or experience. This lack of meritocracy led to a decline in performance and a decrease in the quality of service delivery to the people of the Niger Delta.

The mismanagement of funds and resources at the NDDC under Ogbuku's leadership has had far-reaching consequences for the Niger Delta region. Communities that were supposed to benefit from development projects were left impoverished and underserved, while the wealth meant for their upliftment was squandered by corrupt officials. The lack of accountability and oversight within the agency allowed malfeasance to thrive unchecked, and the people of the Niger Delta paid the ultimate price.

These infractions at the NDDC under Ogbuku's leadership has not only eroded public trust in the agency, it has also whittled staff morale and attempted to dent the efforts of the Nigerian government to pull back the region from stagnancy and decrepitude. The flagrant disregard for the rule of law, ethics, and good governance displayed by those in positions of power at the NDDC has undermined the credibility of the government and the effectiveness of its development initiatives.

In light of these revelations, it is imperative that the Nigerian government through its corruption agencies takes swift and decisive action to hold those responsible for the mismanagement and corruption at the NDDC accountable. Those found guilty of embezzlement, fraud, and other forms of financial malfeasance must face the full force of the law, and steps must be taken to recover the stolen funds and reinvest them in development projects for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta.

Furthermore, systemic reforms must be implemented within the NDDC to ensure greater transparency, accountability, and oversight in the allocation and utilization of funds. A competitive bidding process for contracts must be established, financial audits must be conducted regularly, and mechanisms for reporting corruption and malpractice must be put in place to prevent future abuse of power.

Ultimately, the mismanagement and corruption at the NDDC under Samuel Ogbuku's leadership serve as a cautionary tale of the consequences of unchecked greed and malfeasance in positions of power. The people of the Niger Delta deserve better – they deserve leaders who are committed to their welfare, the development of their communities, and the eradication of poverty and inequality. It is incumbent upon the Nigerian government to take decisive action to root out corruption at the NDDC and restore faith in the agency as a force for positive change in the Niger Delta region.

Peter McOliver is the coordinator for Progressive Mass Movement for a Better Niger Delta and writes from Benin City

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