From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that, henceforth, fraudulent practices and violation of the procurement laws will be meted with appropriate sanctions as stipulated in the Public Procurement Act
He gave the warning while declaring open a retreat for management of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, held at the State House Conference Center, Presidential Villa Abuja.
Represented by the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, Buhari, reiterated his administration’s commitment to stamp out the menace of graft, vowing that “henceforth, fraudulent practices and violation of the procurement laws will be meted with appropriate sanctions as stipulated in the Public Procurement Act.”
He further enjoined the stakeholders to take advantage of the gathering to “correct whatever irregularities that existed in the past, and thereby attain an effective and prosperous working relationship for the best interest of the region, and the nation at large.”
The President also appealed to the people of the Niger Delta region to exercise restraint and allow a conducive atmosphere for implementation of the several government developmental Projects and Programmes initiated for the area.
He noted that the essence of the retreat was to sensitize and educate the Management of the Ministry and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on how to function collaboratively to achieve their respective mandates targeted at improving the living conditions of the Niger Deltans.
Buhari said the Federal Government had made huge commitments to the Niger Delta Region in line with his administration’s resolve to give the people a new lease of life.
He added that his administration has been proactive in response to issues of the Region, stressing that it has been adopting and implementing more prudent policies and programmes that will bring about a better Niger Delta Region.
Buhari said, “I urge all well- meaning Nigerians, especially the Niger Deltans, to exercise restraint and ensure a conducive and secured environment for implementation of the several developmental Projects and Programmes in the Region.”
He particularly cited the ongoing East-West Road Project, stressing that, it is one of the largest infrastructure in Nigeria, and “strategic” in connecting the Country’s busiest and foremost Commercial Cities, in the Region.
He noted that the project was priority to the Administration and assured it will be completed before the end of his tenure as President next year.
Buhari said it was heartwarming to note that, the Ministry has prioritised the repositioning of the NDDC to ensure they deliver on their objectives and mandate.
In pursuance of his administration’s determination to curb corruption and in response to the call of the Governors of South-South for a Forensic Audit of NDDC, the President explained that he undertook some critical reforms and requested a Forensic Audit of NDDC from inception to 2019. According to him, the Report of the Audit has been submitted and implementation of its recommendations has commenced in phases.
He assured that the process will soon usher in a new Management and Board for the Commission.
The President directed the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited and its subsidiaries to step in, with a view to fixing the Section 4 of the East West Road (Eleme Roundabout to Onne junction) through the Tax credit Scheme.
“This should be expeditiously addressed considering the importance of the road to our national economy,” he added.
In his welcome remark, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana said, the retreat was an eloquent testimony of the unflinching commitment of the Federal Government to redressing the under development, unemployment and inequalities pervasive in the region due to the lack of collaboration, synergy and coordination among the Agencies, Development Partners and Stakeholders participating in the development and transformation of the Niger Delta Region,which the retreat will address.
He said the treat will come out with a better positioned to work harmoniously to drive the Federal Government’s strategic mandates in the region through the formulation, implementation and coordination of all policies and programmes geared towards the overall rapid and sustainable development of the region
He called on stakeholders in the Region to support the Government in achieving its vision for its Development and consolidate on the gains so far achieved.
Also speaking, Governor Hope Uzodimma said that President Buhari’s call will bring about the needed development of the Niger Delta.
Represented by his Special Adviser, Dr Jimmy Imo, the governor said “I definitely believe the President called for synergy between the Niger Delta states and all the development partners. I believe the President’s call, if heeded, it will bring about the needed development, especially infrastructural development in the Niger Delta, that’s what the Niger Delta area needs.”
The expanded retreat had the Governors of Oil Producing States, Chairmen of the relevant Committees of both the Senate and House of Representatives, Oil Companies, Ministries, Departments and Agencies in attendance.