The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide has disagreed with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for admitting that it awarded over N3.8bn contracts for procurement of health equipment to fight Lassa fever under the commission’s former Managing Director, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa.
The commission at the weekend disassociated itself from a document claiming that it awarded N5.5bn contract to Signora Concept Services Limited as claimed by the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiatives (IPDI) saying the document was fake and unauthorised.
But Odili admitted, “In early 2019, there was an outbreak of Lassa Fever in Ondo and Edo states, which overwhelmed the capacity of the state governments to cope.
“The governor of Ondo State made a request to the Commission for intervention. As a result, the then management, headed by Prof Nelson Braimbaifa on 20th February 2019 awarded a contract for the procurement of 21,000 Lassa Fever prevention kits for the region in the sum of N903 million. The items were supplied and distributed.
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“The contractor was duly paid. As the scourge persisted, there was need for further intervention. Another 1,000 protective kits were ordered for N1, 092,283,500. This contract was awarded on March 11, 2019. The last contract for Lassa Fever was awarded on April 16, 2019 in the sum of N2, 425,242,248.
“All the kits were supplied and distributed to the nine states. As at date, the Commission is yet to pay for this last contract. Payments had been suspended on ministerial order due to the need for verification of past contracts”.
Also, the Signora Concepts Services Limited while dismissing a report claiming that it was awarded N5.5bn contract by NDDC to supply Coronavirus personal protection equipment confirmed being among the companies that benefitted from the Lassa Fever contracts.
The firm in a statement signed by its Operation Manager, Patrick Ijeomah, explained that the commission under Brambaifa awarded Signora Concepts and 21 other companies contracts on Lassa Fever kits.
He said, “Some of the materials are still in the warehouse of NDDC till date. Amount paid by a former IMC Acting Managing Director, Dr. Joy Nunich, was N2.9bn and a balance of N972million still outstanding.
“Contracts had various medical accessories ranging from Lassa Fever kits, cholera vaccines and science equipment. It is not true that these items were never supplied as all the companies involved supplied the items and those items were dully inspected by officials of the commission and also distributed to the various communities.
“It will be pertinent to mention that the supply of these items became necessary due to the floods that ravaged the communities of the Niger Delta, which increased the possibility of cholera and Lassa Fever outbreak and made it impossible for women in labour to deliver safely in the various community primary health centres”.
But the IYC in a statement signed by its Chairman, Transition Implementation Committee, Kennedy Olorogun, Secretary and a member of the committee, Frank Akiefa and James Tobin, said there was no evidence of such contracts in the region.
Olorogun regretted that successive management of the commission was marred by controversies especially in the area of fund management.
He said, “Recently, the council was alarmed to the effect that under the leadership of Prof. Nelson Brambaifa and Dr Joy Yimebe Nunieh, the Commission reportedly approved the sum of N2.9 bn with an outstanding balance of N972million for the purchase of medical facilities for Lassa Fever kits, Cholera vaccines and Science equipments.
“And the Commission admitted that these items were supplied and distributed to various communities in the region. Without mincing words, the council frowns at the opaque manner the management of the commission conducts its activities especially as it relates to the management and distribution of the financial resources meant for the development of the region.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the council is up in arms with the commission on the said humongous funds that was approved by the commission for the purchase of medical items that would have been utilized for the benefit of the people of the region but was fraudulently frittered away by the top echelon of the commission.
“At no time was the council intimated about the activities of the commission with respect to the distribution of medical items for maternity purposes. The council has a very efficient and robust administrative structure down to the communities across the States of the Niger Delta.
“Therefore, it is amazing to hear that the Commission distributed medical items to aid safe motherhood delivery in the region as a result of a ravaging flood that affected the region”.
Olorogun urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to probe the Lassa Fever contract and how the health equipment was disbursed in the region.