Thursday, May 6, 2021

PHOTOS: Cairo Ojougbo opens Abuja mansion six months into juicy NDDC appointment

Director of projects is lavishing suspected public funds amidst a raging corruption probe of Niger Delta Development Commission.

• December 17, 2020

Amidst allegations of endemic corruption at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), a director of projects at the federal agency, Cairo Ojougboh, has commissioned his multimillion naira deluxe apartment in the Federal Capital Territory.

Peoples Gazette learnt from multiple insider sources that Mr. Ojougboh, who doubles as chairman of NDDC Contracts Verification Committee, had financed the speedy completion of the luxurious real estate – nestled on Ihechukwu Madubuike Street, in the exquisite Guzape neighbourhood – within six months of his appointment into the commission.

Mr. Ojougboh, 61, a trained medical doctor from Delta State was appointed into the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC in October 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Following the sacking of Joy Nunieh as acting managing director of the IMC, the physician was retained by President Buhari in the committee which saw the emergence of Kemebradikumo Pondei (now ousted) as the new chair of the interim management team of the NDDC.

The House of Representatives had accused the Pondei-led IMC, of which Mr. Ojougboh was a prominent member, of lavishing N81.5 billion on frivolous expenditures between January and May 2020.

Listed among questionable spendings of the Pondei/Ojougboh-led interim board included N122.9m on condolences, N3.14bn on COVID-19, N486m Duty Travel Allowance, N85.6m on foreign travels, and N1.3bn on community relations.

Others were N248m on stakeholders’ engagement, N83m on consultancy, N220m on maintenance, N1.121bn on public projects communication, N744m on security, N8.8bn on staffing-related payment, N900m on legal service, N1.956bn on Lassa Fever, and N790.9m as imprest.

Mr. Pondei had dramatically collapsed while fielding questions from the parliament on the bloated spendings.

When contacted by the Gazette on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Ojougboh declined multiple requests for comments.

The NDDC contract chief has repeatedly criticised federal lawmakers for allegedly arm-twisting the agency into doing their bidding.

“Before now, the two chairmen of NDDC committees in the two chambers of the National Assembly were the de facto managers of the NDDC,” Mr. Ojougboh had said in February, while presenting coronavirus palliatives said to be worth N450 million to the Nigeria Police in Asaba.

He also refuted allegations on financial impropriety during a courtesy visit to the Asagba of Asaba, Obi Chike Edozien.

“I am 60 years old now. So if I don’t say the truth now, when will I say it? Your majesty, be assured that I have not stolen and I will not steal,” Mr. Ojougboh said.

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