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There is disquiet in the Niger Delta Development Commission as the Executive Director in charge of Projects, Mr. Inibong Etteh, has petitioned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Yayale, alleging that that the commission's managing director, Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha, was unilaterally issuing and signing award letters for contracts.

In the petition dated March 31 2010 which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday, Etteh alleged that Ugwoha had unilaterally signed award letters for 52 different projects worth N5.8bn contrary to the provision of the authorisation manual of the commission.

According to the petitioner, Yayale had met with NDDC top officials over the matter and directed them to go back and work harmoniously in line with the operation manual of the commission.

The petition reads in part, 'Sir, you will recall that in our last meeting with you in your office, you directed us to go and work harmoniously in line with the Operation Manual of the Commission until it is amended by the committee set up to do so.

'We came back and started working harmoniously until last Friday/Saturday 26th and 27th March 2010 when the managing director after giving his approval for the award of contracts under N250m threshold decided to issue and sign all award letters by himself contrary to Article 560(f)(iv) of the authorisation manual.

'Sir, by this, the MD has clearly violated of (sic) article of the manual thereby causing tension in the commission.

If this scenario is encouraged, it means that the MD/CEO can generate projects, approve and award without the knowledge of the EDP's office.'

However, in his reaction to the petition, the Special Assistant to the Managing Director of NDDC on the Media Matters, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo, insisted that his boss was not wrong to have signed the contract awards.

He said that the MD only signs contracts, which had undergone mandatory due process and had been approved by the board of the commission.

Ogbodo further explained that contracts awarded by the NDDC were in categories, stressing that there were ones that could be handled within the commission.

He acknowledged the existence of the authorisation manual of NDDC, but maintained that it was just an internal guideline which the Public Procurement Act superseded.

According to him, the Public Procurement Act reposed the responsibility of signing contract awards and taking responsibility for their success or failure on the head of every government organisation.