NDDC chairman disowns $15bn MoU with US firm for mega rail project

The Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Lauretta Onochie, has refuted claims of the commission signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with US firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc. for the construction of a mega rail project across the Niger Delta, from Lagos to Calabar.

In a statement, Onochie stated that neither she nor the NDDC Board had any knowledge of the purported MOU and that it was done without their authorization or consent.

“Everything about this shady ‘MOU’ is illegal due to the following reasons.

“By the act establishing the NDDC (Act No 6, of 2000), it is the Chairman of the board that is solely vested with the power to sign MOUs with any organization,” she said.

Onochie further stated that the US company, Atlanta Global Resources Inc., lacked the expertise and experience in any form of construction, let alone railway construction.

She also noted that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had awarded a contract for the same project in 2021 at the sum of $11.7 billion, making the signing of the MOU to the tune of $15 billion with AGRI suspect and dubious.

“The same clumsy, shady and hazy transactions of the past in NDDC, that had bedeviled and stultified identifiable progress in the past, was rested with the ‘Forensic Audit’ and the Inauguration of a new Board, with the sanitization of the Commission as its mantra.

“However, old habits die hard. And some individuals (within and without the Commission) still retain the retrogressive mindset that has held the Commission down for the past 22 years. We cannot remain in the old dubious path,” Onochie said.

She declared the MOU signed with Atlanta Global Resources Inc. null and void, and called on all partners in the quest for transparency and progress to take note.

“NDDC has not and could not have signed an MOU worth $15 billion (USD) without the Board and FEC’s approval.

“The present Board is set on transparency, equity, justice and equality, and ready to midwife and embrace other policies and programs that would uplift and improve the lives of the good people of Niger Delta. With diligence, perseverance, persistence and commitment, this Vision would come to pass,” she added.

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