Ochei's Birthday Gift: Delta Assembly Initiates IPP Probe

Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) – 
As former Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Engr. Victor Onyekachi Ochei marks his 47th birthday anniversary with pomp and pageantry on Thursday, February 25, 2015, the state legislature on the other hand initiated a probe on the award and execution of the controversial multi billion naira Independent Power Project (IPP) awarded to him during erstwhile Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan’s administration.

The Independent Power Project, awarded by the Delta state government in 2009 at the cost of 21.7 billion Naira and in 2010 reviewed upward to N23.2billion has generated lots of speculations on the faith of its completion, leading to the setting up of a five-man adhoc committee by the state legislature to investigate the state of the project.

The project was awarded to an indigenous firm, Dav-Notch, owned by Hon. Victor Ochei in 2009 and that the state government has so far paid about N19 billion Naira to the contractor out of the N23.2 billion Naira total contract sum.

While Ochei, who is touted to be the most versatile, vibrant and goal-getting Speaker of the state legislature since inception was dining and wning with family members, friends and well-wishers at his Asaba residence, the adhoc ccommittee members were busy taking notes at the site of the project in Oghara, as they were being conducted round the site by the Director, Electricity Power Supply Department, Delta State Ministry of Energy, Engr. Felix Abojei.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon Tim Owhefere who is the Majority Leader of the house and former colleague of ex-Speaker Ochei, expressed sadness over the level of work after alleged payment of over 19 billion Naira out of the contract sum of 23.2 billion Naira and vowed to probe all the parties involved in the project to ensure its completion for the benefit of Deltans.

Inspite of his lamentations, he vowed that the project can not be abandoned as huge resources of the state has already been expended on it with a pledge that the present Governor Ifeanyi Okowa led administration would see to its completion, emphasising that the vision of the state government concerning the project must be accomplished.

He noted that the committee decided to visit the project site for on-the-spot assessment as it can not base its report on hearsay, expressing worry that even a blind man who managed to find his way to the site will know that nothing has been done.

Hon Owhefere who stated that what is on ground at the site leaves much to be desired, however maintained that the visit was just the beginning of the investigation, assuring that the committee at the end of the exercise would be able to come out with a comprehensive report on how much has been spent on the controversial project, as well as how much was the original contract value and how much was judiciously spent.

Earlier, the Director, Electricity Power Supply Department, Delta State Ministry of Energy, Engr. Felix Abojei, disclosed that the project was awarded to an indigenous firm, Dav-Notch in 2009 and that the state government has so far paid about N19 billion Naira to the contractor out of the N23.2 billion Naira total contract sum.

He explained that the project was designed to install two number 64MGW Rose-rot turbines and was awarded in June 2009 at a cost of N21.7 billion and was supposed to last for four years.

Engr Abojei further disclosed that the contractor later wrote to the state government that the delay in the payment of the agreed 60 percent to it of the total sum caused some variation in prices of materials, asking for an upward review to accommodate the changes.

He stated that the amount was later reviewed to N23.2billion in 2010.

The Director however told the committee that in 2014 when the contractor was not able to deliver the project, government decided to sell the project, stating that the process for the sale is still on.

Responding to the planned sales of the project, the Chairman of the the investigative adhoc committee, Hon Tim Owhefere said the Delta State House of Assembly was not aware of such line of thought.

He wondered what must have informed that after the state government has spent over 19 billion Naira on the project.

The committee was shown the level of civil work at the administrative block, the control building, the Workshop, the storage tank, the power station and outdoor control section.

Other members of the committee include, Hon Efe Ofobruku, Anthony Elekeokuri, Emeka Nwaobi and Eric Oharisi.

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Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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