The Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has spilled the beans by accusing some members of the National Assembly of collecting and diverting most of the contract of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Akpabio made the allegation in Abuja on Monday during the House of Reps committee on NDDC Investigating financial mismanagement in the agency.
In his statement, “Most of the contracts in NDDC were awarded to National Assembly members.”However, the Minister was challenged that he was also a member of the National Assembly during the 8th Assembly by a member of the committee, Boma Goodhead (PDP Rivers), and was also a member of the NDDC committee.
Goodhead said, “Are you now telling us that lots of jobs were awarded to you?” While responding, Akpabio said: “No.”
The lawmaker further stated, “If you were not awarded the contracts, why are you coming here to say that you were aware that lawmakers were awarded contracts?”
However, Akpabio in his attempt to respond was interjected by the deputy chairman of the committee who presides over the session, Thomas Ereyitomi, saying “its okay Hon. it's okay, Minister, don’t talk again, off the mic.”
Meanwhile, Akpabio debunked the earlier allegation by the former Managing Director of the NDDC, Joi Nunei, that he approved N10bn for her to share with contractors.
He also denied hijacking the forensic audit exercise ordered by president Buhari last year.
The Minister said the N2.5bn as the sum for executing the forensic exercise was included in their 2019 budget of the NDDC.
On the allegation that the agency was awarding a contract without following due process, Akpabio said the agency only awarded only three contracts since he assumed office as the Minister.
He listed the contracts as a forensic audit, purchase of 90 vehicles, and COVID-19 emergency projects. He added all protocols of due process were observed during the award of the contracts.
Concerning allegation of usurpation of the functions of the agency’s Managing Director in addition to his supervisory role as Minister. But Akpabio said he only intervened whenever the Commission “is going wrong”.
According to the Minister, he intervened when he heard about the payment of N2.9bn for Lassa fever.
In his statement, “I called and found out that they’ve paid the sum of N2.9 billion and they are about paying another N572 million. “I had to intervene and stop the payment because there was no budget for it,” he said.
Meanwhile, he denied knowledge of any payment of N5.8bn to flood victims which according to him were not budgeted for.
He said the Management withdrew N4.2 billion in a single day, saying the money was withdrawn in trenches but could not ascertain what it was used for.
However said the agency is the region that contributes about 90 percent of the national resources, closing it down would mean chaos as it has contributed immensely in bringing peace to the region.