Alleged plot by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio to sweep under the carpet the demands of Niger Deltans and other Nigerians on the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have been uncovered by the Transparency and Accountability Advancement group.
In a statement signed by Comrade Godknows Sotonye, National Coordinator, the group opined, the Nation newspaper of Sunday May 3, 2020, reported that the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, had written to the IMC on April 28 to explain the busted contract made in favour of Messrs. Signora Concepts Services Ltd at the cost of N5,474,647,125.00 following reports in the media of extensive sleaze involving the minister and the IMC.
“According to the letter from the ministry, “This is one of the cases of allegations of corruption raised in the (media) report”.
Akpabio also reportedly asked the IMC to “also address the allegations of the mandatory retirement of the Staff of the Commission over leaked documents.” The IMC was given three days to send in its reply.
It is obvious that corruption at the NDDC has been exposed for the world to see.
The IMC cannot be trusted no matter their resort to public relations using our limited resources in the NDDC. A query letter, which will probably end in the dustbin.
The facts on the ground and the evidence at the NDDC show clearly that the so-called query was only meant to engineer a public relations clean bill of health for the ministry.
Appearing on a Channels TV program, Dr Cairo Ojugboh who is the acting executive director projects, could only say that Presidential approval was being expected for contracts to be awarded. In the end, the president approved N6.25 billion.
Under intense questioning, Ojugboh also admitted that the IMC paid over N4 billion to some firms for Lassa fever medical equipment and supplies. Even in making these payments, the IMC resorted to splitting payments to circumvent financial regulations.
For instance, some items in the payment made for Lassa fever and other medical supplies were split in sums of N47, 166, 787 each all paid on the same day, February 22, 2020, all in the bid to circumvent financial regulations. NDDC insiders are emphatic that there are no evidences of job performance for many of the payments made under the IMC aside the fact that some were for jobs not yet done.
These are the issues Akpabio should address rather than bristling over his integrity, one he lost even before he became minister.
The fact of the matter is that the IMC currently is running a fraudulent operation at the NDDC, where there are no bids for contracts, lots and specifications for quality and quantity are not stated, and payments are made without adherence to financial regulations. All these under the watch of Akpabio who nominated the members of the illegal IMC.
President Buhari should direct the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies to look into the IMC operations at the NDDC. The national assembly must not sit idly by and be silent while the resources of the Niger-Delta people are pillaged. We call on Mr President to dissolve the IMC without further delay and put in place a substantive Board in line with the NDDC Act.