…Says the present management has not awarded any single contract
…Vows that he will not be distracted
By Henry Umoru
FORMER Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio has taken a swipe at the Senators over the probe into the alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, saying the Senate erred.
Akpabio who is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs while firing back at the Senate, said the IMC of the NDDC came on board, it has not awarded a single contract.
In a statement Friday by his Chief Press Secretary, Anietie Ekong, Akpabio advised that the public should not be misled by what he described as spurious claims, adding that the NDDC his supervision will not be distracted, neither will the ongoing forensic audit of the Commission be derailed through blackmail and intimidation.
According to him, he would remain focused on the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the Commission for sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
Recall that the Senate on Tuesday last week began a probe into alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the IMC of the NDDC.
Consequently, the Senate same day, set up a Six- Member Ad-hoc Committee to carry out an holistic investigation on all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N4OBillion by the commission.
The Committee, which has four weeks to report back at Plenary, will also carry out a holistic investigation into all procurements and financial transaction of the commission in this fiscal year (2020) and any other matter that is not in accordance with the provision of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000 or any other extant law.
The Ad-hoc Committee which has Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti North as Chairman, has Senators Jika Dauda Haliru, APC Bauchi Central; Mohammed Tanko Almakura, APC Nasarawa South; Abdulfatai Buhari; APC Oyo North; Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North, Ibrahim Hadeija, APC Jigawa North East and Degi – Eremienyo Biobarakuma Wangaha, APC Bayelsa East.
The statement by Akpabio’s Chief Press Secretary read, “The attention of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has been drawn to sensational headlines about an alleged N40 billion corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) We wish to state categorically that under the supervision of Senator Akpabio, there has been no corruption in the NDDC.
“It is obvious that there have been an upsurge in attacks on the Commission, the Interim Management Committee and the Honourable Minister through spurious and unsubstantiated allegations since the commencement of forensic audit of the Commission. Unfortunately, these phantom allegations have found their ways into the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly.
“In response to the campaign of calumny, the Commission had explained that the Interim Management Committee has only approved the total payment of Eighteen Billion Naira (N18, 000,000, 000) for contractual claims. The payments to contractors are all payments for contracts awarded by previous administrations, especially the payment for contracts below N50 million. The present management has not awarded any single contract. So where is the bogey N40 billion coming from?
“It is instructive that the Commission under the supervision of Senator Akpabio has devised a strategy by which only duly verified and inspected contracts with photo and video evidences are recommended and approved for payments. The Interim Management Committee has been very prudent in managing the affairs of the interventionist agency.
“The interest of Senator Akpabio has been to ensure that the NDDC completes its headquarters building started since the days of the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), the contract of which was awarded with the approval of the Federal Executive Council many years before Senator Akpabio became the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
“Following the recent Presidential approval, the NDDC is also providing intervention support to complement efforts of the Federal and State governments against further spread of COVID-19 in the nine states of the Niger Delta.
“Senator Akpabio is upbeat about the plan to probe the NDDC as he has no skeleton in his cupboard. In fact, he will welcome a public hearing beamed live for all Nigerians to see. The probe of the Commission along with the ongoing forensic audit will expose those who have used their exalted positions over the years to fleece the NDDC through fully paid contracts which were never executed and other forms of contact racketeering.
“While we await the probe if carried through, we find it extremely insulting for Senator Akpabio’s name to be dragged into what is obviously a smear campaign.
“The general public should not be misled by spurious claims. The NDDC under the supervision of Senator Akpabio will not be distracted, neither will the ongoing forensic audit of the Commission be derailed through blackmail and intimidation. The Minister will remain focused on the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the Commission for sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.”