May 17, 2020

NDDC: Let Akpabio and IMC members prove their innocence

Godswill Akapbio


By Johanna Ibe

The intention of President Muhammadu Buhari was undoubtedly very good when he ordered a forensic investigation of the activities of NDDC for 15 years since its inception. As patriotic as the President’s intention to purge the interventionist agency of corruption, this effort is being frustrated by the mere fact that NDDC has since become a cash cow for some individuals.

Sadly, allegations of corruption have continued to dog the NDDC. The latest was the N40bn alleged to have been misappropriated by the Prof. Kemebradikum Pondei led IMC under the watch of the supervising Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio.

The huge amount involved must have necessitated the move by the Senate to set up a panel to probe the allegation.

The probe seems to have unsettled the Niger Delta Minister and the NDDC Interim Management Committee. All sorts of groups and individuals have suddenly sprung up and ferociously publishing paid advertorials and press statements with suspecting frequency in different national newspapers.

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The groups that have taken up the emergency assignment of setting conditions for the yet to be composed Senate Investigation Panel are honestly needless if Akpabio and the IMC members have nothing to hide or fear.

The allegation that the people in charge of NDDC have been preoccupied with how best to frustrate the Senate investigation rather than getting prepared to prove their innocence is as rather curious as disturbing. A clear conscience should not have any reason to fear any accusation.

It was found quite suspicious when one of the groups speaking on the probe insisted that the Senate investigation should not be limited to the six months tenure of the IMC, but to cover the entire 15 years of existence of the interventionist agency.

Of course, only a fool would fail to decipher that the request was a ploy to distract the probe panel from the crux of the N40bn corruption allegation. The message of the Senate was clear when it announced her intention to probe only the activities of the IMC in the last six months.

It could also be assumed that other groups and individuals that have been very loud in the media were doing the bidding of IMC when they concluded that the Senate investigation will not be fair to Akpabio and members of the IMC.

It became even more curious that all these groups and individuals could recklessly accuse the Senate of presumed impartiality even before members of the probe panel are chosen.

While the media propaganda was ongoing, another alleged fraud of N16.2bn involving a company has surfaced. The alleged fraud case was investigated by the office of Auditor General and the company was not only indicated but mandated to make a refund of increment payment of N16.2bn to the coffers of the Federal Government.

The company was found guilty of inflation of contract sum and massive payment for services not rendered. This alleged fraud and that of the N40bn depressingly happened under the watch of Akpabio and the NDDC IMC.

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It is quite disturbing that within six months, individuals that have been saddled with the responsibility of severing NDDC from endemic corruption are now heavily burdened with fresh allegations of monumental corruption. Disappointing as this may appear, the Senate investigation panel remains an opportunity for those carrying the burden of corruption allegations in NDDC to prove their innocence.

As the nation looks forward to the commencement of the Senate investigation, those who have been loud in the media are advised to put a stop to the propaganda. It is also important they realize that their well-oiled media machinery targeted at diverting attention from the corruption allegations is increasingly becoming counterproductive.

The earlier they stopped dissipating energy and resources on the seeming resolve to frustrate the yet to begin Senate investigation, the better for them.

It is trite that any idol that cannot save an individual should rather leave such person just as created by God. The assignment given to members of the IMC is to oversee a forensic audit that will determine the extent of humongous corruption allegedly perpetrated over the years in the NDDC by unscrupulous individuals.

What is expected of IMC and the supervising minister is to get focused on their mandate of the forensic audit without compounding the Commission’s woes? Although, there is still enough room for Akpabio and IMC members to prove their innocence.