Stakeholders and indigenes of Nigeria’s oil rich region, the Niger Delta, have applauded recent rapport between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the National Assembly, noting that it is in the overall interest of the region.
Recall that Akpabio had last week, paid courtesy visit to the newly appointed clerk of the national assembly, Mr. Ojo Amos Olatunde at his office in Abuja with a view to familiarising with him and to solicit the continuous cooperation of the legislative arm of government towards the development the oil rich region.
Praising the minister’s visit in a chat with our correspondents, Mr. Tony Essien, convener of a pressure group based in the region, Concerned Youths of Niger Delta (CYND), said it was a welcome move which according to him, would enhance synergy between the Niger Delta Ministry and the federal lawmakers.
Essien hailed the Minister as a man who has continued to demonstrate his love for the people of the Niger Delta as evidenced in his massive infrastructural development in Akwa Ibom State while he served as governor between 2007 and 2015.
“Yes, certainly, no doubt Akpabio is building synergy between the Niger Delta Ministry and the National Assembly which is in our interest as a region,” he said.
“We stand to gain from it. First, the passage of the ministry’s budget would be given priority attention, and getting the assembly to approve NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission) budget would be a lot easier.
“Akpabio is a man who has proved himself as an uncommon transformer. If you go to Akwa Ibom today, his footprints are unmistakable. He is the man who single-handedly led an infrastructural revolution in Akwa Ibom and gave the people of the state pride of place in the Nigerian federation. Now, his responsibility is to the entire Niger Delta, I have no doubt that with the right atmosphere, he will do for the region what he did for Akwa Ibom as governor.”
Also speaking with our correspondents, Mr. Clem Amune, an All Progressive Congress chieftain in Akoko Edo Local Government in Edo State, noted that while some have tended to read “unnecessary meanings” into the Minister’s gesture, there is no denying that he is doing his best for the Niger Delta region.
“You know, since the House of Representatives investigation of NDDC happened, with all the drama that followed, including the accusations and counter accusations, people are wont to view every move by the Minister with suspicion,” Amune said.
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“But that’s uncalled for, don’t forget that it was Akpabio’s ministry that initiated the NDDC probe in the first place, something previous administrations failed to do in spite of the corruption going on there. Akpabio came in and decided that it will no longer be business as usual. He initiated an investigation into the finances of the commission, that is commendable.
“He needs our encouragement, not criticism. I believe that he can do well for us as a region, we should not be looking to pull him down,” he concluded.
In a similar remark, Mr. Vincent Akpan, a public affairs commentator, noted that the minister was a blessing to Akwa Ibom people and still has the capacity to deliver for the Niger Delta.
“He (Akpabio) is a man of the people. He has continued to make Essien Annang, Akwa Ibom and the Niger Delta proud. He did so well as governor, I have no doubt that given the support he needs, he will do it for the Niger Delta as a region,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking on the Minister’s visit, spokesperson for the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu noted that it was a welcome gesture that would help build synergy between the two arms of government and enhance oversight.
“As representatives of the people, our doors are open to everyone inclusive of ministers as they are part of the people we represent. If they knock on our door, we must open it and hear them out,” Kalu told journalists after Akpabio’s visit last week Tuesday.
“The Honorable Minister supervising NDDC was at the National Assembly today to familiarize with the new Clerk of the National Assembly. It has nothing to do with the House of Representatives or the Senate. As a former member of the National Assembly, Akpabio has access to the National Assembly at all times because once a senator, always a senator.”
“NDDC, an agency under Akpabio’s ministry has undergone an investigation, and a report on the concluded probe is currently before the House of Representatives for consideration. His visit today has nothing to do with the finished investigation but to fine-tune the relationship moving forward for the interest of the Niger Delta region,” he said.
“The National Assembly has been asked severally if it supports the idea of the legislature and executive coming together to discuss from time to time about issues of national importance, the answer is yes, we are in support of this. That is why the leadership of the two houses, Senator Ahmad Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila are key partners of President Muhammadu Buhari’s new project of the tripartite committee.
“The purpose is to make sure the dividends of democracy reach the people. All the same, the manifesto of the party that brought the Government into place should be pursued and protected by the three arms of Government; though they may differ, yet the purpose of Government should remain the same and be the focal point.”