…Says N5 Trillion Wasted On The Region in 20 Years
…Asks NASS To Probe Corruption in 20 Years, Not 5 Months
By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has described the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) where people make withdrawals to contest elections.
The Minister who disclosed this when members of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria ( IPMAN) visited him in Abuja, added that the NDDC was like a cesspool for serious corruption for over 19 years before he was appointed into office in 2015.
Akpabio faulted the National Assembly inquest into the financial activities of NDDC between February and July 2020 rather than embark on a comprehensive probe of the interventionist agency’s 19 years of existence.
The NDDC, he stated, received over N5 trillion in the last 19 years, with no physical project on ground to justify the huge funds and wondered why the lawmakers decided to probe five months’ activities in the commission.
He noted that discretionary probe would not address the problem of the commission, which he described as cesspool of corruption.
He, however, assured Niger Delta residents and the country in general that the outcome of the ongoing forensic audit would expose the magnitude of rot in the Commission.
The minister said: “All they are talking about now is corruption in five months not corruption in 19 years, so those period where periods of Bliss and successes for the NDDC?
“I am sure that is why you have roads to pass in the region, that is why you have bridges everywhere in Niger Delta, that is why you have dualised roads and flyovers everywhere, that is why you have NDDC hospitals everywhere in the region to the extent that you don’t even need to travel out of the region to look for medical care, that is why the region is very rich with light everywhere, that is why we don’t have a single problem in Ogoni land because everywhere has been cleaned up, pipe borne water everywhere.
“Niger Delta is reigning with development after N5trillion in 19 years, the problem we have now is just this five months, that is why we are probing the five months in National Assembly, but the reverse is the case, if you are from Niger Delta you will know that we need to ask questions.
“I was in this office when a young man walked in the ministry and said, ‘I was given a contract to supply fingerlings for 6billion and I have at least 3billion still in my account and I asked him by who, he said NDDC and I asked him when, he said like 3 years ago and he said with the probe coming he doesn’t know what to do because he is not too strong.
“And he said ‘Sir can I return 3billion out of the 6billion and I asked him ‘didnt you supply and he said he was not given where to supply to. In his records they wrote across 27 Senatorial districts why there is no single fish pond in the region. I think they were more interested in giving out contracts than doing the job.
“As a Governor I knew that there is something wrong with the NDDC but I didn’t really know what it was till I was appointed minister that was when I discovered that the NDDC was like a cesspool for corruption; it is like an ATM for people to come and collect money to contest next election.
“This is a place that was built out of the blood of our children and after all this years, one would have thought that yes, we have arrived. Even if 20percent of the N5trillion have gone into the region we could have seen something on ground.
As I speak, there is no single hospital that you can point to that this is NDDC hospital; as I speak, in the entire Ogoni land water is a problem, people are still using canoes in Niger Delta to go and get just a bucket of clean water from the next community.
“Whether I am here or not, I believe we should change the story and the story can change when we tell the truth but a lot of people are not ready to tell the truth, people are fugitives already.”
He continued: “In the quest to reposition the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and bring development and succor to the Niger Delta region, you will never walk alone. That is what I think out of NDDC. And I am very excited about it.
“Things have started so fast that I have started wondering that is it that the voices have been drown? Is it that the voices of the masses are wearing now? Is it because of the mask we are wearing now? Nigerians and Niger Deltans can no longer talk? Or is it that I am a mad man, who has seen the reason to move the region forward. Is it that people are not aware that NDDC for instance has existed for the past 20 years.
“Why can’t people ask questions? How come it is only now that the noise is louder? How come it is only now that even our parliament has found it necessary to conduct a selective probe of NDDC? Instead of beginning from the inception, year 2001, they are now doing five months probe out of almost 20 years of existence.
“Why? NDDC has been in existence since 1999. What is really happening now? How is it all petitions on earth are happening? The answer lies in the wind. When the wind blows, it blows along with answer.
“But I had an interview with Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and that was sometime in October /November 2019. Shortly after Mr. President ordered Forensic Audit of NDDC. I was on NTA and I pointed that as soon as this forensic audit commences, that hell would be let loose.”
Continuing, he said: “You will hear petitions, you will hear shout, you will hear accusations, and you will hear false accusations. In fact, they would start campaign of calumny, not just against the Minister, not just against the ministry, even against President himself for daring to ask for forensic audit.
“To have received this commendations and confidence vote from the leadership of the IPMAN, we are not working alone. That in spite of the noise and false accusations and all that, the Niger Deltans are with me and the Ministry of Niger Delta. We give God glory.
“I will be very glad to pass this message to Mr. President, because, if he was not a strong man and his experience in government, it would have been easier for the noise of dissent to drive the truth, he would have said, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) is hereby dissolved and minister is hereby removed from the office.”
He alleged that the orchestration against him and the IMC was so organised and well-funded, adding, “you hardly open a newspaper and you don’t see screaming headline, and all they are talking now is corruption in five months; not corruption in 19 years and seven months. Those ones were period of bliss and period of success in the NDDC.”
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