Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio has promised to change the negative narrative of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under his ministry, saying he has always asked God to give him the opportunity to make huge impact in the Niger Delta region.
The minister said that he wanted to see a Niger Delta region where employment opportunities are created for the people and huge infrastructure developed.
“Like I have always said that if God gave me the opportunity, I would change the narratives, and now, God has given me the opportunity; I listen to what people were saying.
“As the Minister of the Niger Delta, I want to see a Niger Delta region where employment opportunities are created for the people. I want to see major bridges connecting from Okirika to Yenagoa. I want to see Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) specialists’ hospital,’’, Akpabio told journalists in Abuja.
The former Senate Minority Leader added that he is committed to those objectives of the ministry and is working towards achieving them.
He, however, added that he could not achieve all these if the only parastatal under his ministry still remained the way it was perceived.
According to him, “I know as a governor, I didn’t like NDDC, I know as the Minority Leader in the Senate, I did not like the NDDC because of the most things that were going on there.
“The major projects there are not the projects that can turn the life of the people around. They believed in the projects that would put money in their pockets. They are more interested in retreats, training and re-training. They supply hospital equipment to hospitals that they do not need.
“They started three specialists’ hospitals – one in Port Harcourt, one in Ondo and up till now, they have not completed them. I like to see an NDDC that has its international headquarters where people can come and negotiate.’’
Questioning the lack of transparency in the appropriation of NDDC’s funds, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State said he would want to see an NDDC where the final budget that comes out will be the one that will bring infrastructural development to the region.
“What happens today is that if the National Assembly passes nine items; Health, N55million; education, maybe N50million, but you don’t know the nitty-gritty. But when people go and sit down and try to balkanise it, they can put N100million for the three special hospitals and if it was N10million, the balance of N9.9million they will put into the supply of project. That means that such project has failed.
‘’For 19 years, we can’t point out one project, we cannot point out one industry from the NDDC, and we cannot point one hospital from the NDDC.
‘’What we can point is the cash probably in the pockets of those who had the opportunity. But for me, I want to see the total turn around. When we finish the forensic audit, it is not meant to witchhunt anybody, but it is meant to reposition the NDDC’’, the Minister of Niger Delta further explained.
Akpabio said he has not awarded any contract since he became a minister, but has been involved in the execution of two contracts.
He said the first contract was the appointment of the forensic auditor, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), while the second contract was the COVID-19 intervention by the NDCC.