NDDC: What Next After the Drama?

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Kemebradikumo Pondei

By Eddy Odivwri

Can you see why I am always wary of probes in Nigeria? Can you in all honesty remember any probe that led to any meaningful rejig of the system or indicted people prosecuted diligently and jailed? Didn’t I say that all these probe drama of the sleaze in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are mere legislative shenanigans?

Calm down. I can assure you that it is not business as usual. There is a process in establishing guilt. Don’t be too much in a hurry .

Don’t tell me that! For so many years now we have been hearing it will not be business as usual. But the more they make it a slogan, the more it turns out to be business as usual. Did you not hear the other day when the Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila hastily ruled that the fainting MD of the NDDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei should no longer appear before the panel conducting the public hearing on the splurging of N81.5 billion in six months?

SO you are one of the many people who did not understand Mr Speaker. What he meant was that the panel had received enough information and details of the probe, and so compelling Pondei to appear again was unnecessary.

Hmmm, now that you have become the spokesman of Mr Speaker, so tell us what is next after all the drama. This is three weeks after. Where are we on the matter? Or do they think Nigerians will forget this one and move on?

Again, calm down. There is work in the mill. I am sure the report from the National Assembly will satisfy Nigerians. Already, the preliminary report from the Senate has shown that the so-called IMC team put in place by Senator Godswill Akpabio the minister of Niger Delta, spent N5 billion on medical allowances for themselves. N5 billion! Not even if all of them were cancer patients would they need that much to get a cure.

Or did you not also hear that the IMC team indeed embezzled N6.2 billion in the guise of distributing COVID 19 palliatives whereas everything they distributed were things that were in the store house of the commission? That nothing new was bought?

Or is it the distribution of face mask to police at the cost of N475million, as if the Nigeria Police Force is equal to Niger Delta, that we shall be talking about? Has the Police confirmed even receiving that money? They were simply spending money like fools.

Did you not also hear that while the NDDC Ogas at the top have been collecting N300 million every year for renting the Dappa Biriye House, that the edifice was actually given to the commission rent-free, after moving out of No 8 Olumeni Close , GRA Port Harcourt?

Or did you not hear also that…..

(Raising his right hand) Enough! I am tired of hearing financial abominations! What a plundering! What has been done to the people who gang-raped the region? That is what we want to know.

I can assure you that they will not go free this time. In fact, many people believe that both the minister of the Niger Delta, Akpabio plus all the Ali baba team that he constituted should be sacked from the stage without further delay. Allowing them to keep staying there would look like allowing them to preside over their own case.

But Akpabio has named some former governors like James Ibori, Emmanuel Uduaghan (both of Delta State) and Orji Uzor kalu (of Abia State) as those who also collected contract from the commission.

Do not mind Akpabio. Ibori and Uduaghan have denied the allegation. Kalu admitted influencing the award of a contract for a road in his constituency, but added that not a dime was paid by the commission for the project. But the point is not so much about who did what contract, it is more about both the cost of the contract and whether or not the contract was even done. Was it not said by Mr Godsday Orubebe, former Minister of Niger Delta that he once awarded a contract to even Chief E. k Clarke and the latter collected the money and abandoned the contract? It is such criminal acts that the government should rise up against because that is why the region has remained highly undeveloped despite all the money sunk into it.

But please also ask Akpabio whether or not he was not the one that collected the contract for clearing water hyacinth and de-silting drainages for over N9 billion, amongst others? What about the 33 contracts Joi Nunieh, the former MD of NDDC alleged that Akapbio collected on day one of her resumption? Or why is it that eight months after,t he so-called forensic audit has not even started? Just who are the auditors? Does he even have the powers to appoint auditors for a federal agency? Is that not the job of the Auditor General of the federation? Tell Akpabio that he cannot be throwing stones when he is sequestered in a glass house.

Look, in a country where people are in jail for stealing two tubers of yam or for snatching Nokia 3310, some people cannot be greedily amassing ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the people’s welfare and yet be allowed to run free on the streets. No! they should smell the walls of the prison, at least. That’s what Nigerians want to hear and see. Period!