- Wonders why probe focused on five months
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has faulted the National Assembly inquest into the financial activties of the Niger Delta Development Commission (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 N15 trillion in the last 19 years, with nothing on the ground to justify the huge funds, wondering why the lawmakers decided to probe five months’ activities in the commission.
Speaking when members of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria ( IPMAN) visited him in Abuja, Thursday, he noted that discretionary probe would not address the problem of the commission, which he described as cesspit 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: “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 wing. 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, “That 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 tears and seven months. Those ones were period of bliss and period of success in the NDDC.”