Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, yesterday fought back the push against him, criticising the limited scope of the National Assembly’s inquest into the financial activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
According to him, the probe should not be restricted to between February and July 2020 that’s currently the mandate of the National Assembly, but should be a comprehensive probe of the interventionist agency’s 19 years of existence.
The NDDC, he said, received over N15 trillion in the last 19 years, with nothing 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, yesterday, Akpabio noted that discretionary probe would not address the problem of the commission, which he described as a cesspit of corruption.
He, however, assured Niger Delta residents and the country that the outcome of the ongoing forensic audit would expose the magnitude of the rot in the commission.
The minister said: “In the quest to reposition the Niger Delta Development Commission, and bring development and succour 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 drawn? 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? 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 out that as soon as this forensic audit commences, that hell would be let loose.”
According to him, during the interview, he predicted petitions would be filed against the activities of NDDC while its officials would be accused of various wrongdoings.
“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 Mr. 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 the noise and false accusations and all that, the Niger Deltans are with me and the Ministry of Niger Delta. We give God glory,” he stated.
He said the orchestration against him and the NDDC Interim Management Committee (IMC) was so organised and well-funded “that you hardly open a newspaper and you don’t see a 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.”