*Insists that rot in dates back to inception
*Assures that forensic audit will be ready in December
Minister of Niger Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has said that he is not deterred by the series of corrupt allegations against him since he has no skeleton in his cupboard.
Alleging a campaign of calumny against him, he noted that the NDDC had failed to deliver to the people of the region almost two decades after its operation.
Akpabio was reacting to a series allegations levelled against him by the immediate past managing director of the NDDC Ms. Joy Nunieh.
Nunieh who was fielding questions from journalists had alleged that during her brief tenure at the commission, Akpabio repeatedly pressured her to take “an oath of secrecy” that was meant to stop her from exposing fraud at the commission.
The former MD who was relieved of her appointment after confrontation with the minister, said: “For instance, he told me to raise a memo to fraudulently award emergency contracts for flood victims in the Niger Delta. I would have been jailed if I had succumbed to Akpabio’s ‘oath of secrecy”.
However, reacting to the allegations, the minister insisted that the rots in NDDC dated as far back to the inception of the commission in 2001.
He defended his decision to reposition the commission stating that the NDDC had failed to deliver to the people of the region almost two decades after its operation.
The minister who disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had specifically said when he assumed office that it would not be business as usual again in the commission that an audit report of the commissiob that covers a period between 2001 and 2019 would be made public in December.
He added that the people fighting him were those that have been eating fat from the commission that are afraid of the forensic audit.
He said, “We had a meeting with all the governors of the nine states where it was agreed that we should undertake forensic study.
“The NDDC started in 2000. But its operation commenced in 2001. The audit would cover a period between 2001 and 2019. So, you do not expect those who have been eating fat, even the staff members to be happy with it.
“The report of the forensic audit has not been made public because we are yet to visit state offices. Just last week, I approached the FEC and prepared the memo for the forensic auditors, who are going to the state. The forensic audit will be completed before December 2020 no matter the allegations”.
While stressing that he will remain focused in his mandate to reposition the NDDC, Akapbio described as unfortunate that the endemic corruption, lack of patriotism and the entrenched culture of patronage had crippled the commission from delivering its mandate to the people of the region in the last 19 years of its operations.
According to him, there is nothing tangible on ground in the NDDC because of corruption
“The NDDC has existed for 19 years. No one can pass through the Warri-Sapele road every year when it is raining. It is just 45 kilometres. It is a road we can award to fantastic company and people will say this is the NDDC road.
“If you do not love your children, you cannot give them the best. If you bring in those who do not love the region, they move their pocket forward instead of moving the region forward. I do not care about any allegation.
“What I care about is that things cannot remain the same again. In less than eight months, we have moved the managing director and other executive directors to the permanent site. It is an 18-storey building. It is totally finished. But it is 96 percent complete. Under 18 months, that is a will.
“What has happened in the NDDC is the people go there to steal the NDDC. If they attempt to steal the NDDC, then it means there will be no benefit for the people of Niger Delta”.
“Of course, I expected all these things coming my way when I was appointed minister. If you place a seed, that seed must first die before it germinates. The NDDC must go through this process before it stands”, he added.
Akpabio further advised the former acting managing director “to go to the hospital; see a doctor; get some injection and relax”.
“I am not saying anything is wrong with her. But something is wrong with her temperament. You do not need to ask me. But you ask about four other husbands she married.
“She was not relieved of her appointment because of corruption. But she was relieved of her appointment because of insubordination. My ministry that supervised her wrote seven letters to her. She never responded. And then she said she was bigger than the Minister of Niger Delta”.