The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, on Friday, said the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had not made meaningful impact because it was only serving “greedy politicians” in the region.
He stated this when he appeared before the Senate ad hoc committee on the alleged misappropriation of N40bn in the intervention agency by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) between October 2019 and May 2020.
He said the Niger Delta people had never been impressed with Commission because it had been executing politically-motivated projects, which were not durable.
The minister said, “The reason why you hear so much hue and cry about the NDDC was because of the closure of the tap. If the tap was opened, there will be no need for adhoc committee.
“This didn’t happen in 19 years but it is happening now because somebody has closed the tap slightly and that is why everybody is panicking.
“NDDC for me was not serving the Niger Delta. It was just serving the greedy politicians.”
Forensic audit only solution to commission’s problems
Akpabio, noted that the only solution to the NDDC problem was the forensic audit as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said international firms were also invited to join the forensic auditing.
He also said there was the need to set up governance structure to regulate the activities of the intervention agency to stop wastage and block leakages.
“For the Niger Delta region to get maximum benefit, we must rejig the way we do budgets for the NDDC.
“We want to have one regional master plan so that we have uniform development of project and end duplication across the region,” he added.
Meanwhile, Akpabio denied collecting and executing projects worth N500m in the commission, describing it as a “total falsehood”.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, had recently accused Akpabio of securing the projects without executing them.
Akpabio said, “Probably when I was in the Senate, I must have made recommendation to include the projects in the budget but they were not considered. So no money was paid.
“It [the allegation] was a total falsehood. I have never been a contractor in NDDC.”
Akpabio also said since he became the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, he had approved only one contract for the NDDC and that was in respect of COVID-19 intervention.
“I didn’t know about any expenditure nor gave any approval during the last IMC tenure. I have approved only one contract for the NDDC since I came in,” he added.