For 19 years, NDDC couldn’t point to one solid project —Akpabio

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has dominated news space in recent times mostly for the wrong reasons. The name of the minister in charge of Niger Delta Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who is NDDC’s supervising minister, has also featured prominently. In a brief interaction in Abuja, Akpabio explained why he took certain steps. SANYA ADEJOKUN here brings an excerpt.

 

ROOT causes of NDCC crisis.

We are very determined to reposition the NDCC. I think the root of the problem are the years of corruption; endemic corruption. Mr President is very determined to leave a legacy of having an NDCC that is free of corruption. For me, I believe strongly that we shall achieve the objective.

As of today, the Federal Executive Council has approved a forensic Lead Auditor, Olumiyiwa Bashir and Co, and we have started work. Over 8000 documents have been given to them.

As a governor of Akwa Ibom State and as Minority Leader, I was personally not impressed with the way things were being done in the NDCC. They will do road but within one year, the first rainfall will wash the road away. I had decided to correct those things in the Niger Delta, and to the God’s glory, I succeeded. It is not new, people do not like change.

Some of the roads I did in 2007, 2008, 2009, that is 11 years after, they are still there without potholes. I took cognisance of the terrain and I made sure that I was better to spend money and do a quality job, than to spend money every year to attend to the same thing.

 

An opportunity to clean up NDDC

I remember before I became a governor, that time I was a junior lawyer, I took my car from Lagos to my town, but I could not reach the place. I had to park my car in Ikot Ekpene, which is next to my village, and about three and half kilometres. I spent five days and when I was going back to Lagos, I took okada to Ikot Ekpene and I returned to Lagos.

Like I have always said that if God gave the opportunity, I would change the narratives, and now, God has given the opportunity. I listened to what people were saying.

As the Minister of the Niger Delta, I want to see a Niger Delta region where employment opportunities are created for the people. I want to see major bridges connecting Okrika to Yenegoa. I want to see NDDC specialist hospital.

As the minister of the Niger Delta, I am committed to those objectives and I am working towards them. But I can’t achieve all these if the only parastatal under my ministry, NDDC, still remains the way we all know it. I am not a fugitive from reality, people used to pretend that such does not exist, but I will not.

I know as a governor, I didn’t like NDDC, I know as the minority leader, I did not like the NDDC because of most things that were going on there. The major projects there are not the projects that can turn the life of the people around. They believed in the projects that would put money in peoples’ pockets. They are more interested in retreats, training and re-training. They supply equipment to hospitals that they do not need.

They started three specialist hospitals, one in Port Harcourt, one in Ondo and up till now, they have not completed them. I like to see an NDDC that has its international headquarters where people can come and negotiate. I like to see an NDDC with a balance sheet that is careful of going to everyman and it will fall that will develop the Niger Delta region. That is the agreement we had with the International Food and Agricultural Development (IFAD) to give $173m for farming and request for $5m as the counterpart funding but that was not possible, it was thwarted by the budgeting process. I want an NDDC where the final budget that comes out will be the one that will bring infrastructural development to the region.

 

A cesspool of corruption

What happens today is that if the National Assembly passed nine items, Health, N55m, education, maybe N50m but you don’t know the nitty-gritty but when people go and sit down and try to balkanise it, they can put 100m for the three special hospitals and if it was N10m, the balance of N9.9m they will put into the supply of project. That means that such project has failed.

For 19 years, we can’t point out one project, we cannot point out one industry from the NDDC, and we cannot point one hospital from the NDDC. What we can point is the cash probably in the pockets of those who have had the opportunity. But for me, I want to see the total turn around. When we finish the forensic audit, it is not meant to witch hunt anybody, but it is meant to reposition the NDDC.

 

Fraud and contracts

In the NDDC one of the things we have done is that, since I became a minister, I have not given out a contract but I only have been involved in the execution of two contracts.

The first contract was the appointment of the forensic auditor and off course; the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved that. The second contract was the COVID-19 intervention of the NDDC. I didn’t know I will meet you here (referring to the journalists), I would have brought the list of what was being supplied in the nine states of the region.

 

 Allegations of missing money

About the story you heard about the missing money. Money could have been missing in those days in the NDDC when they had over 311 accounts across all banks in Nigeria and when they had the culture of foreign accounts. But today, they have one only account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because of the TSA. It is no longer possible for somebody to go to the CBN and take out N40bn without a trace. I am aware when you are coming to a commission, you will inherIt both the liability and the asset. And in the case, their liability included a pile up of debt to the tune of over 2trillion naira. Sometimes, people do the job and they are not paid, and in some other instances, those who were paid, did not do the job. And those who have the papers in their hands, they did not perform but they have signed the contract. That means they have indulged in what is called contingent liabilities.

So, I want to see the NDDC with a clean balance sheet. That is it, the forensic audit will throw it up, that is, which one was laid, which one was not laid. Who collected money that did not execute the job, who has money to refund, who has the job to go back and do.

Even when they announced the forensic audit, over 70 contractors have gone back to site. Today in the Niger Delta, people have seen over 50 completed roads in the in the last six months because of the fear of the forensic audit,

People who collected money in 2004, 2006. I know about a man who came to my office that he was given money to supply fingerling in billions, that the fingerlings are ready. But unfortunately, we can’t take fingerings without the fish pond. So, I asked him if is it possible to sell the fingerings and bring the money.

 

YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

SUSPENDED former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, avoided his re-arrest on Thursday for his decision to remain in the official residence of the EFCC chairman despite being suspended and another acting chairman named for the commission… Read Full Story
The fate of the embattled Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, was sealed on Friday night following the gale of retirement announced by the National Assembly Service Commission… Read Full Story
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 600 new cases of COVID-19 in the country. The 600 new cases brought the nation’s confirmed COVID-19 infection cases to 35,454. The NCDCmade this known via its verified Twitter handle on Friday… Read Full Story
THE Federal Government and West African Examination Council have agreed to shift the date of West African Senior School Certificate Examination from the August 4 to September 5, 2020, earlier announced by… Read Full Story 
The face-off between the National Assembly, Management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and its Acting Managing Director, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei,  over the probe of over ?81.5bn expenditure within five months assumed another dimension on Friday, as the House of Representatives Committee gave… Read Full Story
Earlier, Mr Johnson Kolawole accused that the IMC of the NDDC of gross abuse of budget… Read Full Story
THE apex Igbo cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has urged the Federal Government to call to order the Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen in the country, over their incessant, unguarded and provocative statements and threats capable of setting the country ablaze… Read Full Story
It is like we do not have a president. People have also thought that the man there is not the real person. They have also said that if he is the real person, he has no say in what is going on in the affairs of Nigeria. People believe that there is a cartel that is ruling this country. Our belief then was that it was Abba Kyari… Read Full Story
THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Kogi State command on Friday made a major breakthrough as it intercepted substances suspected to be cocaine meant for Boko Haram.  NDLEA also intercepted other hard drugs suspected to be meant for insurgents terrorising the country in the North East… Read Full Story
The National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) has formally approved the appointment of five management team of National Assembly that will steer the affairs of the Institution, a sequel to the exit of the embattled Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Mohammed Sani-Omolori… Read Full Story
Nollywood actor and comedian, Williams Uchemba in a recent video on his Instagram page, has admonished Nigerians to be upright and avoid criminal activities that can mar the country›s image as he shared emotional and inspirational stories, citing himself as an example… Read Full Story
As chaos and corruption continue to careen out of control in Nigeria, thought of three emergent— and progressively worsening—problems fill me with deep existential anxieties about Nigeria, particularly for the next generation of Nigerians… Read Full Story
If boys in my school see me coming, they always take to their heels because I don’t take nonsense! You try to play rough with me and I warn you once, you didn’t hear, warn you a second time, you also didn’t hear, what I will do to you if you come near me the third time, you won’t like it… Read Full Story
AUTHORITIES of the National Theatre have confirmed that residents of Lagos State currently make a living operating fun spots and relaxation joints on the premises of the premier theatre centre would soon be ejected to give way to a hotel, which will be part of the makeover by Nigerian bankers who were recently… Read Full Story
Many people want to experience great marriage in life. However, they are not making the right efforts to make it happen, either ignorantly or deliberately. They keep blaming the devil for the happenings in their marriages. Or better still, they keep blaming others, except themselves. But, the truth of the matter is… Read Full Story
You might also like
Comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More