Akpabio decries agency’s N2 trillion debt, stops payment of contractors
During a meeting yesterday with the management of the interventionist agency in Abuja, the minister accused the commission of paying money to ‘political youths’ in the region.
He stated: “People that you owed just N500,000 to N1 million are over 400 and they have been coming to the NDDC for over 10 years and the money has not been given to them.”
Chastising the agency for failing to leave up to expectations, Akpabio regretted that it had abandoned millions of the suffering people of the oil-rich area.
He went on: “I believe that the NDDC has not performed well. I do not want to say that you have failed the region, but I am saying that you have not performed well because when I saw so many of you looking so robust, I realised that at least you have not failed your families, but I do not know how far the people on the streets have gone.
“There are a lot of complaints all over, even the real youths of the Niger Delta who undertook just clearance of water have not been paid. Those that were paid are political youths, not the real youths.”
The minister said he had directed banks to stop payments for contracts undertaken in the last one month to enable the ministry to ascertain the incidence of asset stripping or otherwise, adding that a forensic audit had begun.
Lamenting the absence of a specialist hospital in the region, Akpabio said President Muhammadu Buhari is disturbed by the deplorable state of the zone and was eager to leave behind a legacy project.
Also speaking, the Minister of State, Festus Keyamo, said the ministry was determined to redefine the vision of the commission, maintaining that the NDDC had failed in terms of commensurability of projects.
He said: “It may not be business as usual again. We have become a laughing stock to outsiders, as people say that our own people are under-developing in our region.
“The commission for long has been used to enrich politicians’ pockets. You can no longer sit down in Port Harcourt and do whatever you like because we learned directors sit down in Port Harcourt without going to work.”