Government opens account for defaulting contractors to refund NDDC projects’ sums
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has hinted that the Federal Government was opening a fresh account for contractors who were mobilised for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) projects but defaulted to return the sums or resume work immediately.
The Akwa Ibom ex-governor, who made the disclosure while receiving former agitators in the state at the weekend in Abuja, promised to reposition the interventionist agency by making life better for the people of the region, stating that he would not be deterred by the “campaign of calumny by faceless individuals who have benefitted over the years from the NDDC.”
He regretted that so much money had been given to the commission over the years yet “nothing commensurate is on the ground.”
Akpabio alleged that some people in government were frightened by the forensic audit directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, maintaining that he was committed to enthroning accountability and good governance at the agency.
He pledged that all ex-agitators would be captured in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) and other empowerment programmes of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The minister reiterated his commitment to making the oil-rich area more visible to foreign investors, just as he disclosed that extra industries had been earmarked for the region.
He charged the youths on viable economic ventures like modern palm oil factories, high-tech garment industries and productive agriculture exports through the amnesty project.
Earlier, the coordinator of the ex-agitators, Alfred Etuk, extolled the minister for his leadership, pledging partnership for sustainable peace and development in the region.
Besides, the minister has dismissed an insinuation that he collected money from an erstwhile chief executive of the agency, Isima Ekere, or any other individual.
He described the allegation as “spurious and part of the conspiracy of those who have been milking the resources meant for the development of the Niger Delta for the past 19 years.”
In a statement yesterday, the minister said: “It is part of their effort to frustrate the forensic audit of the accounts of the NDDC ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari. I did not receive any kobo from anyone in the NDDC or any other agency of government and would want anyone who has any claim to the contrary to come out openly to lay the fact bear before the public.”
Besides, the Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition (NDCSC) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to mandate anti-graft agencies to probe the award of water hyacinth contracts by the agency.
Its chairman, Anyakwee Nsirimovu, said the call has become imperative owing to “ alleged existential fraud and corruption associated with the award of the contracts.”
However, a group, Niger Delta People Confederation (NDPC) yesterday rejected the interim committee set up by the minister.
It also demanded his removal, accusing Akpabio of allegedly interfering with the affairs of the NDDC.
The group’s Coordinator-General and Secretary-General, Iyamu Osaro Culture, and Ovie Kenneth, stated this in a statement over the weekend at the end of an enlarged meeting.
The NDPC faulted the composition of the three-man committee by the minister, urging the disbandment of the forensic audit panel, alleging that it was self-serving.
According to the group, “we are not against the forensic audit of NDDC as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, but let the process be credible.”
Akpabio had last week lamented the “corruption and political interference disrupting the original purpose of setting up the NDDC.”
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