By Reuben Nwankwo
Obong Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs
It has come to the limelight that the much publicised N40 billion fraud allegation in Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC is false and a fabrication of those fighting the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affarirs, Obong Godswill Akpabio and Interim Management Committee IMC of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and want them sacked.
This is the finding of a team of journalists led by Instant Africa Magazine investigating the weighty allegations being levelled against IMC of NDDC which have prompted both chambers of National Assembly NASS to summon the Minister, call for probe of the IMC of NDDC as well as form attack instrument for some groups calling for the removal of the Minister.
According to documents made available to the team of journalists by NDDC management, the total amount of money released to the IMC is N33 billion and it is from there that the commission has been paying salaries, allowances, over-head expenses necessary to keep .the organization running. The fraud allegation is therefore a false alarm.
“We wish to state that there is no N40 billion fraud in NDDC. As stated last week, the total sum received by the IMC is N33 billion, out of which it has spent N22 billion. The expenditure includes payment of staff salaries, service providers debts and contractual debts of N50 million and below.” It stated.
“The questions are: Can N40 billion get stolen when it did not exist? Is the payment of staff salaries and benefits, an act of corruption? Should poor helpless contractors who worked for the Commission and were being owed for more than five years not be paid sums as low as N1 million?” the source added
“The Commission concedes that the National Assembly has a constitutional right to investigate its operations, if and when it deems it necessary. However, we find allegations, which have no substance and serve no purpose other than generating adverse newspaper headlines unhelpful. These baseless allegations pose grave threat to the success of the forensic audit of the NDDC, directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, following widespread request by stakeholders, including Governors of the Niger Delta States.
“It is on record that President Buhari directed that the NDDC forensic audit, which has been widely applauded as a crucial move and the only process that can cleanse NDDC, be overseen by the IMC. However, jittery perpetrators and beneficiaries of the old order that almost killed the NDDC have been relentlessly ascribing all manner of spurious misdeeds to the IMC in their selfish bid to hang the IMC and stultify the forensic audit.
The document further stated “We welcome the inquiry and invite the public to patiently wait for its outcome. In addition, we insist that the NASS session with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the IMC be an open one. We are ready to defend our activities. In order to put these matters to rest, we are asking for a public hearing televised live so Nigerians can directly appreciate the hard work and determination of the present IMC to make the Commission fit for purpose”.
This will also provide the public an opportunity to know the truth about what is going on in NDDC. It will enable them see through the charade of unceasing false allegations designed to truncate the forensic audit of the NDDC.
Further the statement pointed people it described as ‘aggrieved culprits and receivers of the longstanding plunder of the Commission’s resources that are ‘extremely perturbed with some recent decisions of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the IMC’ as being behind the false allegations expressing the determination of IMC to ensure the success of the forensic audit of NDDC.
“No amount of malicious and selfish campaign to stand truth on its head will dissuade the IMC from delivering on its mandate. The great people of the Niger Delta – and all other well-intentioned stakeholders – should please disregard unfounded allegations and rest assured that the forensic audit is on course, to pave the way for the birth of a stronger and more responsive NDDC.” It concluded.