Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, on Tuesday, said the present regime was committed to repositioning the Niger Delta Development Commission despite the grumblings being experienced.
The National Assembly has been probing the finances of the intervention agency with the exercise throwing up a lot of revelations.
The exercise had also thrown up counter-allegations between the minister and a former Managing Director of the commission, Joy Nunieh.
In a meeting with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, however, Akpabio who was asked to react to some of the accusations made against him by Nunieh said he would rather not discuss personalities but focus on the region.
The minister who promised to talk to the press at the appropriate time, said: “We are very determined to reposition the NDDC.”
The former Akwa Ibom State governor attributed the commission’s problem to what he called “years of endemic corruption.”
“The President is determined to be remembered as the President that cleaned up the place and I am committed to this,” the minister added.
He said the forensic auditors approved by the Federal Executive Council for the commission had started work with hundreds of documents made available to them and there was no going back.
The former Senate Minority Leader said the “grumblings” trailing the exercise were further confirmation that people do not like a change in the status quo.
He insisted that the forensic audit was not meant to witch-hunt but to reposition the commission.
He said as a stakeholder in the Niger Delta, he was personally not impressed with the activities of the NDDC while he was a governor and a senator.
He said that was why it remains one of his priorities after being appointed as the minister overseeing the commission to ensure that changes are made.
Akpabio said he would like to see the NDDC that will construct good roads, bridges and other infrastructure in the Niger Delta and operate from its headquarters rather than a commission that will be paying rents for offices and buying expensive cars for its officials.
He added, “l will like to see roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Niger Delta. I will like to see a region where employment opportunities abound; I will like to see an end to amnesty where ex-militants will have jobs and not be relying on stipends.
“I will like to see Niger Delta rice and water being sold. I will like to see Niger Delta specialist hospitals.
“I will like to see a commission that does not pay for hotels but has its own guest house; a commission that does not pay rent for its headquarters; a commission whose budget will cater for the people 100 per cent.
“As a minister, I am committed to these ideals but we cannot achieve them if a parastatal under me does not cooperate.”
On the alleged “missing” N40bn, the minister said, “Money could have been missing in those days when the commission has over 300 bank accounts.
“Now, there is only one account which is the Treasury Single Account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“So, it is not possible for somebody to go and withdraw money anyhow.”
He said since he assumed office as the minister, he had only approved two contracts for the commission.
He listed the two contracts as the appointment of forensic auditors and the COVID-19 intervention by the NDCC.
“Things must change. If you plant a seed, it must first die before it germinates.
“Change is coming up for the people of Niger Delta amidst the grumbling.
“We shall target things that concern the Niger Delta and will bring progress,” the minister concluded.