By Dr. Mike Uyi
It is said that the greatest enemy of a lier is a man with a good and unforgettable memomry.
Such is the case of the accusers of the honourable minister of Niger Delta Goodswill Akpabio.
First and foremost lets get back to history lane to understand a little about the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC)
The Commission was one of several interventionist agencies established by Obasanjo governments in 2000 with the mission of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.
The NDDC was mandated to carry out the following functions by the Act setting it up. They are: “Formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger Delta area; conception, planning and implementation, in accordance with set rules and regulations, of projects and programmes for sustainable development of the Niger Delta area in the field of transportation including roads, jetties and waterways, health, employment, industrialisation, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications; surveying the Niger Delta in order to ascertain measures necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development and preparing master plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta region and the estimation of the member states of the commission.”
Others are: “Implementation of all the measures approved for the development of the Niger Delta region by the Federal Government and the states of the commission; identify factors inhibiting the development of the Niger Delta region and assist the member states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the Niger Delta region and assessing and reporting on any project being funded or carried out in the region by oil and gas companies and any other company, including non-governmental organisations, as well as ensuring that funds released for such projects are properly utilised.”
Not only that, the NDDC is saddled with the responsibility of “tackling ecological and environmental problems that arise from the exploration of oil mineral in the Niger Delta region and advising the Federal Government and the member states on the prevention and control of oil spillages, gas flaring and environmental pollution; liaising with the various oil mineral and gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution, prevention and control as well as executing such other works and performing such other functions, which in the option of the commission are required for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region and its people.
Nineteen years on, what is the scorecard of the NDDC? Abysmal! The commission is almost always in the news for the wrong reasons. The agency is simply a cesspool of corruption. At least, that is the impression many Niger Deltans and indeed Nigerians have about the commission. Below are some of the corruption allegations against the agency. In August 2008, President Umaru Yar’Adua ordered an investigation into allegations that the then Chairman of the agency, Ambassador Sam Edem, spent N1bn to secure the services of a sorcerer to employ spiritual means to enable him get contracts from the Akwa Ibom State Government. In August 2015, the then Auditor General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, said that at least N183bn that was meant for the development of the Niger Delta was diverted by those put in charge of the commission.
In July 2017, a former Managing Director, Nsima Ekere, announced the revocation of over 600 contracts worth N200bn. According to him, the rationale behind the action was because the management discovered that some of the contracts were either not properly awarded or some of them were awarded but the contractors had not yet gone to site. Hear him, “Some of the contracts were awarded as late as 2002 with some of the contractors collecting advance payments from the commission with zero work done at the sites. So, we terminated these contracts worth about N200bn, which is the first phase of our restructuring the commission’s balance sheet,” he said.
Just in October, the Senate said it was probing the award of the Water Hyacinth Emergency and Desilting Contracts awarded by the agency from 2017 to 2019. The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, made this known when the Director, Special Duties of the NDDC, Nosakhare Agbongiasede, appeared before the committee in Abuja. Urhoghide said investigation became imperative because the initial cost of the contract at N2.5bn was allegedly increased to N65bn.
On Saturday, October 26, 2019 on the Nigerian Television Authority, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said corruption and political interference had disrupted the original purpose of setting up the commission. He said the NDDC was noted for substandard and abandoned projects. He said inter alia, “We currently have about 12,000 abandoned projects across the nine states of the Niger Delta. If those things were completed, you can imagine that the area would have been turned into an Eldorado… I think people were treating the place as an ATM, where you just walk in there to go and pluck money and go away. I don’t think they were looking at it as an interventionist agency.”
When Godswill Akpabio was announced as minister of Niger Delta affairs ofcourse that sent a strong message to the enemies of the region and Nigeria as a whole, people who had turn the commission into ATM as stated clearly by the Minister knew that it was never going to be business as usual.
When you fight corruption get ready for corruption must fight back. Here are a few questions to ask those who are all of a sudden protesting against the Minister alleging him to be corrupt.
1) Who was the head of the commission when all the above listed corruption cases in NDDC were recorded? The answer is simple ,Certainly not Godswill Akpabio.
2) Where were the powerful over night PETITION writers for 20years of ransom by the cabal of OMPADIC ?
3) Where were the paid youths and untrained detective appearing on stage with strange facts and figures of anticipated fraud by the new messiah dislodged from the pinnacle of powers?
4) Where were the present gang up LEADERS when the only manifestos on ground in NDDC was how to sponsor VIOLENCE to supress any voice rising against UNDEVELOPMENT of NIGER DELTA?
5) Where were they when billions of Naira was paid as RENTS into private hands at the expense of nine Niger Delta states?
6) If AKPABIO WAS corrupt why did he not colaborate with those he met there?
When you want to lie please it shouldnt be around one who have good memory and one who dosent forget history easily.
Akpabio is the Man who is changing the story of NDDC for good.
A shocking revelation had it that a Director in the Finance Department owns a Plastic Factory from where school desks and chairs are produced and he can afford to make approvals to the tune of N40bn in a year? Worse is that these plastic school desks and chairs are not durable and can only last a few months.
But the man in question who was affected by the recent transfers of Senior members of Staff is allegedly one of the sponsors of the series of petitions against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
He and others involved in milking the commission have a huge financial war chest to prosecute their media attacks against whoever stands in their way, or tries to step on their toes, coupled with the backing of the powerful party cabal who allegedly paid their way to control the Committees in charge of the NDDC and the Niger Delta at the National Assembly.
This has lead recently to the Global Peace Movement international UK to show interest in coming to Nigeria after the pandemic for tour and assessment of NIGER DELTA.
It is worthy to note that Senator Akpabio had always handled any assignment given to him with courage and forthrightness and this was why his stride in Akwa Ibom State was described as uncommon transformation as he completely transformed the landscape of the state with landmarks projects like the Godswill Akpabio Stadium also known as the Nest of Champions and several roads network in the state capital and across the entire state when he was the governor of the state.
I want to conclude that the agenda to render useless, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, MNDA as well as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC both engines with which the federal government drives its developmental agenda can no longer be overemphasized.
The orchestrated plan by agents within the region working in connivance with other external conspirators, Senator Godswill Akpabio is leaving no stone unturned, his desire to get these development engines grinding again until the Niger Delta region experiences uncommon development commensurate with her resources.
*Dr. Mike Uyi is President General Global Peace International Movement (UK) based in London.