Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has opened more cans of the worm, with his disclosure that the previous administration at Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, awarded N6 billion contracts for fingerlings without any designated fish ponds to deliver them.
Meanwhile, a group of militants in Niger Delta under the auspices of the Joint Revolutionary Council, JRC, yesterday, expressed its support for Akpabio, saying findings by it showed that National Assembly was after him because he refused the lawmakers from continuing their plundering of NDDC.
NDDC awarded N6bn fingerlings contracts without fish ponds —Akpabio
Akpabio, who made the disclosure in Abuja, while playing host to a delegation of members of Petrol Station Owners Association, PESOA, Rivers State chapter, said this explained the unprecedented rot that characterized the previous management of the commission.
He said: “If you are from Niger Delta, you must be forced to ask certain questions. I was in this office when a young man walked in and asked me, ‘Sir, what do I do?’
“I was given a contract to supply fingerlings for N6 billion and I have N3 billion still in my account. I asked by whom, he said NDDC. Did I say when? And he said a few years ago but with this probe coming, I don’t know what to do.
“My health is not good and I don’t want stress. Sir, can I return N3 billion out of the N6 billion? I said didn’t you supply, he said they didn’t give him were to supply to.
“Fingerlings is something that you supply to fish ponds, am I right? Now N6 billion worth of fingerlings for fish ponds in Niger Delta and yet they didn’t have the fish pond but they wrote they are across 27 senatorial districts.
“I think they like giving out contracts without doing the job. I keep telling people I am not just waking up. As a governor, I know there was something wrong with NDDC but I couldn’t pinpoint it, I could see the symptoms.
“So when I became a Minister of Niger Delta, that’s when I found that the symptoms of failure that I used to see were all about corruption. It was like an ATM for people to make money to contest elections.
“Whether I am here or not, I believe we should change the story and the story can only change when we tell the truth. But a lot of people are not ready to tell the truth.“
N’Delta militants back Akpabio, forensic audit, slam NASS
Meanwhile, the JRC constituent group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, supported the ongoing forensic audit of NDDC.
Also, Niger Delta Enterprise Initiative, NDEI, said a forensic audit of NDDC should continue as planned to determine how the N15 trillion allocated to the commission in the last 19 years was spent without result.
JRC’s spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte, in a statement, said: “On the revelations at NDDC, we all know that if the Minister and the Interim Management Committee had agreed to a deal with the National Assembly like has been the case in the past two decades, we would not have heard the things we have been treated to in the past few months.
“Nothing will change at NDDC if the attitude of the National Assembly towards NDDC is not re-worked, re-calibrated, and re-jigged.
“If it will take an Akpabio to change that, then fine. Akpabio understands infrastructure development. Apart from King Alfred Diete Spiff, no other governor in the Niger Delta has met or matched the measure of Infrastructural development that Akpabio brought to Akwa Ibom State.
“That is without question. We will like to see that kind of infrastructure deployed across Niger Delta. In the years to come, he will be called to give an account of his stewardship at the Ministry of Niger Delta and NDDC.”
On its part, President of NDEI, George Kerley, in a statement, said: “In 19 years, NDDC has received about N15 trillion in allocation, yet there is almost nothing to show for it. No first-class quality roads or bridges or schools or related infrastructure.‘‘