Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has warned that those who used their positions to loot funds meant for the development of Niger Delta must cough them out, no matter how powerful they are.
Akpabio said that last night that the era where powerful and influential elements teamed up with the staff of NDDC to take away cash meant for the development of the region was over and it was time to deploy whatever is available to work for the overall well being of the people of the troubled region.
This came as Rivers State government warned those involved in the crisis in NDDC to shun acts that would sabotage the good intentions of President Muhammadu Buhari for Niger Delta.
It also cautioned major actors in the ongoing saga in the commission to ensure that no harm comes the way of immediate past acting Managing Director of the commission, Dr. Joi Nunieh.
Meanwhile, rising from a meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, yesterday, leaders, and stakeholders of the state chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, expressed confidence in Akpabio, saying he is “competent, capable and adequately experienced” to deliver on the mandate of President Buhari, given his track records as a former governor for eight years.
Those who swallowed NDDC money must cough it out—Akpabio
Akpabio said: “We want to see major roads and bridges connecting major towns and villages and centers of development emerging across the nine states of Niger Delta so that people can breathe a new lease of life.
“I am not satisfied with what is happening in Niger Delta because the money that is coming to NDDC is being hijacked by some people, who do not want the money to provide any form of succor to the larger society.
“We need a change so that we can use available money to complete the East-West Road before December, do some specialist hospital that can provide holistic health care for the people, and create jobs for the people.
“I want to see a new NDDC with a good balance sheet because, for 19 years, we lost everything to powerful forces who used the NDDC money to buy Limousines for themselves and families, leaving the poor people to continue in their squalor.
“For this reason, the forensic audit will show who got what and who did what with the money they received and I can assure you that all those who swallowed NDDC money will cough it out no matter how powerful and connected they are. It has already led to the recovery of money and houses, which were stolen before we came to the scene.
“The audit is meant to reposition NDDC and not to witch-hunt anyone. I have not given out contracts except the appointment of the forensic experts and COVID-19 test kits and equipment for the states. We assisted the governors financially to set up facilities for COVID-19.
“We have blocked all loopholes and all monies of NDDC are now in CBN and not scattered in banks at home and abroad as before.”
Nothing should happen to Nunieh —Rivers govt
Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim, in a statement in Port Harcourt also urged Akpabio and others involved in the investigation at NDDC not to harm Nunieh.
Nsirim noted that the state would not fold its arms and watch individuals harm any citizen of the state despite their political affiliations.
He said: “Rivers State government has viewed with concern, the recent developments in NDDC, in which the name of our daughter, Joi Nunieh, the immediate past acting Managing Director of the commission, has been dragged into.
“We hereby, call on those involved in the ongoing investigations in the NDDC to ensure that Joi Nunieh does not suffer any harm in the course of their undertakings.
“We wish to state categorically that the Rivers State government will never support any action that will prevent or jeopardize the laudable intentions of President Buhari to positively reposition NDDC and fulfill the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Niger Delta.
“However, we wish to state that while we are not interested in identifying with the present unfolding drama in the NDDC, we will not, however, fail to protect our daughter from actual harm or perceived danger.
“The state owes it as a duty to protect her citizens from danger no matter their political affiliation and we cannot fold our hands and watch anyone harm her or indeed any Rivers citizen.
“We advise those involved in the present altercations in the NDDC to thread with caution in their actions and utterances.”
A-Ibom APC stakeholders back Akpabio
The leaders and stakeholders of the state chapter of APC condemned in its entirety “the malicious, noxious and reprehensible statement issued by Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, calling on Akpabio to be suspended from office due to the probe by the National Assembly.”
The leaders in a statement by Dr. Emaeyak Ukpong, Obongawan Geraldine Etuk, Enobong Umoetuk, Victor Antai, and Etim Etim, blamed the 16 years of PDP government in the country for poor performance as it frittered away “our resources in various corrupt schemes, instead of investing in critical infrastructure and amenities in the country.
“Senator Akpabio has only been the supervising minister of NDDC for less than one year. Within this time, he has worked with the management of the commission to complete its new head office building, which has been under construction for 20 years and is working on the forensic audit of the commission which the President ordered.
“He cannot, therefore, be held responsible for the rot of the last 20 years which the forensic audit is intended to unravel.
“We are convinced that all the controversies surrounding the forensic audit of the NDDC are coming from persons who had perpetrated or participated in this lucre during the dark days of the PDP.”