The Niger Delta People’s Liberation Movement, has said the Niger Delta region has seen so much of confusion since the assumption in office of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Reacting to a call by six civil society organisations for the withdrawal of the presidential nominees into the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the group said it was clear that the Minister has other motives other than forensic audit in mind for wanting the Interim Management Committee, IMC, to “assume much more permanent status than the legally constituted board.”
It cited the case of the IMC’s plan to carry out projects as a confirmation of the hidden motive of the Minister.
In a statement signed by Oghenekaro Joseph and Belema Diri, the group said the Minister’s hidden motives are clearly seen by discerning Niger Deltans.
“We are joining the Hon. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and his media team to celebrate 100 days of confusion in the region. The region has seen more confusion in the 100 days than in all the years the ministry and the NDDC have been in existence,” the statement said.
The statement further said: “The Minister has hidden motives behind the IMC. If it was just for forensic audit, the IMC would not be having an Executive Director, Project who is even a Medical Doctor with the intent to award contracts or an Executive Director, Finance and Administration with plans to carry out financial transactions. It could just have been a committee of technocrats, not politicians, with no office, but with unfettered access to the commission. The mere fact that Minister Akpabio is carrying out as if he is the Managing Director of NDDC leaves much to be desired.
He was appointed Minister of the Niger Delta and not that of NDDC. He should leave NDDC for the constituted board to run it.”
The group said there has always been audits in the country, noting that the minister is making too much noise about an exercise that should ordinarily be a routine.
“If he doesn’t know, he should ask the Auditor General of the federation. Does a Minister or Permanent Secretary leave office for the auditors to be seen as fair. Do they appoint IMC for Ministries, Departments and Agencies just because they are to be audited? How will the new board interfere in the work of the forensic auditors and how will the IMC help the auditors?”
The group called on President Muhammadu Buhari to save the region more embarrassment by reposting the Minister, saying the Minister is not the best person to carry out any audit related duties.
“He was one of the Governors of the region in the 16 years of the PDP sleaze and has his hands filled from the public till. He cannot say he had no hand in the NDDC. Our investigation shows that apart from nominating people to serve on the board of the commission at various times, including nominating his brother, one Jeremiah Akpabio to serve as Special Assistant to a Managing Director, the minister has been beneficiary of several NDDC contracts through fronts and cannot go to the audit with the stained hands.”
The group said the idea behind the audit is perfect and commended President Buhari for it, but said “Senator Akpabio, however, is not the right man to supervise the audit. For someone who left several uncompleted projects, most of which he had collected all the monies meant for the projects to sound like a saint now is a ploy to use the NDDC to continue the life of sleaze which he is known for.”
The group also queried the credentials of the members of the IMC, noting that the Minister has clearly downgraded standards in the commission by appointing a political medical doctor as EDP.”