The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has indicated that the Federal Government was opening a new record for contractual workers who were mobilized for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) projects but failed to return so as to resumed work immediately.
The Akwa Ibom ex-governor, who made the disclosure while receiving previous agitators in the state at the end of the week in Abuja, plagued to re-position the interventionist agency by improving life for the individuals of the district, stating that he would not be prevented by the “campaign of calumny by faceless individuals who have benefitted over the years from the NDDC.”
He regretted that a lot of money had been given to the commission over the years yet “nothing equivalent is on the ground.”Akpabio alleged that some of the people in government were frightened by the forensic audit directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, maintaining that he was committed to enthroning responsibility and great administration at the organization.
He pledged that all ex-agitators would be captured in the Presidential Amnesty Program (PAP) and other empowerment projects of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The minister emphasized his pledge to make the oil-rich zone progressively visible to the foreign investors, and he disclosed that some industries had been marked for the region. He charged the youth on viable economic ventures like palm oil high-tech garment industries and productive agriculture exports through the amnesty project.
Earlier, the coordinator of the ex-agitators, Alfred Etuk, lauded minister for his leadership, pledging partnership for sustainable peace and development in the region. Besides, the minister has dismissed any insinuation that he collected money from an erstwhile chief executive of the agency, Isima Ekere, or any other individual.
He described the allegation as “spurious and part of the conspiracy of those who have been milking the resources meant for the development of the Niger Delta for the past 19 years.”
In a statement made yesterday, the minister stated: “It is part of their effort to frustrate the forensic audit of the accounts of the NDDC ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari. I did not receive any kobo from anyone in the NDDC or any other agency of government and would want anyone who has any claim to the contrary to come out openly to lay the fact bear before the public.”
In addition, the Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition (NDCSC) has encouraged President Muhammadu Buhari to mandate anti-graft agencies to probe the award of water hyacinth contracts by the agency.
Anyakwee Nsirimovu, the chairman, said the call has become imperative owing to “ alleged existential fraud and corruption associated with the award of the contracts.” However, a group, Niger Delta People Confederation (NDPC) yesterday rejected the interim committee set up by the minister.
In addition, they also demanded his removal, accusing Akpabio for interfering with the affairs of the NDDC. The group’s Coordinator-General and Secretary-General, Iyamu Osaro Culture, and Ovie Kenneth, expressed this in a statement over the weekend at the end of the meeting.
The NDPC accused the organization of the three-man committee by the minister, urging the disbandment of the forensic audit panel, alleging that it was self-serving.
As indicated by the group, “we are not against the forensic audit of NDDC as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, but let the process be credible.”
Akpabio had a week ago bemoaned the “corruption and political interference disrupting the original purpose of setting up the NDDC.”