Akpabio Name Beneficiaries Of NDDC Contracts At National Assembly

Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, has list the names of members of the National Assembly linked to some contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Recalled that the House had on Thursday resolved to sue Akpabio for alleged perjury and defamation of the parliament following his claim that the NDDC awarded members of the National Assembly 60 percent of contracts.

Akpabio made the disclosure in a document attached to his response to the threat by the House of Representatives to sue him over the allegations that federal lawmakers were the major contractors of NDDC.

Akpabio had made the claim while appearing before the House Committee on the NDDC during an investigative hearing on the alleged illegal spending and mismanagement of funds,

The document accused the Chairman of the House Committee on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, of inserting 19 contracts worth N9 billion into 2019 NDDC budget.

The letter by the minister reads: “I refer to the resolution of the House passed on the 21st July 2020 and forwarded to me on the same day Ref. NASS/HR/LEG/3/36/VOL.ll/O8 directing me to respond to the contents therein within 48 hours. 

I hereby respond as follows: 

The investigating Committee on NDDC refused and/or neglected to give me the opportunity to explain that reference to most NDDC contracts yearly being awarded since 2001 from the records allegedly to members of the National Assembty in both Chambers were done without the knowledge of the alleged beneficiaries. However, the two Chairmen of the Committees in both Chambers had adequate knowledge; 

I never referred to members of the 9th National Assembly as beneficiaries of NDDC contracts as NDDC is yet to fully implement any NDDC budget since the commencement of the 9th National Assembly. In fact. the 2019 budget passed in February and harmonised between the 4th and 5th of March 2020 was received by the Commission in the middle of April, 2020, when same was designated to expire on the 31st of May, 2020. 

However, it is pertinent to point out that the Clerk of the National Assembly forwarded a letter Ref. NASS/CNA/115/VOL.38/1175, dated 20th March, 2020, without attaching the budget details indicating that the 2020 budget of the NDDC passed into Law was being fonlvarded (copy of the letter is attached as Annexure ‘A’). This anomaly was brought to the attention of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee investigating a purported financial recklessness by the management of the commission in July 2020, though the first outcry was on allegation of missing N40bn which was totally untrue; 

It has always been known that the two chairmen of the committees on NDDC in both chambers yearly exhibit unusual influence to the exclusion of committee members and even the management of the NDDC in appropriating funds to details embellished in the budget after passage of line items at the plenaries. In the 2019 budget, the Executive Director Projects forwarded to me the attached list of 19 Nos. old contracts amounting to almost N9bn after tax, that the House of Representatives Committee Chairman on NDDC, Honourable Tunji-Ojo, insisted the IMC of NDDC must pay before 2019 budget details could be released to the commission (see Annexure ‘A1’). 

To show you some typical examples, herewith attached are documents showing nature of contracts amount of such contracts (in some cases), date of awards and beneficiaries some were awarded to the two chairmen of both committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively, serving at the period of the awards (Annexures ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’). However, due to the 48 hours notice, the forensic auditors could not sift through the thousands of files in their possession to provide more. 

The above explanation would have been made if the investigating committee did not shut me out from responding to the abuses on me by the lady representative called Boma. 

May I assure Mr Speaker that as a former Minority Leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I shall forever promote the ideals of the. National Assembly as an institution. Hence. I would not make the attached documents public, since I obtained the documents from the lead forensic auditors in confidence (find attached Annexures ‘E’ and ‘F’ being my request to the lead forensic auditors and their response). 

Permit me to explain that any reference to 50 per cent or 60 per cent during the investigative hearing was in answer to a question by an honourable member of the committee as to whether or not, a medical doctor could act as Executive Director Projects within the confines of the NDDC Act 2000. I answered in the affirmative, pointing out that the greatest project in the world today is COVlD-19 pandemic, which is medical in nature. Furthermore, I am made to understand that 50 to 60 per cent of NDDC yearly budgets are medical in nature. Therefore, it is fitting for a medical doctor to act as Executive Director Projects in these trying times. 

Please accept, sir, the assurances of my esteemed regards and do pass my explanation to my colleagues in the 9th Assembly who probably misunderstood my assertion.