Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs
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NDDC Probe: Minister Akpabio rattled, demystified as he failed to clear himself of meddlesomeness

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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio, was on Monday rattled and demystified as he travailed in his effort to exonerate himself of allegations of meddlesomeness in the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

 

Akpabio, who was grilled for more than two hours by the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC, tried unsuccessfully to clear himself of allegation of taking over the commission and awarding and supervising contracts usurping the powers of the Managing Director.

 

Persecondnews correspondents, who monitored the proceedings, reports that the insistence of the lawmakers to get Akpabio to answer direct questions posed to him pointedly resulted in a shouting match.

 

The minister had been evasive most times until the Committee Deputy Chairman, Mr Thomas Ereyitomi, who presided over the public hearing after the Committee Chairman, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (APC-Ondo), recused himself, repeatedly asked the minister to answer the questions.

 

As a volte face and in a sudden outburst, Akpabio accused the lawmakers of “undue intimidation’’.

 

He said: “Mr chairman, the condition where we are in now does not require bullying, with due respect.”

 

Ereyitomi : “We are not bullying you, honourable minister. Answer the question directly. You know you are my leader, an uncommon leader from the Niger Delta, a lawyer, a former governor and senator.”

When a committee member referred to what transpired under his watch as minister as fraud, Akpabio was enraged and asked the lawmaker to withdraw it but was ignored apparently citing qualified privilege.

 

“Mr Chairman, I’m I protected, Mr Chairman, I’m I protected,’’ Akpabio said repeatedly.

 

The former governor, who had denied interfering or taking over the job of the NDDC MD, however, under cross-examination gave himself out when he told the lawmakers that he took contract to purchase 90 vehicles for the commission to the President for approval, the statutory job of MD under the Public Procurement Act.

 

The chairman queried: You have misled the House in the document submitted that you are not in any way involved in the day-to-day running of NDDC. Section 2 subsection 2 of the Public Procurement Act vests power to secure approval on the MD as the accounting officer.

 

“But correspondences before us show that the approval were given to you and not the MD based on your letter to that effect.’’

 

Akpabio, however, owned up to executing some contracts for road and bridge construction.

 

On the appointment of a medical doctor as the Executive Director in charge of project management by the minister instead of a professional engineer, Akpabio tried to rationalize it, saying 60 per cent of the projects in NDDC are medical.

 

The minister then descended on the former Managing Director of the commission, Dr Joy Nunieh, saying she did not possess the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate as she did not serve.

 

“The former Managing Director of the NDDC was relieved of her appointment when I received a letter from the then Chief of Staff (may his soul rest in peace) that she did not possess the requisite qualifications to be there.

 

“For instance, we have written twice to the National Youth Service Corps and twice they have insisted that she never served and that she does not have an NYSC certificate or an exception.”

 

Akpabio said the former NDDC boss was relieved of her appointment when he received a letter from the late Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari that she did not have the requisite qualification to remain in office.

 

 

 

Persecondnews recalls that Akpabio and Nunieh had been embroiled war of words as the woman accused him of sexual harassment.

 

 

 

 

 

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