By Ndu Samuel, Asaba
The Global Centre for Good Governance (GCGG) has backed the probing of fund by the Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under the supervision of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio by the Nigerian Senate.
The civil society group said they are disturbed by Akpabio’s alleged boasting to employ his wide range of contact to ensure that he is cleared of all wrong doing at the end of the probe
GCGG, through a press statement issued by it’s country director Dr.Chris Udoh on Saturday hinted that the allegations leveled against the Minister are weighty to be swept under the carpet as it is now a public knowledge that the IMC has been accused by several persons and organizations of engaging in fraud, looting, pillaging and ransacking of the scarce resources belonging to the Niger Delta Region.
Udo said that it is also alleged that the supervising Minister of the commission, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has equally been severally accused of executing an agenda of grievous larceny, greed and revenge.
Again he disclosed that Senator Akpabio and the IMC are alleged to be running the commission in secrecy while running away with money belonging to the region. It is our duty to seek clarifications and that’s why we are here.
He noted that the GCGG is an organization founded to ensure good governance in a society, and that makes it mandatory for them to speak up against any perceived betrayal of public trust as exemplified in the alleged financial scandal perpetrated by Akpabio and the IMC.
He disclosed the allegations leveled against the Minister includes that “That Senator Akpabio procured RODNAB CONSTRUCTION LTD (his alleged front company) to pay the sum of N100m in three instalments through its Zenith Bank Account on February 10, 2020 to militants as an inducement to issue threats to destroy crude oil installations so as to compel the former Ag. MD of NDDC, Mrs. Joy Nunieh to pay some phantom contracts he was interested in.
“That Senator Akpabio directed the IMC to complete the payment of N16b to RODNAB for construction of the head office building when less than 70% of the job had been done. That the commission was forced to cancel the previous contract to MARSHLAND NIG LTD valued at N6bn, re-awarded it to RODNAB Construction Nig. Ltd at an inflated cost of N16bn by the former MD Mr. Nsima Ekere in order to secure Senator Akpabio’s support in the last gubernatorial election.”
“That under Senator Akpabio’s supervision and direction, the IMC has made payments running into billions of Naira for phony contracts covering Water Hyacinths, Emergency Road Construction and River Desilting.”
“That the Minister directed the IMC to pay N3.8b for Cholera Vaccine and Lassa Fever Protective Kits the bulk of which were not supplied but a major chunk of the payment routed to him through his cronies.”
“That the IMC upon the directives of the Minister and without regard to the Public Procurement Act and before securing Presidential approval awarded contracts amounting to nearly N16b on the pretext of supporting the NDDC member states in the fight against Covid19.”
“That a contract for procurement of Personal Protection Equipment and other Medical Consumables was awarded to OSMOSERVE GLOBAL LTD on April 6 2020 for the sum of N4.8b and 55% of the contract value paid before partial supplies were made. That similar contracts were awarded to other companies such as TALES AND BUILDINGS LTD, AHR LTD, JULIUS DUNGA LTD and upfront payments of about N2b made to them.”
“That these contracts were awarded in a clandestine manner and payments made in violation of all known due process regulations and before Presidential approval was gotten to use only N6.250b to fight Covid19.”
“That the IMC upon a bogus and specious advice of the lead forensic audit consultants looking at the finances of the commission from 2001 to 2019 and in the usurpation of the express powers of a substantive Board of Supervision and in flagrant violation of the extant Public Sector Rules, mandated all Directors/Heads of Departments/Units who have held sensitive positions in the past to proceed on mandatory leave and Directors with two years or less left in the service to proceed on mandatory retirement.”
“That there is a deficit of professionalism and competence in the commission because of the power grab and revenge schemes of the IMC and the Minister. Competent Directors and Heads of Departments who questioned the abuse of processes were redeployed in large numbers to state offices and replaced with pliant surrogates and puppets so much so that contract award letters signed by the Head of Procurement Department are regularly disowned and disparaged by the commission. There are many other allegations too numerous to mention.”
He said not withstanding the weight of the allegations, the “IMC and the Minister have reacted by urging the public not to be misled by what they call spurious claims on unsubstantiated award of phantom contracts and unauthorized payments. Their exculpatory narrative is that disgruntled elites who are uncomfortable with the forensic audit of the commission have mobilized resources to demonize them. The Minister claims that only duly authorized and certified payments of N18b have been made by the IMC and that he would be glad to have the probe proceedings shown on live television”
He stated that they are worried by “the loud murmuring in the public space that the Minister has been boasting that he will be cleared of all allegations and commended for a job well done not because he and the IMC would not be found wanting, but because he is said to have perfected a scheme to compromise the entire process.”
Again, that “the Minister is said to have as his chief talent the uncanny ability to throw money and more money at challenges until they give way. He is said to be bragging that he will deploy his wide contacts in the innermost recesses of Aso Rock power base to call the National Assembly to order since according to him politicians are sworn companions of the wind.”
He added that “the members of the IMC are said to have assured their collaborators not to worry because the Minister has already “settled” the matter hence his statement that he would like the proceedings to be beamed on live television.
According to him “Another source of worry is the claim by those with insider knowledge that since the Covid19 contract scandal broke out, the IMC has been engaged in massive destruction of contract documents, displacement of files, alteration of payment schedules and persuasion/intimidation of some of their collaborators to disappear from the scene during the pendency of the probe so as to frustrate any evidential value they may offer. This is absolutely very disturbing.
While thanking the National Assembly for rising to the occasion by instituting a probe of the IMC, he urged them to “deploy all tools available to it to ‘follow the money’ saying that “ this can be easily achieved by collaborating with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and the Central Bank of Nigeria to ascertain the true amount of money that has been paid out since the Minister assumed his supervisory role over NDDC and where such money ultimately ended.
“The National Assembly should go a step further to determine the veracity or otherwise of the alleged reprisal and retaliation attacks on the staff of the commission who are being mandated to proceed on compulsory leave or retirement. The powers of the IMC to issue such a sweeping order must be reviewed in accordance with the provisions of the law. If the IMC lacks such powers, the order should be rescinded immediately and the IMC officially reprimanded. If this is the case, then, there would be need to review the engagement of the lead auditors on whose purported advice the IMC acted as they would have shown themselves as puppets in the hands of an unseen conductor.” He added