UNGUARDED ALLEGATION by Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Ministry, thrown at Nigerian lawmakers, at the floor of the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating NDDC’s reckless extra-budgetary spending, has been denied by the minister. He had accused the lawmakers of benefiting 60 per cent of contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
In a letter he sent to the House, Akpabio said: “I never referred to members of the 9th House of Representatives as beneficiaries of NDDC contracts as the NDDC is yet to fully implement any NDDC budget since the commencement of the 9th National Assembly.
“As a former minority leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I shall forever hold the ideals of the National Assembly and will not make the entire document public which I got from the lead forensic auditor in confidence.”
Akpabio further stated that he was misquoted out of context, in respect of his alleged 60 percent contracts awarded to the lawmakers by NDDC. He claimed that the investigative committee refused to give him the opportunity to explain what he meant; as he was responding to a question by a member of the committee.
Akpabio’s words: “Permit me to explain that any reference to 60 percent during the investigative hearing was in answer to a question by a member of the committee as to whether or not, a medical doctor could act as Executive Director project which I answered in affirmative.
“That the greatest project in the world today is COVID-19, which is medical in nature; furthermore, I am made to understand that 60 percent of NDDC yearly budget are medical in nature, therefore is better for a medical doctor to serve as the [NDDC’s] executive director of projects.”
Before Akpabio’s denial correspondence was received, Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, at plenary, Thursday, stated that the House has resolve to drag Akpabio to court over “committal of perjury”. The minister’s letter was, thereafter, read by Gbajabiamila. Akpabio’s response, he said, would be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to assess the merits of his new position.
Akpabio, had on Monday, threw wild allegation at the lawmakers at the public hearing of House Adhoc Committee investigating awards of contracts that has led to extra-budgetary spending by NDDC. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives, gave him 48 hours to name and published the 60 percent lawmakers who benefited from NDDC contracts. The 48 hours expired, Thursday; and Akpabio followed up with a denial of the allegation.