NDDC probe: Reps fire back at Akpabio, say letter to speaker diversionary

July 29, 2020
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THE House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected the letter written to the speaker, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, in which he articulated his position on the contracts reportedly awarded to members of the National Assembly.

In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by the chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity, Honourable Ben Kalu, the House described Akpabio’s letter to the speaker as personal and an attempt to divert attention from the main issue.

The House said instead of publishing the list of members who benefitted from the contracts for the world to see, the minister chose to send “an irrelevant eight-paragraph private letter to the speaker regarding projects of 2018, which pre-dated the ninth House of Representatives and had little to do with the bogus claims he made.”

The House, therefore, reiterated that the minister was given an ultimatum to publish names and not to write a personal letter to the
speaker.

Consequently, it cautioned Akpabio to desist from spinning tales and directed him to go public as instructed and publish the names of the lawmakers as alleged.

The statement read: “Nevertheless, it will interest Nigerians to know that paragraph 3 of the minister’s letter fully exonerated the ninth Assembly.

“Also, in paragraph 7, the minister completely withdrew his previous statement about 60 per cent of the NDDC projects being awarded to members of the ninth Assembly.

“It is also instructive for Nigerians to note that the total number of projects in the 2019 NDDC budget was 5,959 out of which 5,416
were rolled over from 2018, which the ninth Assembly obviously had no influence or control over.

“Therefore, unable to prove his claims, the minister presented an ineffectual spreadsheet of only 266 projects out of which about 20 projects were attracted by past members of the National Assembly as constituency projects, not as contractors, but in furtherance of their representative mandate.

“The projects presented in the minister’s letter are not within the scope of the investigation and do nothing to address the leadership’s ultimatum for him to publish the list of names of the members who he claimed took 60 per cent of NDDC projects from January to May 2020.”

It added that the only mention of the chairman of the House Committee on NDDC, Honourable Tunji Ojo, in that letter was as to his alleged request for the complete payment of 19 contractors who had approached him with complaints over NDDC’s non-payment for their services.

“This is, however, an allegation which has been completely refuted by Honourable Ojo and for which there is no evidence linking him,” it stated.

The House urged Nigerians “to ignore the deflections of the minister and continue to ask the right questions as to what happened to the money of the region which has led to a gross disservice to Niger Deltans.”

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