By Gbenga Abulude
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has denied accusing members of the national assembly of benefiting from contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The minister who made a visit to the National Assembly, on Tuesday, made the denial while fielding questions from journalists after a meeting with the acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Olatunde Ojo.
The assembly was on recess and will resume on Tuesday, 29th September, 2020.
Read also: NDDC Probe: Over N600M Allegedly Paid By Akpabio, IMC For Media Cover-up, Coalition Reveals
Recall that Akpabio in July, during one of the sessions of the NDDC Probe of alleged mismanagement of N81.5 billion by the commission, the minister who was being interrogated by the House of Representatives committee said some members of the National Assembly were beneficiaries of contracts awarded by the commission.
The statement angered not only members of the committee but was a form of indictment on the Senators and Honourable members of the National Assembly.
Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, charged the minister who was also former Senator to name the lawmakers that benefitted from such contracts or face the “wrath of the house”.
Akpabio went ahead to publish the names of beneficiaries some of which included Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Chairman of the Senate Committee on NDDC, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Senate Committee Chairman on Public Accounts, and Senator James Manager, representing Delta South Senatorial District.
But in a swift rebuttal of the allegation, the Senators denied and lambasted Akpabio of attempting to draw the attention of the public away to the real issue which is the fraud that was uncovered in the NDDC, and his inability to supervise the operations of the NDDC.
Now, in response to the question fielded by the journalists on Tuesday, bothering on the peace talk being initiated, and if Akpabio has decided to exenorate the lawmakers who allegedly collected 60% of the contracts in NDDC, the minister in a face-saving denial posture responded: “No! no! no! y You are wrong!
“That was not what the honourable Speaker demanded. The Speaker wanted to know whether there was undue influence from any section of the National Assembly in respect of the ontracts in the NDDC.
“He (Speaker) did not say whether they were contractors, so I’m hearing it from you”.
Akpabio also noted he would be back to the assembly as soon as the lawmakers return from their recess.
He said, “This is like homecoming and the national assembly ought to have resumed today (Tuesday). They postponed it, so I intended that as soon as the resumption takes place, I am here.
“It is part of my effort to support the president’s decision that there must be a much more cordial relationship between the executive and legislature.
“In fact, the president recently set up a tripartite committee made up of the party (APC), the national assembly and the executive to ensure oneness because we are running one government.
“The former minority leader said the current government wants to leave a legacy for Nigerians, adding that “we cannot do this if all the arms of government are not cooperating.”