NDDC Probe: Why Akpabio was accused of misleading Reps investigative panel
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio on Monday gave a vivid account of how successive managements of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) awarded multi-trillion naira contracts through contract splitting, over-pricing of contracts and other fraudulent acts. Senator Akpabio who stated this during the ongoing investigative hearing held at the instance of the House of Representatives accused successive NDDC management of engaging in fraudulent financial practices ranging from contract splitting with the view to below the minister’s approval of N1 billion.
According to him, the former acting NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nelson Brambaifa’s administration awarded contracts worth N1.1 trillion out of which the sum of N280 billion was paid out without the knowledge of the Supervising Minister which has the approval of contract worth N1 billion. He noted that the NDDC management, however, split the contracts at N250 million to evade the Minister’s approval.
Senator Akpabio who earlier accused National Assembly members of collecting “a majority of the contracts awarded by NDDC,” maintained that “We have records to show that most of the NDDC contracts were given to members of the National Assembly.” While reacting to the minister’s allegation levelled against the members of the National Assembly who allegedly collect the majority of the contracts awarded by NDDC, Hon. Boma Goodhead said: “You were a member of the NDDC in the 8th Assembly, if you were not awarded a contract why are you saying that you were aware that NDDC awarded a lot of contracts to members. How dare you?”
However, in his response, Senator Akpabio clarifying his submission said: “My honourable sister, that is why we have to change. We must not allow the two chairmen to determine the budget of the NDDC. I was a member like you. I did not know what was going on.” To this end, the minister called for a paradigm shift in the operations of the Commission, saying: “That is why we have to change the modus operandi. You must not allow the two chairmen of the committee to hijack the NDDC budget.”
While addressing the minister on the documents submitted earlier, Hon. Shehu Koko who accused Akpabio of misleading the Committee noted that section 20(2) of the Public Procurement Act, argued that annextures 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 showed that the letters of request for approval of various contracts were done between the Minister and Bureau of Public Procurement. It provides that: “the accounting office of any procuring entity shall have overall responsibility for the planning, organisation of tenders, evaluation of tenders and execution of all procurement in a particular responsibility. “Mr Minister, you have taken over the responsibility of the acting MD of NDDC because of your documents. You are the producer of this (document).
“Secondly, you are on air, you said they gave contract to the chairman of this committee in April 2019, and the chairman was appointed in November 2019 and you went ahead and said you people the NDDC gave contract to the chairman of this Committee in April which he was not the chairman of the Committee, he was not even a member of the Committee talkless of being the chairman. He’s not even a member of this House,” Hon Koko stressed.