Minister, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has assured the people of the Niger Delta Region that the outcome of the Forensic Audit and implementation of its recommendation, which would herald the inauguration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), would gladden their hearts.
Speaking at the Radio Nigeria morning interview program; Politics Nationwide, on Tuesday, Akpabio said, “let me assure my people in the Niger Delta Region that when the report of the Forensic Audit is received by President Muhammadu Buhari, and the NDDC board inaugurated, with guidelines based on the recommendations of the Auditors, we would all be happy for it because the Commission will become bankable and able to access international loan facilities for development purposes.”
He noted that the Niger Delta Region stands to benefit a lot from the outcome of the Audit because the Commission would be repositioned to be more productive, inorder to meet the yearning of the people of the region, saying” the NDDC after the Forensic Audit, would be more concerned with executing projects that would have direct economic benefits for the people, rather than embark on white elephant projects as was the practice in the past”.
On why the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has not been involved in the Forensic Audit of the Commission, Akpabio said, “the Audit has no criminal angle for now and that is why the anti-graft agency has not been invited to investigate its activities. We have not established any criminality in the process. If at the end of the audit and something criminal is unearthed, then the anti-graft body would be called in to help unravel who got what and who did what.”
On the emergence of Mr Effiong Akwa as the Interim Administrator of the NDDC, the former Senate Minority Leader said,” the emergence of Akwa was a product of the court and not an imposition as being claimed in some quarters. Some stakeholders in the region went to court and prayed for the sack of the Interim Management Board. The court, in its wisdom, sacked the board ordered that the most senior director should take over the running of the Commission. Akwa, at that time, happened to be the most senior director as the Executive Director, who was not affected by the court ruling.”
He noted further that “contract award in the region was highly politicized with no consideration for the immediate needs of the people. Projects that had no direct positive impact on the economic life of the people were contracted out and later abandoned. The result is the countless number of abandoned projects scattered all over the region. It became a matter of so much money in the region and nothing on ground to show for the huge budgetary allocation to the commission.”
He called on the Niger Delta Avengers to give room for dialogue between it and the government, saying,” the people of the region have all embraced Amnesty and dialogue in demanding for whatever affects them as a people, instead of confrontations. We need peace for development and that is the way to go.”