Akpabio denies accusing Nat’l Assembly members of NDDC contracts fraud
By Tordue Salem
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, Tuesday, denied that he accused members of the National Assembly of fraud concerning contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
The minister had, during an investigative hearing at the House of Representatives, claimed that 60 percent of NDDC contracts went to the federal lawmakers.
However, as the House threatened to initiate a criminal complaint of perjury and explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit against him, Akpabio denied he ever referred to members of the 9th House of Representatives as beneficiaries of contracts in NDDC.
He noted that NDDC was yet to fully implement any budget since the commencement of the 9th National Assembly.
Also, Akpabio while responding to questions after a visit to the acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Olatunde Ojo, said the misunderstanding between him and lawmakers was caused by mischief-makers.
On the peace talks being initiated and whether he had resolved to exonerate the lawmakers, who allegedly collected 60 percent of the contracts in NDDC, Senator Akpabio said: “No no no, you are wrong.
“That was not what the Speaker demanded. The Speaker wanted to know whether there was undue influence from any section of the National Assembly in respect of contracts in the NDDC.
“He (Speaker) did not say whether they were contractors. So I’m hearing it from you.”
On why he was at the Nationa Assembly complex, Akpabio explained, “I am a Senator. Seeing me in the National Assembly should not be a surprise as a former Minority Leader and a Senator, and I believe that I’m a Senator for life.
“So nobody will refer to me as Governor Akpabio, but they refer to me as Senator Akpabio. This is like homecoming and the National Assembly ought to have resumed today (Tuesday). But they postponed it; so I intended that as soon as the resumption takes place, I am here
“It’s 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.
“It is important that we all remember that whatever we do, we want to leave a legacy for Nigeria and we cannot do this if all the arms of government are not cooperating.
“So far, I believe that whatever disagreement that could have occurred between my own ministry and the National Assembly must have been as a result of mischief and that mischief must be put to rest so that we can work in one accord for the sake of the nation.”
Written by Kartia Velino