The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, on Tuesday held a series of meetings with some stakeholders in the National Assembly over the ongoing investigation of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Akpabio was at the offices of the acting Clerk to the National Assembly, Olatunde Ojo; and Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, where he met with them separately behind closed doors.
Both the Senate and the House are investigating the alleged illegal spending and mismanagement of N81.5bn by the NDDC under Akpabio’s supervision as minister.
The committee had only laid its interim report in which it indicted Akpabio and the NDDC management, while the House had resolved that the panel continues with probe and present a comprehensive report.
The probe had taken a dramatic turn when Akpabio alleged that the NDDC awarded 60 per cent of its contracts to National Assembly members.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had challenged the minister to provide evidence, Akpabio had named some members, but the lawmakers had denied the projects listed against their names.
Emerging from the meeting with the National Assembly clerk, Akpabio was asked on the charge by Gbajabiamila for him to present proof of his allegation.
He said, “No, no, no, 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 contracts in the NDDC. He did not say whether they were contractors. So, I’m hearing it from you.”
When asked if he was going to meet with the leadership of the National Assembly, apart from the committees, Akpabio said, “National Assembly is National Assembly. We must ensure that there is harmony between the legislature and the executive, and that harmony has existed. In fact, we are just talking to the Clerk of the National Assembly that today, we have a better National Assembly, by implication the Senate and House of Reps, in terms of legislative-executive harmony and cordiality.”
Speaking on the clash between him, the NDDC and the National Assembly, the minister blamed it on mischief.
At about 3:25pm, the minister was at the office of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, who was not around.
Akpabio later met with chairman and some members of the House Committee on NDDC, including the spokesman for the House, Mr Benjamin Kalu. The meeting started at about 3.40pm lasted till almost 7pm.
Efforts to get Akpabio and Tunji-Ojo to speak on meeting proved abortive.