The Senate has called on the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to publish facts, if any, to substantiate their allegations on the payment of N1billion monthly consultancy fee to a company linked to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the agency, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.
Senator Nwaoboshi who addressed reporters through his Special Adviser on Legislative Matters, Luka Igbonoba, in Abuja, however accused the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio of frustrating the inauguration of the new NDDC board members already confirmed by the upper chamber by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He called on Akpabio to explain to Nigerians how the $91million and N6billion that was in the agencies coffers as it the time it was brought under the supervision of his ministry was utilized.
It could be recalled that the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr Gbene Joi Nunieh, had said that the Commission has suspended the monthly payment of N1billion to a consultant that collects money from International Oil Companies (IOCs), on its behalf.
“We have a consulting firm engaged as a collection agent. We have another company that also collects three per cent whenever money is paid by the International Oil Companies, IOCs,” Nunieh told newsmen in an interview.
However, Igbonoba asked the IMC to publish the facts if there is any such consultancy arrangements as well as the details of the company involved.
“Senator Nwaoboshi is challenging the IMC that if such a thing exists they should publish it. If they have the facts and records to to back their claims that Senator Nwaoboshi or a company linked to him is being paid N1billion consultancy fee every month by the NDDC, let them avail the public with the records.
“What are you hiding? Let’s know who the consultant is or who owns the company. I can tell you that everything they are doing is about protection of self-interest. Everything Akpabio cannot get he tries to destroy,” Igbonoba said.
He also described claims by members of the IMC that 1000 contracts were awarded to a Senator by the NDDC as pure lies.
“How many contracts do the NDDC award in a year that they will give 1000 contracts to one Senator,” Igbonoba queried.
He said that the failure of the Senate Committee on NDDC to accede to Akpabio’s overtures not to confirm the NDDC board nominees resulted in the ongoing campaign of calumny against Nwaoboshi by member of the IMC.
“The IMC wanted to perpetuate themselves in power. They lobbied the committee and its chairman as well as the Senate that the new board members should not be screened. But they refused.
“The truth is that if this country must survive we must adhere to international best practices and the rule of law in the way we do things.
“This is the reason for the campaign of calumny against Senator Nwaoboshi. They are now accusing him wildly of things unfathomable,” he said.
He said that the claim that the agency did not have budgets for 2017 and 2018 were spurious because records exist to show that the Commission had approved budgets for the two years.
He described the transfer of the NDDC from the presidency to be an agency under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as illegal.
“The annual budget for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is just about N23billion but Akpabio is looking for an elephant and he felt that that elephant lives in NDDC,” he said.
He however said that the leadership of the Senate is interfacing with the executive to resolve the matter.