The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio has denied accusing lawmakers of collecting 60 per cent of contacts in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“I never referred to members of the 9th House of Representatives as beneficiaries of NDDC contracts as the NDDC is yet to fully implement any NDDC budget since the beginning of the 9th National Assembly.
“Permit me to explain that any reference to 60 per cent during the investigative hearing was in answer to a question by a member of the committee as to whether or not, a medical doctor could act as Executive Director project which I answered in affirmative.
“That the greatest project in the world today is COVID-19, which is medical in nature; furthermore, I am made to understand that 60 per cent of NDDC yearly budget is medical in nature, therefore is better for a medical doctor to serve as the Executive Director Projects,”
Akpabio made the clarification in a letter addressed to the House and read by Gbajabimila at the plenary on Thursday.
Recall that Gbajabimila had on July 21 given a 48-hour ultimatum to Akpabio to publish the names of the lawmakers and details of contracts awarded to them by the NDDC.
The minister had appeared before the House Committee on NDDC investigating financial malfeasance amounting to N40 billion in the commission. In the letter, Akpabio explained that the investigative committee did not allow him to explain what he meant when he made reference to 60 per cent contracts in the NDDC.
“As to the reference to 60 per cent of contracts, the investigative committee refused and neglected to give me the opportunity to explain that; I was responding to a question by a member of the committee.
“The Director Projects forwarded to me 19 old contracts amounting to nine billion naira which the NDDC Chairman in the house insist the IMC pay for,” he said.
Akpabio said that as a former Minority Leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he shall forever hold the ideals of the National Assembly.
He, however, said he would not make the entire document on the old contracts public as he got it from the lead forensic auditor “in confidence.”
Earlier at the plenary, the Speaker had directed the Clerk of the House to engage services of the legal counsel to sue Akpabio for perjury following his failure to respond to ultimatum about two hours before Akpabio’s letter was read on the floor.
He forwarded the letter to the House Committee on Ethics and Privilege for further scrutiny and legislative action.