#NDDCProbe: Akpabio finally releases names of contract beneficiaries, but what next?

For as many who have been following the National Assembly probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) probe which has the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio at the centre stage, the latest update will certainly come as an interesting twist to the entire saga.

Former Acting Managing Director for the NDDC, Joi Nunieh, set the tone for the revelations on high level corruption plaguing the NDDC in a hearing at the National Assembly on the alleged mismanagement of N81.5 billion. Appearing before the panel, she denied that such amount was spent under her watch while accusing the Minister as the mastermind behind the corrupt practices at the commission.

Further investigation by the House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta indicted the interim Managing Director of the commission, Pondei Kemebradikumo and the Minister in an N81.5billion embezzlement scandal.

While undergoing questioning, Akpabio however, revealed that his Ministry had documents to show that members of the National Assembly were major beneficiaries of contracts awarded at the commission. He appeared to have backtracked eventually, following his explanation in a letter written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who had given Akpabio a 48-hour ultimatum to publish the names of lawmakers who were awarded contracts at the NDDC.

In an interesting turn of events, it has been gathered that the Minister did release names of some lawmakers who inserted contracts into the 2019 budget of the commission in the said letter,

The names allegedly listed by Akpabio include the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta-North), with 53 projects, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (representing Edo-South) with 6 projects; Senator James Manager (represnting Delta-South),with 6 projects; Senator Samuel Anyanwu (who represented Imo-West in the 8th Senate) with 19 projects as well as others simply identified as Ondo and Edo Reps.

A former NDDC Committee Chairman in the House of Representatives, Nicholas Mutu, who represents Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State, is also among those listed by the minister with about 74 projects, including various emergency road projects in Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states.

Judging from similar probe exercises in the past, the findings and revelations no matter damning amount to nothing because no action is taken at the end of the day. It is in light of this that Nigerians have taken to the various social media platforms to express concerns on the development, with majority of them demanding to know ‘what next?’

It is noteworthy that some Nigerians are calling for an independent panel without ties to the Minister or the National Assembly, with the aim of unearthing the extent of rot in the commission while a full investigation should be carried out on the list of lawmakers indicted in the Akpabio letter.

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