By Francis Udoka Ndimkoha
It was Mark Twain that was quoted to have said that “A lie can travel around the world and back again, while the truth is lacing up its boots.” This best describes the speed of light with which the lies peddled against the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, by no less a person than the Senate Committee Chairman on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, representing Delta North for a second time.
It is no longer news that the insistence of the Minister that the Forensic Audit instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari on NDDC must see the light of day has upset many interests in the Niger Delta, Chief amongst them being the various National Assembly Committees on Niger Delta. Every spanner has virtually been thrown into the works, to ensure that the audit is crushed. The desperation on the part of those alleged to have held the region hostage has reached an unimaginable crescendo as they daily churn out spurious lies, half truths, twists and turns through various media channels.
Recently, the Senate Committee Chairman on NDDC, Peter Nwaoboshi, peddled a heinous falsehood against Sen. Akpabio about a certain N300m naira fencing contract for a Polytechnic in Akwa Ibom State. It is important to begin by saying that every other allegation, founded or unfounded, against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Akpabio and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC, at this time, is part of the attempt to distract them from the Forensic audit which they are supervising. This fact does not, in any way, deify these personalities. No! They are humans, with their weaknesses. But they are so bent on sanitizing the NDDC, at this time, that they need our support to see through the forensic audit.
Nwaoboshi lied without recourse to the oath he swore as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to uphold the Constitution, while brandishing documents that have no substance in his allegations. It is surprising that a man who has found himself through the corridors of power for several years now is not done with such mannerisms as to deceive the public over what is a Zonal Intervention Project meant for Akpabio as Senate Minority Leader which has nothing to do with the NDDC budget as the Presidency, every year, makes provisions for the two Houses of the National Assembly.
That said, Sen. Akpabio has in response to the allegation of N300m contract, denied ever being an NDDC contractor, and insists that Zonal intervention projects of the Senate minority leader is different from NDDC budgeted projects. In real terms, zonal intervention projects of NASS are NOT done with NDDC budget. Project intervention which has a threshold for each Senator and each House of Representative member is a Federally approved Program of the NASS, annually. The Senators identify cum suggest the projects, in writing, through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In most cases Senators do not know the companies that win the contracts after the bidding is done, by the domiciling agencies. It is therefore shameful that a high ranking Senator like Nwaoboshi would seek to bring the sacred chambers of the National Assembly to riddicule. In his bid to stop the Forensic Audit of the NDDC, he has succeeded in undermining the integrity of the Senate and by extension, the Legislature.
Such is his unparalleled desperation that he has succeeded in corrupting the Clerk of the Senate and inducing him into an inglorious path in exchange for an extension of his Service year, a move that has generated knocks against the NASS.
In fact, for a Clerk of the Senate begging for extension with retirement at his door step to release such zonal intervention letters to Peter Nwaoboshi for a press conference, with a view to deceiving the public, says a lot about how far desperate people can go to sink a good cause. Sen Nwaoboshi lied, in this case, as those contracts referred thereto were Senate Zonal intervention jobs and none has been paid for nor performed, since 2017! It is important for Nwaoboshi to also come forward with proof of payment for the purported job and effectively link the contractors to Sen. Akpabio. The supposed fencing project began and ended on that piece of paper being bandied by Nwaoboshi, unless he has added it to the 1,000 contracts awarded to his front man, Nelson Agbamuche. Otherwise, the embattled Senator should bring proof of the contract award with the name of the company to which it was awarded. Nigerians are not gullible to believe the lying Senator who has failed to show evidence of payment made to any company belonging to Akpabio or his crony. Again, is there any proof that the job has been executed?
It has become clear that many Senators were deceived to suggest projects to be executed in their constituencies, and even though they were appropriated but were never executed. Why is Nwaoboshi desperate to cover the lies even before the Auditors are through? If payments were made for such jobs as he claims, is it not proper to allow the Forensic Audit expose the real beneficiaries? Is he afraid that other lawmakers will discover his grand deception over the years where he has used his position as Senate Committee Chairman to amass voluminous, phantom contracts to himself through his proxy? Should only one Senator be running amok on National Television over a Presidential order for a Forensic Audit?
Akpabio is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and requests for patience because in no distant time the Forensic Audit will expose those complicit in the failure of the NDDC and all who joined to impoverish the Niger Delta region. In any case what has N300m fence job got to do with N3 trillion naira fraud? Or is Senator Nwaoboshi trying to justify his 1000 NDDC contracts, as alleged by the Executive Director -Projects (EDP), NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, against him and his cohorts, Nelson Agbamuche and co? Mr. Agbamuche says the hundreds of jobs he controls do not belong to Peter Nwaoboshi who purportedly acted and continues to act on behalf of members of NASS, but what is left is for Mr. Agbamuche to prove how he won all the jobs and why he merits such quantum of jobs per year.
It is a view held in some quarters that the self-styled oracle of Delta state Politics and Senator Representing Delta North Senatorial District mistakes the Delta in Niger DELTA Development Commission (NDDC) to the effect that the commission is a property of Delta State where his brazen rascality is dreaded by those who deify him. Thus he believes he can turn NDDC into his own ATM with which he churns out emergency projects, even in time of no emergency. Nothing else explains how NDDC under his oversight supervision is committed to over 2 trillion naira concerns which has crippled the agency.
The NDDC, therefore has no regional project to its name. Only emergency repairs and aimless trainings, running into billions of naira as well as his annual contract for the supply of plastic chairs to schools. This contract which gulps over 3 billion naira annually is usually executed in his personal warehouse in Asaba and never reaches the selected schools, yet, NDDC pays in full for it. These and many more are part of sleaze already exposed by the forensic audit for which they can do anything to make sure it is never completed.
As a matter fact, Sen. Nwaoboshi who has pending cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) involving over 22 illegal bank accounts is also the same man who purchased The Guinea House, belonging to Delta State Government, a deal that has become subject of public outcry. This is not a man who should adorn a saintly garb and pretend to care about anything except that which enriches him.
Part of the inability of the NDDC to meet their mandate to the people is the penchant of Sen. Nwaoboshi and his counterpart in the House of Reps to sit on the NDDC budget for months into the fiscal year, until they extract some huge financial commitments from the management of the NDDC or phantom projects are padded into the budget, even if it means, as in most cases, supplanting meaningful projects in the region. This calls to question the source of the powers of a committee Chairman to adjust timeline for budget defense and presentation, as Sen. Nwaoboshi has been doing.
Just recently, the duo of Nwaoboshi and his House of Representatives counterpart without recourse to plenary, extended the deadline for the submission of the NDDC Budget for 2019, submitted it 5 weeks to its expiration, in order to ensure that it is not implemented for the selfish reason of forcing the IMC to pay for old contracts awarded by the previous Boards.
The Budget failure is simply because only two people sit in the comfort of their hotels to assign details of the Budget, thereby allocating huge sums to Training, Medical Retreat and other non physical and meaningful projects.
It might also suffice here to say that whatever financial misappropriation levelled against Akpabio or anyone else, in the context of the NDDC can best be exposed by the forensic audit. So why not let it thrive?
It is obvious that Nwaoboshi has so much to cover up as he is running against time. Could it be that he was elected as Senator for NDDC since he has in the past few weeks devoted so much time and resources to frustrate the Forensic Audit by throwing ceaseless mud at the supervising Minister and members of the Interim Management Committee?
Senator Nwaoboshi’s unlimited lies only confirm that he has been the unseen hand that has run the NDDC aground and has kept the Niger Delta region in chains under the Change Government.
Will the leadership of the National Assembly look the other way while a senator cause such grave injustice to a people, so rich yet so helpless? Time will surely reveal the truth.
Francis Udoka Ndimkoha is the National Publicity Secretary of Citizens Question For Truth Initiative.
Lawyer raises alarm over N15 billion NDDC payments
A legal practitioner, Mr. Godwin Ojeh, has lamented what he called corruption of self-enrichment in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Nigerian Senate , Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila to stop the payment of N15 billion to contractors.
‘’The Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission has thrown caution to the winds. It is about to pay for jobs not done. The committee is processing the payment of a whooping amount of N15billion on spurious contracts in the name of ‘’Desilting of Waterways’’.
He particularly decried the misappropriation in the management of the funds of the commission.
‘Is the 2020 budget of the commission ready? Where are they spending from? ’Recently, the Senate set up an ad hoc committee to probe the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over alleged mismanagement of N40billion. The Senate also requested for 2019 budgetary performance. The commission doesn’t have power to expend public money. There is no budgetary provision’’.
In a tone suggestive of his hatred for corruption, the Benin based lawyer asked the National Assembly and the executive arm of the government to stop the commission from wasting the country’s resources.
In a statement in Benin, Ojeh described the intention of the NDDC Interim Management Committee as ‘’a move that will endanger development of the region
‘’There is no greater danger to the development of the Niger Delta region than the payments for fictitious contracts’’ the statement said.
He also harped on the need for transparency in government organizations, saying ‘’it is necessary for the National Assembly and the executive arm of government to adopt a collective position on the allegation of corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)’’.
Credit: Ebireri Henry Ovie
ABEOKUTA AND ITS PERENNIAL FLOODING: GOV. ABIODUN TO THE RESCUE
By Elijah Udofia
Saturday, July 4, 2020, is a day the people of Abeokuta, particularly those living very close to the city’s waterways, would not forget in a hurry. Like in the days of Noah, the floodgates were opened and the showers came down heavily, causing floods of havoc that ravaged portions of the city. For somebody who was in the capital city of the Gateway State for the first time, the sight of flooded roads, with water subterranean enough to swim, floating household possessions, evacuated trees, washed way bridges and people congregating on high rise buildings, waiting for the water to recede, is something he or she will live to remember for a long time.
On that day, the heavens opened and brought with it sorrows, but thankfully, without blood. The torrential rain which started at about three in the morning did not stop until six in the evening, thereby thrashing hard on the ancient city for 16 good hours, non-stop. It is instructive to note that July of every year, has always been a period when the city experiences great flooding, occasion by torrential rain. Apart from the destruction of critical public infrastructures, mostly roads and bridges, it is always a time when those living close to the canals, have their hearts in their mouths. Hardly a year passes without these areas experiencing flooding which lead to loss of properties and in some cases, life or lives as the case may be.
The recent one affected mostly areas are; Isale-Oja, Kuto, Ago-Ijesha, Ijeun-Titun, Ijeja-Igbore road, Gbangba, Elite-Lantoro road and Oba Adeleye’s recreational park. One is however happy that areas like Ijaye and Isale-Igbein, which used to experience serious flooding had been taken care of, by the construction of Lafenwa, Sapon, Idi-Aba, Ajebo road and Onikolobo, Omida and Sapon road. It should be noted here that the issue of flooding in Abeokuta is not new, as previous governments, including military administrations, had course to contend with this menace. The presence of the Vice President, who came to inspect the extent of damage caused by flooding two years ago, is an indication that the issue is not a child’s play. What is disturbing however is that the damages caused are becoming more devastating, which calls for concern by all and sundry?
Being the head of a government that came to power on the popular mandate, the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, immediately the rain ceased on Sunday morning, ordered a team of government officials, led by the Environment Commissioner, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun took a tour of the areas affected by the flood and came up with a report to enable the government to respond accordingly.
As if that was not enough, the Governor, the following day, personally went round the affected areas to see things for himself. Prince Abiodun who was shocked due to the extent of damage caused not only to public assets, but to the property of the people, there and then, promised that his administration would assist them in mitigating the effect of their loss.
“I am here to look at the damage caused by the rain that fell on Saturday. Though I have sent my Commissioners and other government officials to inspect the damages, I decided to also come and see things for myself. I am happy that no life was lost, though you lost properties.
“I want to assure all of you who lost property to the flood that we will support you. In a few days’ time, government officials will come to see you to take down your names and properties affected, so that we can look at how to compensate you”.
On what the government intends to do to settle the matter once and for all, Prince Dapo Abiodun said the dredging of the canal that crisscrosses the State capital was on-going, while clearing of refuse in the gutters, was also carried out. He then informed the people that the government has assessed the damage caused to the roads and bridges with a view to carry out a comprehensive and proper channelization of the waterways.
“I want to assure you that we will repair the damaged roads, expand the gutters and bridges so that when rain falls, the gutters and the bridges would be able to accommodate the large volume of water. With this, the problem of erosion would be a thing of the past”, he promised
Governor Abiodun attributed flooding in the State capital to rapid development, besought the people to desist from dumping refuse or building structures on the waterways as these also contributed to the flooding. Collaborating the position of the Governor on the ways to find permanent solution to the menace of flooding in the State, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun, noted that regular dredging of the waterways, converting some old culverts to bridges as well as delisting drainages to allow free flow of water will be done by the government.
The Commissioner disclosed that dredging is currently going on at Isale-Oja to Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library up to Orange Valley View Estate, adding that the government is not only looking at Abeokuta alone, as dredging is also ongoing in 16 places across the State. Though the government ultimate goal is to find a permanent solution to the problem, in the meantime, a temporary arrangement according to the Commissioner, was going on at the sites, as allowing the affected areas to remain unattended to, will adversely affect the socio-economic well-being of people and adds to their suffering. The Commissioner appealed to residents of the State to properly dispose of their refuse and desist from dumping them on waterways, to minimize the effects of flooding.
For Alhaji Bello Mohammed, Secretary, Isale-Oja, Kuto, Community Development Association, his community has been experiencing flooding on a yearly basis in the last 10 years. He opined that proper channelization of the canal with an adequate drainage system, would bring an end to the flooding. Also, Mrs. Abike Awosanya and Abideen Musibau, residents of Ago-Ijesha, in Abeokuta South Local Government, said that they want the government to urgently find lasting solution to the flood problem, as it has affected their means of livelihood and make life unbearable for them.
Also bearing his mind, Mr. Raphael Anthony, a motorcyclist, who plied Ijaye-Kuto route, appealed to the State government to regularly dredge the waterways and expand the drainages system as the existing ones can no longer accommodate large volumes of water, during heavy rain. More so, Mrs. Florence Adegbite, an apprentice hairstylist at Ijeun Titun, opined that, “from what I am seeing, I think the State government would need help, particularly from the Federal government to permanently address this problem, a huge amount of money will be involved.
Though Government has a big role to play in bringing an end to the flooding issue, l observed with pain that the actions and inactions of the people are not helping in this regard. A walk through the State capital, one will see the non-challant attitude of the people as they dump refuse even at places where they are not supposed to.
Some simple questions I would like to ask are, what is refuse doing on road medians? Why do people turn gutters, drainages which are supposed to carry water to the canal, to refuse dumpsites? Why do people find it difficult to clear gutters, even those in front of their houses? And most importantly, why do people build structures on waterways that were invented/constructed to serve as drains to the river. All these questions need urgent answers, if the problem of flooding in Abeokuta, is to be addressed.
Now that Governor Dapo Abiodun’s government is showing commitment by putting in place measures that will permanently solve the problem of perennial flooding in the capital city, it is imperative for citizens to also play their parts, because as the African saying goes, “one cannot clap with one hand”.
Udofia, Head of the Governor’s Press Crew, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
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