226 views | Akanimo Sampson | July 14, 2020
Former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joi Nunieh, who claimed to have given the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio, a dazing slap for sexually harassing her, says no forensic audit is being carried out at the Commission.
Nunieh said on Monday while speaking with Arise TV that she slapped the minister because she does not tolerate nonsense, pointing out, ‘’only verification exercise is taking place contrary to what Akpabio said.’’
President Muhammadu Buhari last October ordered a forensic audit of the operations of NDDC from 2001 to 2019.
Buhari spoke while receiving governors of the states that make up the Commission, led by former Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State in Abuja. He said what is presently on the ground in the Niger Delta region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to NDDC.
“I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent’’, President Buhari said.
He, however, admitted that developing the Niger Delta required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands. “I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants”, he added.
While he said he will wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding NDDC, Dickson had expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by a poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by it.
He called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.
The Obasanjo administration created NDDC as an interventionist agency, in response to decades of complaints of neglect by the oil and gas region. The government gave the agency the mandate to develop the region.
On his part, the late President Umaru Yar’adua in 2008 created the Ministry of Niger Delta and made the NDDC an agency under it. But the agency has little to show for the billions of naira it has received in the last 19 years.
Most of the citizenry believe NDDC has failed in its mandate and has since become a platform for compensating loyal politicians. Its former heads have gone on to contest for political offices amid allegations they used the agency to raise political war chest.
Sadly, Akpabio may have deceived Nigerians when he announced early in February that the forensic audit of NDDC which President Buhari ordered, ‘’will soon begin’’.
Akpabio had claimed that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has assessed the firm which government has chosen for the audit and found them fit to be the Consulting Firm to lead the appointment of other forensic auditors for the NDDC audit spanning the period 2001- 2019.
The minister spoke at a tripartite meeting with NDDC’s Interim Management Committee (IMC), the lead Forensic Consultant and the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry in Abuja, pointing out, “we have received the approval of BPP to now commence the exercise.”
According to Akpabio, the next task was to work in collaboration with the ministry to bring in experienced and notable forensic auditors with an international reputation so that whatever report is produced will be accepted and enforceable within and outside the country.
Lead forensic Consultant of Messrs Olumuyiwa Basiru & Company, Kabiru Ahmed, during his presentation confirmed the readiness of the firm to commence the forensic audit and ensure that the Presidential Mandate was achieved.
Nunieh told the television programme anchored by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Reuben Abati, that contrary to what Akpabio want the public to believe, NNDC under her watch spent N8.00 billion and not N44 billion.
Continuing, she said as an Ogoni woman from Rivers State, the slap she landed on Akpabio was a direct message that she was not cut out to tolerate nonsense particularly sexual harassment and therefore challenged the minister to deny it.
“Why did he not tell Nigerians that I slapped him in his guest house at Apo? I am the only woman that slapped Akpabio. He thought he could come up on me. He tried to harass me sexually. Akpabio should tell Nigerians the real meaning of insubordination. I had to slap him because of sexual harassment. I am the only Niger Delta woman who can slap him like that.
“I slapped him. He tried to come on me. I am an Ogoni woman and nobody jokes with us. I showed Akpabio that Rivers women do not tolerate nonsense. When I was the acting MD, I stopped having meetings with Akpabio outside my office and his office because of sexual advances.
‘’He knows I am telling the truth. Why was he talking about my four husbands? Does he want to be my fifth husband? I don’t have four former husbands. He spoke on my dignity. That is why I am talking now. I didn’t say anything then because I handled him effectively”, she said.
Hitting on, Nunieh accused Akpabio of allegedly trying to inflate the budget of NDDC by giving her directive to include some projects from the National Refugee Commission in the budget of the NDDC.
She is also accusing Akpabio who dominated the affairs of Akwa Ibom State for eight years as governor (2007-2015) of using his girlfriend as a front “to take money out of NDDC”.
‘’Akpabio’s girlfriend is the one supplying diesel to NDDC. Because of that, they refused to fix our light. He also directed her to go to the National Assembly to insert a few things into NDDC Budget. She told me that Akpabio sent her to do that and I shouted at her to leave the place immediately”.
The daring Ogoni woman said she has instructed her lawyer to sue Akpabio for defamation of character, alleging further that the minister directed his Chief of Staff and some directors to write her memos requesting for financial assistance.
‘’Of course, I did not reply them. Akpabio wrote to me to put a list of projects from the Refugee Commission in the budget of NDDC. Refugee commission is another Federal Government Commission for IDPs. How do you tell me to put some of their projects in the NDDC budget when we have so many things to do in the Niger Delta?
‘’How do you explain that?”
Akpabio had appeared on the same television last weekend during which he made some damaging allegations against Nunieh, claiming that she did not possess any NYSC discharge certificate which made her unfit to head a commission such as NDDC.
The minister later veered off when he refused to answer questions of contract inflation and budget padding to attack the person Nunieh, alleging that the former NDDC big boss has no moral right to accuse anybody of infractions because she was involved with four husbands.
His response has been receiving knocks and condemnation from the public that are insisting on his being questioned over financial allegations raised against him.
The cat and dog fight between Akpabio and Nunieh began at the Senate public hearing probing alleged financial infractions and sleazes at the Commission running to over N40 billion. Already, the House of Representatives has opened a probe into alleged payment of N70.495 billion by the agency as mobilisation fees to 1,773 contractors between 2008 and 2012.
Akpabio has, however, told the Senate probe panel that he knew nothing about the expenditure at NDDC under Nunieh since she allegedly refused to brief him on the activities of the Commission.
But, Nunieh is insisting that the minister did not only engineer her removal for allegedly failing to follow his ‘’illegal orders but directed so many infractions’’.
“When we first came to NDDC, on the day of going for the inauguration, he (Akpabio) told me in the car that Madam MD, If you don’t do what I say, the same pen which I use to sign your letter, it will be the same pen I will use to remove you”, she said.
She equally alleged that Akpabio asked her to change the dollars in NDDC account to Naira, sack the head of the legal team, who is from the Northern part of the country, remove all directors, who refused to follow his instructions and also to implicate Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, chairman of the Senate Committee of NDDC.