The Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio on Saturday said endemic corruption, lack of patriotism and the entrenched culture of patronage had crippled the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from delivering its mandate to the people of the region in the last 19 years of its operations.
Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, added that all these challenges informed the decision of the federal government to commission forensic audit into NDDC’s operations between 2001 and 2019, noting that the report of the forensic audit would be ready before the end of the year.
He made these clarifications on Arise News, a sister TV arm of THISDAY Newspapers Group yesterday, absolving himself of corruption allegations made against him by the NDDC’s former Managing Director, Ms. Joy Nunieh.
Nunieh had accused the minister of serial corrupt practices. She had alleged that during her brief tenure at the commission, Mr Akpabio repeatedly pressured her to take “an oath of secrecy” that was meant to keep her from exposing fraud at the commission.
Nunieh, who was relieved of her appointment after confrontation with the minister, said: “For instance, he told me to raise a memo to fraudulently award emergency contracts for flood victims in the Niger Delta. I would have been jailed if I had succumbed to Akpabio’s ‘oath of secrecy.”
Reacting to the corruption allegations against him, Akpabio advised the former acting managing director “to go to the hospital; see a doctor; get some injection and relax.”
Asked whether Nunieh was sick, he said: “I am not saying anything is wrong with her. But something is wrong with her temperament. You do not need to ask me. But you ask about four other husbands she married.
“She was not relieved of her appointment because of corruption. But she was relieved of her appointment because of insubordination. My ministry that supervised her wrote seven letters to her. She never responded. And then she said she was bigger than the Minister of Niger Delta.