by Linda Ikeji
The executive director of projects at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Cairo Ojougboh, says Nigeria will break if the commission releases the list of highly placed Nigerians who have benefitted from contracts awarded by the commission.
The NDDC has been in the spotlight after the National Assembly launched an investigation into allegations of financial recklessness in the commission. The investigation took a different turn when the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, accused members of the National Assembly of being the largest beneficiaries of contracts awarded by the Commission.
Peter Nwaoboshi, senate committee chairman on NDDC; Matthew Urhoghide, senate committee chairman on public accounts, and James Manager, senator representing Delta South were some of the beneficiaries listed by the minister. The Senate and the National Assembly have also denied the allegations of its members benefitting from the contracts awarded by the commission.
In an interview with Vanguard, Ojougboh said Nwaoboshi and Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC, and the rest of the National Assembly “are culpable” in the sleaze contracts. He said Nigeria will break if the full list of beneficiaries of contracts is released.
“The National Assembly is culpable. At the end of the forensic audit, you will see members of the national assembly. A senator came and said that in the list of 2016 they brought, that he had only six contracts, I said no, that he had more. What he didn’t know is that we did not release the list for 2017 and the one for 2019. If we release it this country will break.
“Oh, because of the people looting, the calibre, the names and people looting the NDDC. And who engineers it? The chairmen of the NDDC in the senate and house of representatives in the national assembly.” he said
Ojougboh said the N51 million spent by the acting managing director of the commission was their ”security vote”.
“My MD feeds 100 policemen every day and in Port Harcourt as an executive of NDDC, you need security more than anything, till tomorrow, you know of it. When they are sending these policemen, the instruction is to feed them, cater for them, that is what is in the letter the police hierarchy sends,” he said
So people are talking about 51 million of imprest for the MD, it is a security vote, it’s not for his personal pocket, the money does not go to the MD’s account.
Myself, N18 million, it does not go to my account, it goes for security and other expenses and it is retired, there is no fraud in it.”
On the N3.14 billion spent on COVID-19 relief for staff during the pandemic, the NDDC director said
“They are talking about COVID-19 payment, the federal government is given every citizen N30,000 each, do you know how much the federal government has spent? The CBN and many other corporations have been giving COVID-19 allowances, which are within their purview, just like NDDC did.
In the national assembly, each of the senators got N20 million, while the house of representatives members got N15 million for COVID-19 from the national assembly.” he said