AKPABIO & THE FORTY THIEVES A corruption infested trajectory of Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs

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AKPABIO & THE FORTY THIEVES A corruption infested trajectory of Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs

AKPABIO & THE FORTY THIEVES  A corruption infested trajectory of Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs
November 16
12:46 2019

…relocates to Port Harcourt as contractors forfeit 20% contract sum to Minister

By Okon Blessing

The romance between corruption and Senator Godswill Akpabio is akin to putrid odour and pigsty. Everything wearound the animative and smooth-talking Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio reeks of what Chief Assam E. Assam, SAN in his piece about the Minister once referred to as “Political sophistry”. With Godswill Akpabio, the only sure bankers are sleaze, subterfuge and brinksmanship.

It is therefore no longer news that the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs has relocated to Port Harcourt preparatory to commencement of payment of NDDC contractors on Monday.

Senator Akpabio has since Tuesday taken up residency in the Presidential Suite of Le Meridien Hotel in GRA in the garden city. Senator Akpabio has never betrayed his craving to dip hid sticky fingers in the NDDC till since assumption of office as Minister. To determine who gets what and under what circumstances, the Minister has taken this payment regime personal. To show how serious the matter is, he shunned the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday presided over by VP Osinbajo, in President Buhari’s absence.

A covert visit to Le Meridien Hotel in Port Harcourt showed a beehive of activities as NDDC contractors had taken up all available space in the premises and parked long queues of cars around the hotel. Many of them were seen tidying up documentation for the impending payments. A contractor who spoke to our reporter admitted that he is required to remit 15% of total contract sum due prior to payment or 20% after payment. He disclosed that he had already issued a cheque for 20% of the contract sum due to his company since he could not come up with the 15% option. He was awarded a contract for the construction of bridge which he has long completed.

Senator Akpabio inaugurated an Interim Management Committee (IMC) shortly after the Senate received a communication from President Buhari nominating members of the Board of NDDC. Senator Akpabio has not indicated a willingness to inaugurate members of the Board who have been screened. Feelers have it that he is foot-dragging over the Board’s inauguration because he’s not certain about their collective loyalty to his overbearing tactics.

The hasty and unlawful setting up of the Interim Management Committee is seen a sinister plot by the Minister to meddle in the day-to-day running of the NDDC. The Senate and House of Representatives have threatened a zero budget allocation to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs if the IMC is not disbanded. Senator Akpabio is adamant. He has a game plan – use the illegal IMC and make money! The IMC has been under tremendous pressure by desperate Senator Akpabio to pay contractors whose payments have been overdue. The Committee is making frantic efforts to effect a change of signatories to the Commission’s account to allow easy access to cash.

It was gathered that Senator Akpabio who recently obtained a favourable judgment at the Court of Appeal is desperate to raise a financial war chest to prosecute the rerun election ordered by the Court. For this reason, the Minister is insistent on deploying the crudest methods to mop up funds and save his political life.

As part of the grand design, a criminal enterprise has been devised to circumvent due process. The Minister has resorted to asking stakeholders and communities who desire projects on the NDDC budget to remit sums ranging from 10% – 15% of the cost of the project in the budget before approving same. Confirming this criminal plot, a close aide to the Chairman of IMC and who prefers anonymity disclosed that the Minister has ordered for a withdrawal of the NDDC budget which has already been passed so as to implement this grand scheme.

The inability of the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and the IMC to secure change of signatories to the Commission’s account may have informed his decision to circumvent extant financial regulations to satiate his unrestrained financial appetite.

Pundits have expressed doubts over Mr. Akpabio’s suitability to preside over any audit process owing to his integrity deficit. For instance, as Governor of oil-rich Akwa Ibom State, he was serially accused of profligacy and is alleged to have squandered over 4 trillion naira that accrued into government’s coffers through phoney contracts and numerous fronts some of them traceable to his wife Unoma and her relatives. Chief Assam Assam, SAN had accused the former Governor of leaving a crushing debt in excess of N500 Billion naira.

The erstwhile Minister of Finance Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla at a lecture delivered at Babcock University’s 12th Convocation event in 2013 was quoted as saying not up to 10% of resources accruing to Akwa Ibom State was spent on developing the State. This is because despite the huge resources, the State still grappled with issues of poverty, unemployment and lack of basic infrastructure.

It could not be explained where funds that were budgeted and appropriated for 31 industries promised by Governor Akpabio evaporated to. Many have also wondered why some of the “signature” projects purportedly commissioned few days to the end of his administration in 2015 were uncompleted projects.

With this high integrity deficit rating, it is easy to contextualize Senator Akpabio’s unbridled longing to take absolute control of the NDDC. His motives are everything but altruistic.

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