The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said that if it releases the list of those involved in looting the commission, the country would break.
The IMC has also accused members of the National Assembly of plotting to stall the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Executive Director in charge of Projects at the NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, who made the allegation while speaking to newsmen in Abuja, said that Nigerians would be shocked if the commission releases the names and calibre of persons involved in contract scam in 2017 and 2019, especially among members of the National Assembly.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC), meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, last Wednesday, approved the forensic auditing of about 12,000 NDDC contracts.
But Ojougboh alleged that the recent pressure by the National Assembly to probe the activities of the IMC was instigated by the fear of the forensic audit.
He said that the mission of the IMC to the NDDC and the Niger Delta region was to ensure that every Naira that had been put into the region through the commission was accounted for, and vowed that the committee would dare every odd to ensure that the mission was accomplished, not minding whose ox was gored.
Ojougboh took a swipe at the National Assembly for condemning the N51million monthly imprest for the office of the Acting Managing Director of the commission, and the N18million imprest for his office, saying that such monies were not personal money but for the upkeep of the place, especially on security.
He alleged that a highly placed member of the National Assembly from the South-South, whom he accused of working against the IMC, has a cumulative imprest of about N100million monthly without the kind of security challenges the NDDC management faces on daily basis.
According to him, “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 feed them, cater for them, that is what is in the letter the police hierarchy sent.
“So, people are talking about N51million 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, N18million, it does not go to my account, it goes for security and other expenses, and it is retired, there is no fraud in it.”
He said when President Buhari nominated them, and they arrived at NDDC office Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, the first thing they noticed was that the two chairmen (NDDC Committee) in the National Assembly, were the “De facto management, managers and the executive of NDDC.”
He said as a former member of the National Assembly and a former liaison officer to the President, he has been in the Chambers, and he has been in government since 1999 till date.
“So, I know what time of the day it is in politics and in governance. So, we told them it cannot be business as usual, then, they said we must leave.”
Asked what was responsible for the sudden interest of the National Assembly in the activities of the IMC, he said, “God bless you. It’s the forensic audit that the President has instituted because 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.”
Also asked why the country should break, he said, “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.
“So, when I explained, I told Mr. President to look, my job here is very simple. Mr. President looks, even if it is the only thing I achieve in my life to make sure that things are put right for the people of the Niger Delta to have the benefit of the NDDC. You can call me any name, you can do anything, you can say anything, I don’t care but I must do the right thing and the right thing is that no one penny will be missing.”
He further alleged that the National Assembly had planned to truncate the progress of the forensic audit through various means; first by using the probes by the committees and later by refusing to sign the budget, saying the refusal to sign the budget is an instrument of blackmail against the IMC.
He said, “Mark you, the National Assembly sabotaged, through the instrumentality of the chairmen of the House and Senate, they sabotaged … if you give them to report, they will say you did not bring performance report. We brought everything that they’ve asked us to bring, but they used the budget as the instrument of blackmail.
“So, they have blackmailed the nation and the Niger Delta in the last 20 years, that is why you see that you cannot go to the Niger Delta today and see ten kilometres of dualised roads done by the NDDC, no. What do you see, 500 meters here, 200 meters there and all of them one billion each”, he said.
He, however, said despite efforts of the National Assembly to muzzle the IMC and frustrate the forensic audit, the audit process had progressed as the first leg of the job had already been concluded and the second and final leg would soon kick-off.
He said, “It has started. Why are we here if it has not? The National Assembly wanted to truncate it, they said they will not pass our budget. You know the forensic audit is in two stages; we have procured the lead auditors and they are at work, they have all the files of all the contracts at the NDDC from inception till date.
“The second stage is to send the various auditors to each of the states, the National Assembly people know that’s where they are culpable so they stopped our budget, but the President said the forensic audit must continue that he will fund it.
“The lead auditors have finished their initial job, they have written their report, now each of the states will have one auditor looking at all the contracts and projects in it. That’s what we came here for today. These auditors will now go back to the states tomorrow, once we finish here today and the council approves it.”
On the allegations of misappropriation against the IMC by the National Assembly committees, Ojougboh said the allegations were just another attempt at blackmail, explaining that the IMC had not awarded a single contract, but had been sorting out what he described as obligatory debts of the NDDC to its contractors.
“That’s the problem. The reason they are touting those multiple billions is just to give us a bad name, the multiple billions that are payments for obligatory debts. The payment is not for me, every year the NDDC spends as much as four to five hundred billion, it is the debt we met on ground.
“People have done their jobs, are we going to say they should not be paid? We have not awarded one contract; people are taking us to court every day. So, we look at the projects, we clear them and we pay. They said we spent, but we didn’t spend, rather we paid historic debts”, he explained.
He further said, “They are talking about Covid-19 payment, the Federal Government is given every citizen N30,000 each, do you know how much 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 N20million, while the House of Representatives members got N15million for Covid-19 from the National Assembly. They all received Covid-19 allowances.”
Asked if the money spent by the commission on Covid-19 palliatives was budgeted for, he said, the money was spent under emergency.
He said, “It was not budgeted for because it was an emergency, it’s allowed. It comes under emergency. The N30,000 per person that the Federal Government is giving to the citizens, was it budgeted for? Did anybody budget for Covid-19? Nobody budgeted for Covid-19. The SGF is the chairman of the Covid-19 Task Force in Nigeria, was that task force budgeted for? It’s an emergency, and it’s allowed.
“What we are saying is that Nigerians must appreciate Mr. President. Like when we got to the headquarter building, no one thought that building could be completed. Today, we have completed it, we are inside it, but they will come to tell you that we are inside an uncompleted building, which is a very huge lie.
“We are inside the building that is where I go to work every day. It’s all propaganda by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, and his cohorts just because they want to throw us out of the place because of politics, and if we didn’t go there, that headquarters building would not be completed.”
Stakeholders Harp On Collection Of PVCs …As Okrika Hosts GDI Sensitisation Rally
The Grassroot Development Initiative (GDI), has tasked eligible voters in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State to focus efforts at the collection of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to enable them actively participate in the 2023 elections.
The stakeholders gave the charge, last Wednesday, during a PVC sensitisation rally at Okochiri.
Thousands of dignitaries from far and near Okrika Kingdom stormed the ancient town for the sensitisation programme.
In a brief speech, the state Chairman of PDP, Amb Desmond Akawor, reminded GDI and PDP members and supporters to intensify mobilisation and enlightenment of the electorate on the need to arm themselves with their PVCs to enable them exercise their franchise during the forthcoming elections.
Also speaking, two chieftains of the PDP, Dr Sampson Parker, and Hon Ibibia Walter, assured that Okrikans were already energised to ensure that their votes count during the 2023 elections by registering and collecting their PVCs.
They urged those who were yet to collect their PVCCs to do so without further delay.
In his remarks, President-General of GDI, Hon. Bright Amaewhule, said the political pressure group embarked on the sensitisation programme with the aim of ensuring that no eligible voter in the state was left behind in efforts to elect acceptable leaders into the Executive and all Legislative offices in 2023.
Amaewhule challenged all those who were yet to collect their PVCs to rush to the nearby Independent National Electoral Commission office or PVC Collection Centre to pick up their PVCs, and get ready to do themselves proud by exercising their franchise come 2023 elections.
Among the dignitaries were the Rivers State Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Amb Desmond Akawor; some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including the Deputy Chairman, Chukwuemeka Aaron; and the state Secretary, Dr Benibo George; who were there on solidarity.
There were also past and present LGA chairmen, serving and former lawmakers and commissioners in the state, party stalwarts and leaders, including Dr Sampson Parker, Hon. Ibibia Walter, and former NUPENG National Chairman, Comrade Igwe Achese, among others.
The event featured ward-by-ward gyration by GDI members in Okrika and solidarity speeches from GDI stakeholders in the area.
They all advised those who have already registered during the just concluded continuous voter registration exercise to ensure collection of their PVCs.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
Nwanosike Reprimands Abati Over Diatribe On Wike
The Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Engr. Samuel Nwanosike, has reprimanded Dr. Reuben Abati over his diatribe on the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
Recall that Abati, an ace journalist and public affairs commentator, had in one of his programmes on Arise TV, took a swipe at the Rivers State governor over his perceived misunderstanding with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on the choice of his running mate.
Nwanosike, while speaking with newsmen at his office in Isiokpo, last Tuesday, urged Nigerians to disregard the outburst of Dr. Reuben Abati, because, according to him, Abati does not understand the discussion that took place between Governor Nyesom Wike and his team, while advising Abati to properly advice his boss.
According to Nwanosike, “I will advise him to advise his principal properly. A man that won a presidential ticket, and wants to win an election should not send attack dogs to attack those who will gather votes for him.
“In Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike is in charge. In South-South, Chief Nyesom Wike is in charge. Chief Nyesom Wike remains the star-man of South-South politics, and we will continue to follow his directions. His leadership quality is okay for us”.
He decried the rate at which men who were meant to be upright and truthful, were attacking and bullying some others because they have easy platforms.
Nwanosike said, “It’s a shame that we have gotten to a level in this country where men who are supposed to say the truth will wake up in the midnight because they have a platform, they have the opportunity, and then, want to bully other Nigerians who are eminently qualified, even more qualified than them, into a position that will suit them”.
He acknowledged that Abati raised some critical issues, but wondered why a first-class material like him has failed to proffer any solution to the issues bedevilling Nigeria.
“Dr. Reuben Abati is or has raised some critical issues. Issue number one is that he started writing and practicing journalism since 1985, and he made a first class in the University of Calabar. It’s a great achievement. But the only problem we have as Nigerians is that all issues, being a first class graduate and writing since 1985, has he produced any result in the Nigerian issues?
“As a first class graduate, he is supposed to be one of Nigeria’s best”, Nwanosike said.
He regretted that Abati bullied former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to appoint him as presidential spokesman, but rather worked in connivance with the opposition party to ensure Jonathan’s failure.
“He bullied President Goodluck Jonathan into giving him an appointment as press secretary. Between 2012 and 2013, President Jonathan was considered the best and Nigeria was adjudged one of the fastest growing economies in the world, yet Lai Mohammed came and sold lies to Nigerians not to appreciate the good works of Jonathan, and this Reuben Abati couldn’t do anything to sell the good works of President Goodluck Jonathan because he doesn’t have the capacity.
“In fact, we can accuse Reuben Abati of sabotaging or as one of those who sabotaged the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan. That’s why Jonathan lost that election.
“And today, Reuben Abati’s failure has brought us the destruction of lives and property we have in Nigeria today”, Nwanosike stated.
The Ikwerre Council boss lashed out at Abati for being Atiku Abubakar’s political puppet, and his inability to establish any media outfit, despite his claim of being a media practitioner for over 37 years.
He said, “A man who claims that he has been at the third tier for over 22 years, yet, he cannot tell us of a media investment that he has developed whether it’s a television station of his own or a print media of his own. Rather, what he is doing is to wake up in the morning, wear a suit and tie of his age, seems he is over 60, and come and sit down and churn out lies to Nigerians because his paymaster, Atiku Abubakar, wants to press Nigerians into giving him an opportunity to manage the Nigerian economy because he believes, Atiku Abubakar believes, that being the President of Nigeria is his life ambition”.
Nwanosike noted that what the Rivers State governor said that a leader like Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President of Nigeria, lied to the Nigerian public about him is factual, saying that one Dr Osina justified Wike’s assertion when he called Alhaji Atiku Abubakar a liar during Dr. Reuben Abati’s Morning Show.
“Governor Nyesom Wike has done well as an Ikwerre man; has done well as a Rivers man; has done well as a South-South man; and represents the image of the South-South people. We are not to talk about age, age is just a number. He has the capacity and competence.
“Chief Nyesom Wike has done well as a chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government, two-time chairman, built wonderful infrastructures for Obio/Akpor people, and made Obio/Akpor people to understand what dividends of democracy mean, and touched all their wards as a sitting local government chairman.
“He grew to the level of becoming President of Commonwealth Association of Local Government Chairmen. Outside that, Chief Nyesom Wike served in the same administration with Reuben Abati as a minister. He didn’t shop for it”, Nwanosike noted.
He stressed that the legacies of Chief Nyesom Wike as Nigeria’s Junior Minister of Education and even Senior Minister of Education still speak volumes, and remain evergreen, adding that Chief Nyesom Wike has replicated his tremendous achievements in Rivers State.
He urged Nigerians to disregard the outburst of Dr. Reuben Abati because, according to him, he does not understand the discussion that happened between Chief Nyesom Wike and his team, while advising Abati to properly advise his boss.
While digressing, Nwanosike advised the National Chairman of PDP, Senator Iyorcha Ayu, to abide by the party’s Constitution and honourably resign since the presidential candidate of the party is from the same North with him.
Embrace Exclusive Breastfeeding, Banigo Tasks Nursing Mothers
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has reiterated the need for nursing mothers to embrace exclusive breastfeeding to facilitate the healthy growth of their babies.
Banigo stated this in her goodwill message in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, to commemorate the 2022 World Breast Feeding Week.
According to the public health physician, breast milk remains nature’s food for ensuring the health and quality of life for infants through childhood to adult life.
She said expectant mothers should register at the government health facilities spread across the state for their antenatal visits, delivery, and post-natal services, adding that the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike-led administration cares about the health of nursing mothers and their babies.
The first week of August each year has been set aside as World Breastfeeding Week, which is an initiative to raise awareness on the benefits of exclusive breast-feeding.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support”.
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