As Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, has been forced to open a stinking can of worms, it is safe to say that the NDDC contract scam has entered another curious level.
Recall that the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila had last week given Akpabio 48 hours, to publish the names of National Assembly (NASS) members involved in the NDDC contract scandal, or face prosecution And Akpabio complied accordingly.
But in the letter forwarded to him by the minister, the Speaker only read Akpabio’s response partially to the plenary, by exonerating the 9th assembly and indicting previous ones. The Speaker allegedly omitted an attached sheet of four pages which contained a list of indicted NASS members, their names, types and quantity of contracts and amount of contract money involved. It was a shocking and deliberate attempt by the Speaker to cover his NASS colleagues involved in the contract scandal – a shameful revelation that has further made Nigeria a laughing stock in the world.
Last week, I wrote on this column that the Speaker’s ultimatum to the minister was an empty bragadccio intended to save NASS face from humiliation. If the Speaker can shield his colleagues fingered in a festering corruption charge, then what’s the whole noise and wasted effort in the NDDC and IMC probes. What is the whole value and benefit of oversight functions. It goes to show how far NASS members can protect and abet crimes amongst themselves, at the detriment of the people who elect and pay them lavishly.
In the list forwarded by Akpabio to the Speaker, Senators Peter Nwaoboshi (53 projects); Matthew Urhoghide, James Manager(4 projects); Sam Anyanwu (19 projects); Mutu (74 projects); as well as other unnamed NASS contractors from Ondo and Edo, were mentioned. However, Akpabio still maintained that the two House Committee Chairmen actually got the whole contracts, and then subsequently sublet the jobs to their friends and cronies in their midst.
In the true spirit of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war, these NDDC contracts and more should be thoroughly scrutinized and NASS members who benefited from them should be prosecuted, as a deterrent to others. If not, the president should get ready to apologize to Nigerians, and PDP in particular, for running a worse accountable government in the Nigerian history.
The NDDC probe has just started.
John Daniel Obioma.