by Dyepkazah Shibayan, The CableNG
Godswill Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta affairs, says he did not accuse members of the national assembly of benefiting from contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
But this is a departure from a claim he made in July.
While appearing before a house of representatives committee probing an alleged mismanagement of N81.5 billion by the commission, the minister said national assembly members were the biggest beneficiaries of contracts awarded by the commission.
Thereafter, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, charged him to name the lawmakers or face the “wrath of the house”.
The former senate minority leader went on to name Peter Nwaoboshi, chairman of the senate committee on NDDC, Matthew Urhoghide, senate committee chairman on public accounts, and James Manager, senator representing Delta south, as some of the beneficiaries.
They have all denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking with journalists after meeting with Olatunde Ojo, acting clerk of the national assembly on Tuesday, Akpabio said Gbajabiamila only wanted to know whether there was “undue influence” from the federal lawmakers.
“No, you are wrong. That was not what the speaker demanded,” the minister said while fielding questions from journalists.
“The speaker wanted to know whether there was undue influence from any section of the national assembly in respect of contracts in the NDDC. He did not say whether they were contractors, so I am hearing this from you.”
Akpabio said he would be back to the assembly as soon as the lawmakers return from their recess.
“This is like homecoming and the national assembly ought to have resumed today (Tuesday). They postponed it, so I intended that as soon as the resumption takes place, I am here.
“It is part of my effort to support the president’s decision that there must be a much more cordial relationship between the executive and legislature.
“In fact, the president recently set up a tripartite committee made up of the party (APC), the national assembly and the executive to ensure oneness because we are running one government.”
The former minority leader said the current government wants to leave a legacy for Nigerians, adding that “we cannot do this if all the arms of government are not cooperating”.