The Minister for Niger Delta Affairs is in overdrive now to complete the NDDC Headquarters. And he intends to have the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to do the opening. What cheek? Godswill Akpabio has been in the newspaper lately on very embarrassing headlines over his handling of affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission. His status as a liability to this administration cannot be overemphasized. A conman extraordinnaire, he began his campaign in the NDDC on the footing of forensic investigation of the finances of the Commission. Nobody could fault that, particularly if you were genuinely frustrated by the dingy side of the NDDC! Akpabio would see a sleazy opportunity in every situation. He now operates at the national level but has forgotten that some of his autocratic side, supported by immunity of office as Governor of Akwa Ibom Stateare no longer available.
Within the last three months, Akpabio has succeeded in paying N16 Billion for the completion of the Headquarters of the NDDC! RODNAP LTD, a company that has had a long-standing relationship with Akpabio is the apparent beneficiary of the N16 Billion. Julius Berger Big. plc had agreed to complete the Headquarters at the cost of N6 Billion. For reasons of the filial relationship with Rodnap, the contract was awarded to that infamous company. Rodnap has no competence for the calibre of job entrusted to it and has subcontracted the job to Ràycon Nig.Ltd for less than 25% of the original cost and nobody is talking about it! Ràycon is well known in Akwa Ibom State a yet another dubious company usually used by Godswill Akpabio for money laundering activities. It has fizzled out of Akwa Ibom State because Governor Udom Emmanuel does not deal with it.
Most certainly, the Headquarters building has been at the centre of intense opprobrium owing to the unending inflation of the costs and the unduly long gestation period for its completion over the years. That building and it’s incidents were also subject to the forensic audit! By what authority did Akpabio exempt the Headquarters building from forensic investigation? Such a major project? Understandably, Akpabio needs this in order to launder his already battered image. Imagine President Buhari lending his weight to the opening ceremony of that grotesque piece of corruption without bringing to book, all those who have milked the Commission dry, under the pretext of building the Headquarters of the Commission. It would be a major public relations coup against all the anti-corruption campaigners helping this administration in its war against corruption. Surely, this is not to denigrate the idea of a worthy Head Office for the Commission. The way to go about it, however, is not to give the impression that the government cannot demonstrate abhorrence to corruption being actively perpetuated by individuals currently undergoing scrutiny by the National Assembly and security agencies. Such publicity stunt, enabled by the President’s imprimatur upon such an event would fire Akpabio to commit even more financial atrocities. This is a man who has spent over N80 Billion for no just cause at the NDDC and another N60 Million to the media to cover up the fraud and launder his image! There must be an end to all these nonsense.
Chief John Nkereuwem, JP
Good Governance Centre, Uyo