Godswill Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta affairs, says the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was treated like an automated teller machine (ATM) by corrupt people.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the NDDC from 2001 to 2019. The president said the directive had become imperative in view of the persistent criticisms of the operations of the commission.
Akpabio who spoke in an interview with the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), lamented that the commission has become known for abandoned projects, adding that political interference has also not allowed the commission to work as it ought to.
“We have also had a lot of political interference, people have not allowed NDDC to work as it ought to, people coming with ideas not to move the region forward but to move their pockets forward. It has always been so.
“We currently have about 12,000 abandoned projects across the nine states of the Niger Delta. If those things were completed, you can imagine that the area would have been turned into an Eldorado.
“There is no way NDDC road can last (for) even two years. I think people were treating the place as an ATM, where you just walk in there to go and pluck money and go away, I don’t think they were looking at it as an interventionist agency.
“Even the idea of giving out a job to somebody who does not have the requisite skills is corruption on its own. The idea of bloating the contract is also corruption. Even collecting money and abandoning the site is also corruption.
“We have also had a lot of political interference, people have not allowed NDDC to work as it ought to, people coming with ideas not to move the region forward but to move their pockets forward. It has always been so.”
Asked how he felt about the president’s order for an audit, he said: “I believe by now, people would have realised that the president is justified in calling for a forensic audit of the commission.
“I wonder why the leaders in the past didn’t find it necessary to look into the activities of the NDDC, with a view to repositioning it. There is nobody that will be happy to see this kind of situation.”