From: Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has debunked the insinuations that he asked state governors in the South-South zone to account for the over N56 trillion received from the federation account since 1999.
Akpabio was said to have made the call during the inauguration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) headquarters secretariat in Port Harcourt last month, forcing the Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike to ask the Minister to mind his language while speaking about governors in the zone.
But delivering a keynote address on Friday at the NDDC Strategic Capacity Workshop/Retreat currently taking place at Ibom Icon Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo, Akpabio said he couldn’t have made such a call because that would have meant indicting himself.
” I was governor for eight years. So if I called for the governors to render account, it therefore means that I’m indicting myself.
” The social media pick the wrong thing and a governor in the South South was said reacted to it. Of course I had to keep quiet because there was no need to respond.
“So I’m advising personalities to be carw what you pick from the social media. It is not the best source to pic information.” Akpabio said.
Concerning the NDDC, the minister said transparency and inclusiveness in the commission’s budgeting systems, evaluation and strict monitoring of projects and programmes are necessary for the NDDC to impact meaningfully in the region.
He said, ”we have just finished the Capacity Building Workshop organized with critical stakeholders covering, the National Assembly, the State Governments of the Region, the Oil Companies, the traditional rulers, Civil Societies, the youth and NDDC Management.
”For the Commission to effectively and efficiently deliver on its mandate, as captured in Section 7 of the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act (as amended), it was decided to look at ways at achieving an all-inclusive budget.
”It is clear that fiscal transparency in budgeting has been compromised, not only by executive overrides, but by weak internal mechanisms, which give little or no resistance to overbearing external influences.
He added that ”Corruption is one of the greatest problems of the Nigerian society and it also finds its ugly and devastating effects in all sectors of the polity including the Niger Delta Development Commission
”It has been reported that the level of corruption engulfed all the sectors including government, parastatals, ministries, government officials and community leaders even the youth leaders and NDDC was not left out in the act.
”If strengthening NDDC, as an institution through its budgeting systems, as well as through its procurement, monitoring, evaluation and compliance processes, is not achieved, then the bells of doom would, inevitably, begin to toll harder.
”Secondly, we should look at governance issues. It is often stated that “weak political and institutional governance in the Niger Delta has led to the misuse of public resources, poor service delivery, and the poor enforcement, of the law.
”The consequence has been the lingering restiveness, the breakdown of trust, abuse and misuse of power between officials and the communities, and embezzlement and attendant violence.
”Yet, every concerned party is guilty. Private investors in the oil and gas sector, factions of different community restive groups, traditional rulers, the regulatory and supervisory agencies and government officials have been fingered as contributory to the challenges in establishing good governance”.
In his welcome remarks, the Interim Administrator of the NDDC, Mr. Efiong Akwa said the retreat is aimed at furthering ongoing consultations between the commission and all relevant stakeholders for effective development of the region.