Fred Itua, Abuja
Twenty four hours after the Senate ordered a thorough investigation into an alleged N40 billion fraud in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), leaders from the Niger Delta have accused the National Assembly of frustrating President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war.
The leaders, who are members of Niger Delta Forum for Equity and Justice, in a statement made available to reporters on Wednesday, wondered why the federal legislature should make what they regard as spurious claims about a multimillion naira fraud scheme.
National coordinator of the Forum Kenneth Adagogo, who spoke on behalf of others stated:
“Early this year, NNPC retired many General Managers and redeployed others. Why didn’t the Senate probe it? Why the sudden interest to probe NDDC? Is this how to support your own party, the APC and your President in bringing the dividends of democracy to the people of the Niger Delta?
“The allegations against the Interim Management Committee which forms the basis of a probe by the National Assembly is ridiculous. These are the same issues that have been subject of the smear campaign against the Commission in the past few weeks. Can a Committee withdraw and misappropriate N40 billion without the knowledge of President Buhari, anti-corruption agency and other relevant regulatory agencies? Why has the National Assembly decided to leave important issues and begin to chase shadows? It’s very curious.
“It is always convenient to drag the name of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio in the mud. Curiously, those behind this, pretend to be his friends in the open. The leadership of the National Assembly has unfettered access to Senator Akpabio and can always reach out to him to confirm certain things rather than resorting to this unnecessary blackmail.
“We urge the Senate, vis-a-vis the National Assembly, to quickly retrace its step. We urge them not to use the revered Parliament as a launchpad for some lightweight politicians in the Niger Delta who are nursing personal political ambitions in 2023. The Senate must not give an impression that the latest move to probe the NDDC is meant to arm-twist the agency to frustrate the ongoing forensic audit. They must be seen to be on the same page with President Muhammadu Buhari in cleansing the agency.
“We also urge them not to ignorantly avail themselves as puns for some people to achieve their sinister intentions. The purpose of setting up the interventionist agency was not to provide free money to fund people’s political ambitions. It’s a new dawn in NDDC and the Senate must support the Interim Management Committee to succeed.
“But if the National Assembly decides to go ahead and embarrass the administration of President Buhari, Nigerians will bear witness to the collapse of the smooth relationship that has been existing between the National Assembly and the Presidency.”