By Kalada Jumbo
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on Niger Delta Affair Minister Godswill Akpabio to step aside for investigation.
The party made this call in a statement signed and circulated on Monday, July 13, by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan.
The PDP said the monstrous sleaze being unearthed in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is just a tip of the iceberg of the stinking corruption and criminal racketeering that have pervaded the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The party said the shocking details of allegation by the former NDDC Managing Director, Joy Nunieh, of massive stealing, manipulation of budget processes, victimization and implication of innocent Nigerians as well as fetish practices by corrupt officials, allegedly spearheaded by the supervising minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, have further exposed how ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) are run under the Buhari-led APC administration.
The PDP observed that the silence and inaction by the Buhari Presidency and the APC since the uncovering of the fraud in the NDDC signpost complicity at the highest levels as well as validate public stance that treasury looting and cover up for corrupt persons are normal official statecraft and manifesto of the APC and the Buhari administration.
“Nigerians are still in a state of shock over reports of how the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Akpabio, allegedly bullied officials to pillage the Commission’s foreign currency account; how the laid down procedures of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) are allegedly circumvented to siphon unapproved budgets as well as how innocent workers and federal legislators, who are averse to corrupt practices, were victimized, implicated and even harassed with fetish practices.
“The allegation by the former NDDC MD that a certain NDDC top notch said he can kill if Senator Akpabio asks him to do so, shows the level of recklessness and the victimization in MDAs under the APC rule.
“More distressing is that the Buhari Presidency and the APC had remained silent even when the embattled minister has not provided any concrete defence to the allegations beyond personal attacks on the whistle blower.
‘Nigerians will recall that our party had in April, alerted of massive looting in the NDDC and called for investigation, which was however not addressed by the government.
“Our party had also alerted that the NDDC management has not been able to give cogent explanation to the reported Lassa fever contract fraud through which over N4 billion naira NDDC fund was alleged to have been frittered on hazy procurement deals.
“This is in addition to alleged N5.5 billion COVID-19 scandal which trails reports that the NDDC had already spent over N1.045 billion purportedly for supply of kits and palliatives to Nigerians in nine states.
“The PDP holds that any credible administration like the one the APC and the Buhari Presidency would want Nigerians to believe as running, would have spoken out and commenced immediate investigation into the matter, if its officials are not complicit.
“The PDP charges the Buhari Presidency to speak out on the issue, particularly, given the delicate nature of the Niger Delta, and take steps to investigate and prosecute all those involved in the alleged fraud.
“The PDP therefore demands that Senator Akpabio should step aside and submit himself for investigation over these weighty allegations,” the party further stated.