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NYESOM Wike, Governor of Rivers State says the recent revelations of corruption from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) were not unexpected to him, alleging that the Commission invested N10 billion to fight against him during the last election.
“Unfortunately, they have turned it to a different thing, NDDC is a cash cow for politicians. In my own election, NDDC brought N10 billion cash to fight against me,” Wike said on Tuesday in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
He added that the NDDC has lost focus from the initial mission for which it was established for, and has become a money making machine for some corrupt politicians.
“I have said before and it is very clear, my concern is everybody knows that NDDC was set up for the development of the region,” he said.
His comments followed the ongoing probe by the National Assembly into the fraud running into billions of naira said to have been perpetrated by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC between February and May 2020.
He also accused the Commission of embarking on projects in Rivers without the consent of the state government.
“You cannot go to a state and begin to carry out projects without the permission of the state government, you don’t know what their plans are. You can’t come into my state to disturb my development plan, you must let me know,” Wike said.
According to him, technocrats, and not politicians should be placed in charge of the Commission to enable it function effectively to change the narrative of what is playing out at the moment.
While explaining the role of governors in the South-South, he said, “Under the NDDC Act, there should be a governing board made up of the governors.”
“Since 2015 we have been asking for that board, but it was only last year that the President was able to constitute a governing board. But that is just theory.”
Between February and May, investigations were launched by lawmakers to probe the alleged fraud in the NDDC while President Muhammadu Buhari also ordered that a forensic audit to be carried out on the Commission.
The investigations unraveled more scam and loopholes in the Commission’s funds, a development that has sparked series of drama and blame games between lawmakers and government officials.
Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, alleged that about 60 per cent of the NDDC projects were awarded to lawmakers during the last investigative hearing organised by the House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission at the National Assembly.
Akpabio’s allegations generated backlash, which led to the demand by the Femi Gbajabiamila asking the minster to publish names of the lawmakers in twenty four hours, the claim has since sparked more reactions from some members of the Senate and House of Representatives.