The fate of Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio, and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is in the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari.
President Buhari is currently under intense pressure to fire Akpabio and purge the obviously failed NDDC.
The battle to get the former Akwa Ibom State governor who did not deliver the state to the All Progressives Congress (APC) within 30 minutes as he boasted before the 2019 polls out of the Buhari cabinet is broadening as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP is locking horns with APC on corruption.
Since the inception of the Buhari administration in 2015, APC has been lashing the PDP, blaming all the trouble with Nigeria for the opposition party’s corruption.
But five years after, the corruption tide appears to be turning. PDP says the stench of corruption oozing out of the Buhari administration has finally confirmed that APC is the headquarters of corruption as well as ‘’the dockyard of thieves, treasury looters, and oppressive cabal who have stolen our nation dry’’.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement alleges that the ruling party has been seeking to frustrate on-going probes in government agencies because its leaders are complicit and all soiled, from head to toe, in the mire of corruption.
PDP notes that APC’s attack against its insistence on the prosecution of APC leaders indicted in the NDDC probe further betrays the ruling party’s desperation to shield its corrupt leaders and office holders who have been implicated in the probe.
Continuing, Ologbondiyan said ‘’the attempt by APC to accuse PDP over the collapse of the acting NDDC Managing Director, Daniel Pondei, at the National Assembly, apparently under the weight and shame of the massive corruption in APC administration further exposes APC’s misery.
‘’Under this administration, no government agency is safe from the pillaging fingers of the APC. The APC and its administration is a huge labyrinth of corruption where APC leaders, cabinet ministers, heads of agencies and departments, presidential aides, anti-corruption agencies and even APC federal lawmakers are all entangled in sharp practices.’’
According to the PDP, ‘’the disgraceful and scandalous appeal of ‘Hon Minister, off your microphone’ situation at the National Assembly sums it all. Our party challenges the APC to find its voice and speak out on the litany of evidence in the public space, showing how its leaders have been stealing billions of naira NDDC fund while people of the region, wallow in abject poverty and despondency.
‘’It is imperative to state that the APC must address the new peel of its labyrinth of corruption at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) where their leaders and cronies have been fingered in alleged involvement of looting of about N4.448 billion through underhand contracts.
‘’Nigerians are already in the know of how APC leaders reportedly siphoned N40 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), part of which was allegedly used to finance APC’s 2019 campaigns in a racket in which certain top APC leaders were alleged to have received N3 billion each.
‘’This is in addition to exposed looting of N33 billion NEMA fund as well as findings by the House of Representatives that the funds were never used for provision of emergency food for victims of insurgency in the Northeast among other items as claimed.
‘’APC has also remained silent over the allegations that part of the looted funds discovered in the EFCC probe, was given to a very top official of the APC administration. Nigerians have also not forgotten the alleged malfeasance in the APC-led ministry of finance and that of humanitarian affairs where billions of naira meant for palliatives and other essentials to mitigate the hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic was allegedly stolen.
‘’The public is also aware of the leaked NNPC memo detailing how APC leaders stole a whooping N9.6 trillion ($25billion dollars) through underhand contracts; the siphoning of N18 billion out of the N48 billion meant for the rebuilding of six northeast states ravaged by insurgency as well as the looting of N25 billion from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), among others.
‘’We know that APC leaders are now having sleepless nights. However, pointing accusing fingers at others, destroying evidence, resorting to antics at the National Assembly as well as threats, intimidation and attempt to silence vital witnesses will not help the APC as the headquarters of corruption.’’
In the meantime, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has joined the broadening anti-Akpabio lobbyists to push for the minister’s sack.
Sagay is urging President Buhari to relieve Akpabio of his appointment as minister without further delay.
As part of President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, he constituted PACAC in August 2015, the very first committee he set up after he was sworn into office on May 29, 2015.
PACAC commenced work on August 10, 2015, with the mandate to, inter alia – promote the reform agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort, to advise the present administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. A seven-member Technical Committee supports PACAC.
Speaking on Channels Television on Wednesday, Sagay said Akpabio should be sacked for what he described as his ‘’high level of incompetence and meddlesomeness’’ in NDDC, claiming that President Buhari should remove the minister because he is neck-deep in it.
The PACAC chair is also advising President Buhari to dissolve the NDDC IMC and replace it with fresh blood. This is coming as the House of Representatives’ ultimatum on Akpabio to publish the names of National Assembly members who benefited from the 60 % contract deals in NDDC expires.
The House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, gave the embattled minister 48 hours which expires this Thursday, to play ball or brace for the consequences of his seeming unguarded outburst.
Sagay who is in support of Gbajabiamila, says it will be ideal for such names to be published, adding, ”If I were the President if I were in his shoes, and if I was to advise him, I would say dissolve this interim Management Committee, remove the Minister of the Niger Delta because he is neck-deep in it and bring in fresh people, probably people who have been properly nominated and then institute a very strict system of monitoring expenditure.
”I think it is a very healthy development. The suspicions have been strong for a long time that many lawmakers are not satisfied with their own and they want to do business with government and that they use their influence to acquire contracts in areas they are supposed to be providing supervision for.
“The suspicion has been on for a very long time and some names have been mentioned in the past and they denied. So I think this is a very good opportunity for that issue to be finally settled.
“Once the names are mentioned and spelt out, we would be able to conclude and know those who are compromising their positions as legislators and getting their hands in areas in which they should be providing a cleansing for society. But if it is false, they would have cleared their names and their honour and integrity would be restored.”
Prof. Itsejuwa Esanjumi Sagay, obtained his law degree (L.L.B) from Ife in 1965 and was enrolled as Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1966 after obtaining his Certi cate from the Council of Legal Education (B.L.).
He was awarded a Master of International Law (L.L.M) from Cambridge in 1968 and a Ph.D in International Law in 1970. He has been conferred with several distinguished academic honours including the National Scholarship for the Best Performance in University (LL.B.) Law Examinations (1963 – 1966); Sweet and Maxwell Publishers Prize for the Best Performance in Revenue Law in the Nigerian Bar Examinations (1966); Willoughby Prize for Best Overall Performance in the Nigerian Bar Examinations (1966) amongst several others. He is a 1976 recipient of the Certificate of The Hague Academy of International Law and was conferred Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1998. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, (Nigeria) and Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal studies (NIALS).
Sagay has one of the most extensive professional legal experiences in Nigeria serving as Managing Partner of Itse Sagay & Co for over 28 years. He has also served as Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Benin and Dean, Faculty of Law University of Ife.
He has consulted for the United Nations, the African Union and the African Commission. He has also advised several National Ministries Departments and Agencies including being Reviser of Nigerian Minerals Law for the Federal Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in 1993 as well as Mediator in the Former Workers Mediation for the Nigerian Security Minting and Printing Company in 2002 and 2003.
His areas of professional and teaching experience include but are not limited to Public International Law, Constitutional Law, Law of Contract, Family Law, Law of Succession, Corporate Law, Business Law, Nigerian Customary Law, Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
He has published 18 law books and monographs with over 200 publications in local and international journals and newspapers. He is married with children.