The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, on Tuesday held a meeting with the Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.
The meeting also had the spokesperson of the House of Assembly, Benjamin Kalu, as well as the acting Clerk to the National Assembly, Olatunde Ojo, in attendance. The meetings held separately and behind closed doors, Punch Newspaper reports.
Although the outcome of the meetings was not disclosed, it is not unrelated to the National Assembly’s investigation on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Prior to the annual recess, both chambers of the National Assembly commenced investigation into the alleged financial recklessness of the commission as well as mismanagement of N81.5bn by the interim management of the NDDC.
The probe, which lasted for over a month, witnessed shocking revelations including how the commission spent N1.5 billion for staff as COVID-19 relief funds.
Both officials of the NDDC and some lawmakers on the panel accused each of being culpable.
In the same vein, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had challenged Mr Akpabio to list lawmakers who are complicit after the latter listed some lawmakers and said there were more to be named.
After his meeting with the Clerk, the minister was asked, on the charge by Mr Gbajabiamila, to present proof of his allegation.
“No, no, no, you are wrong. That was not what the Honourable Speaker demanded. The Speaker wanted to know whether there was undue influence from any section of the National Assembly in respect of contracts in the NDDC. He did not say whether they were contractors. So, I’m hearing it from you” was his response.
“National Assembly is National Assembly. We must ensure that there is harmony between the legislature and the executive, and that harmony has existed. In fact, we are just talking to the Clerk of the National Assembly that today, we have a better National Assembly, by implication the Senate and House of Reps, in terms of legislative-executive harmony and cordiality,” he added.
The Senate panel has since submitted its report and made recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari who had earlier asked that the probe be taken seriously.
Part of the recommendations was asking the NDDC to refund all unjustifiable funds paid to staffers. It also vowed to investigate alleged complicity of members.
The House panel is yet to consider its report.