The Executive Director, YouthAid Nigeria, Comrade Smart Edwards, on Wednesday, warned the National Assembly not to intimidate the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) through selfish probes.
Edwards in a statement in Abuja, lamented that events emanating from the ongoing probe of alleged reckless spending by the Interim Management Committees (IMC) of the NDDC by the House of Representatives has clearly shown that the lawmakers are “very fast becoming tyrants with vested interest.”
He said that Nigerians have watched repeatedly how the lawmakers were trying to get at Akpabio by forcefully shouting him down during the investigative hearing in the House of Representatives.
He insisted that while institutional protection is an obvious mission, the parliament cannot be seen to deliberately attempt to scandalise Akpabio, “whose profile talls them all. ”
Edwards said: “It is sad that the National Assembly has made itself the centre of a Nollywood-styled onslaught against Akpabio.
“Don’t frustrate him, let Akpabio turn the Niger Delta Region into a place of pride, that is what he is known for.
“He remains a man of uncommon projects, uncommon management, uncommon impact and uncommon investment. Don’t try to demonise him.
“A lot of people, young and old, widows and the downtrodden, see a harbinger of hope in the Niger Delta with Akpabio on the saddle.
“You cannot fault a man, whose mass appeal is reminiscent of that of our founding fathers as a Nation.
“Akwa Ibom people were born equal with all Nigerians but some became maidservants by whatever decision. This man took them out of that in eight years.
“That slavery was forever aborted and terminated. Can you fathom what he can do to the mentality and economic development of the youths of the region in the next three years?”
He told the lawmakers that the IMC of the NDDC has come to stay, “therefore, the legislature must assist the President to achieve the goals of unity and development of the Region.
“Why is N16billion for the completion of the NDDC’s Headquarters building a crime while N37billion for proposed renovation of the National Assembly appears crucial?
“It is not out of place to hold the Executive accountable but you must not intimidate them into Silence.”
While applauding the intervention of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, it is however absurd that he is asking Akpabio to name members of the National Assembly that cornered NDDC’s contracts.
“What more does Gbajabiamila want when Akpabio has already named the two chairmen of Niger Delta Affairs Committees in both chambers as the kingpins of the NDDC contract racketeering.
“He has equally promised that the Forensic Audit of the agency ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari will unearth the other culprits.
“Therefore the ultimatum given to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs by the Speaker is both hasty and self-serving and should be rescinded.”
According to him, not even the propaganda rescue of the ex-acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Joi Nunieh from arrest, has anything to do with the over N900 billion gone into the Niger Delta in 20 years.
He said: “The leadership of the National Assembly must join in on the mission to rescue, not hindering progress in the Niger Delta.
“The IMC is a child of necessity and we don’t need any distraction, even though many oxen have been gored.
He added: “Is there any conflict of interest against the Executive Director Projects for taking surgical look at projects purported to have been executed? Are the sordid revelations on site depriving absconded bogus contractor sleep?
“How can anyone in this day and age still be questioning the ability of a Professional in fields like Robotics, Projects Management, Medicine, Artificial intelligence etc as to his or her ability to fit in as square peg in a square in terms of governance.
“Is a lawyer not the Minister of Works? Is a Doctor not the Minister of Labour? Are doctors not governors? So why give a dog a bad name to hang it? Dr Cairo Ojougbo is fit for the job, and you can’t fault the wisdom of the President.”
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