The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, inserted N500 million worth of projects into the 2017 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), according to a document released by the Senate.
Among the contracts inserted in the budget was the fencing of the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana, Akwa Ibom state, for the sum of N200 million and the fencing of the Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene, at the cost of N100 million.
The Chairman of the Senate panel on NDDC, Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP/Delta state) had accused Mr Akpabio of pushing in millions of projects into the NDDC budget while he was a senator, but the minister had denied the accusation.
The release of the document is to vindicate Mr Nwaoboshi’s claims, apparently.
Mr Akpabio, who was serving in the Senate as the minority leader then, said in a letter addressed to the chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta, that the projects he requested for inclusion in the NDDC budget were for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which he represented.
Apart from being a minority leader then, Mr Akpabio was also a member of the Senate committee on the NDDC.
Other projects requested for inclusion in the 2017 NDDC budget by Mr Akpabio included entrepreneurship training for the youth of Akwa Ibom North West District on the use of modern farming tools at the cost of N75 million and similar training for the women of the district at the cost of N75 million also.
There was also a hostel renovation project at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Mr Akpabio’s media aide, Anietie Ekong, told PREMIUM TIMES, Thursday morning, that there was “nothing extraordinary” about the document.
“In fact, it would have been a dereliction of duty if Senator Akpabio did not try to influence projects to his constituency. It was part of his legislative duties as the Senate minority leader to attract projects to his constituency.
“I don’t know what the hue is about,” Mr Ekong said.
PREMIUM TIMES pointed out to Mr Ekong that the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where Mr Akpabio also inserted a hostel renovation project was not within his senatorial district.
“There is an Akpabio hall in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, named after the Akpabio’s family,” Mr Ekong responded. “If the university can do his family that honour of naming a hall after him, is it too much to seek to renovate that all as part of his constituency projects.”
Mr Ekong said Mr Akpabio, while he was the Senate minority leader, did constituency projects as far as Eleme in Rivers state.
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Senate insiders said what senators usually do to enrich themselves is to insert projects into budgets and then go ahead to pick contractors who in turn execute those projects on their behalf.
Mr Ekong said the former senator did not have a hand in the contractors picked for the projects nor did he have any personal relationship with the contractors.
“Honestly, I am not even sure all the projects were awarded. I am not also sure of the status of the ones that were awarded,” he said.