By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio denied that he ever accused members of the National Assembly of collecting contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The Minister, during an investigative hearing at the House of Representatives, had claimed that 60% of NDDC contracts went to Federal lawmakers.
He however, at the National Assembly on Tuesday, denied that he never referred to Members of the 9th House of Representatives as beneficiaries of contracts in NDDC as the Commission is yet to fully implement any budget, since the commencement of the 9th National Assembly, when the House threatened to initiate a criminal complaint of perjury and explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit against him.
Also, Akpabio while responding to questions after visiting the Acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Olatunde Ojo on Tuesday said the misunderstanding between him and lawmakers was caused by mischief makers.
Akpabio explained that: “Just to congratulate him to send my regards and solicit continuous cooperation of the national Assembly towards the development of the Niger Dela region and in any case you know I’m a Senator, seeing me in the National Assembly should not be a surprise. As a former Minority Leader and a Distinguished Senator, and I believe that I’m a Senator for life.
“So nobody will refer to me as Governor Godswill Akpabio, but they refer to me as Senator Godswill Akpabio. This is like homecoming and the national Assembly ought to have resume today but they postponed it so I intended that as soon as the resumption takes place I am here; it’s part of my effort to support the President’s decision that there must be a much more cordial between the Executive and Legislature relations.
“In fact, the President recently set up a tripartite committee made up of the party (APC), the National Assembly and the Executive to ensure oneness because we are running one government and it is important that we all remember that whatever we do, we want to leave a legacy for Nigeria and we cannot do this, if all the arms of government are not cooperating.
“So far, I believe that whatever disagreement that could have occurred between my own Ministry and the National Assembly must have been as a result of mischief and that mischief must be put to rest so that we can work in one accord for the sake of the nation.
“It is important that as a Minister I should work towards ensuring that, that corporation comes on board so that it can benefit the people of Niger Delta.
“The National Assembly is National Assembly, we must ensure that there is harmony between the Legislature and the Executive; today we have a better National Assembly in terms of Legislative-Executive harmony and cordiality.
“Here and there; even in the family, sometimes the husband and wife may have issues and sometimes the brothers and sisters may have issues but it is the way they resolve the issues that makes the family strong.
My presence here is a way to emphasize that I’m a Senator forever and then national Assembly remains my home. So the issue of whether you go to this arm or that arm does not arise. It’s totality of the National Assembly that harmony must occur between the Executive and the Legislature”.
Responding to a question on the peace talk being initiated and whether he has resolved to exonerate the lawmakers who allegedly collected 60% of the contracts in NDDC, Senator Akpabio said: “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 (Speaker) did not say whether they were contractors, so I’m hearing it from you”.
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