Joy Nunieh, former acting managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has said the people of the region share part of the blame for the rot in the commission.
She said this while testifying before the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta via a Zoom meeting.
Nunieh said the people get excited when a new NDDC leader is appointed because they think it is their turn to taste the national cake rather than the development coming to the region.
She also blamed the commission’s Interim Management Committee (IMC) and the staff for the rot.
“One group is the management, which is the IMC, and everybody is against the IMC. The second group is the staff of NDDC. And the third group, which I will start with, is the people of Niger Delta.
“This story that we are all calling embarrassing stories cannot be complete without saying that the people of the Niger Delta region are responsible for what has happened – the frauds and corruption that have taken place in the NDDC. I’m speaking from personal experience,” she said.
“As soon as an MD is appointed, people begin to rejoice and celebrate, not because they want you to do the right thing; not because they are interested in the development of the Niger Delta; but because they believe that it is now their turn to eat of the national cake.
“They are not interested in anything. All they want is like palliatives. That is why for those who did not harden their heart like me, they fell for this palliative matter and they started giving out.
“But because I was strong; because I always remembered the case of Gani Fawehinmi. Fawehinmi fought for the masses of this country. When he said he wanted to contest an election, they were not there. I remember that I needed to stand properly.”
Nunieh also said she had been pressured to spend N10 billion on Christmas bonus last year, claiming her refusal is one of the undoings that cost her a permanent appointment at the commission.
She said that Godswill Akpabio, the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, misled Nigerians when he said that the National Assembly prompted her to move the forensic audit.
She denied reports that N642 million was paid by the IMC for media support for the forensic audit, saying while there as the MD, the only payment she made was directly to the media houses.
She claimed that she never paid any money for forensic audit since there was none going on and since the auditors had not been appointed because the appropriation for the audit had not been passed.
She also alleged that Senator Akpabio wanted her to award contracts for the supply of medical equipment which the commission already had in its store but she refused to oblige him, rather requesting him to pass on the instruction in writing.
On the way forward, she asked that the NDDC be taken away from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and put under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.