The immediate past Acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. Joy Nuniel, on Friday recounted how pressure was mounted on her to give out Christmas palliatives last year to the tune of N10 billion.
Her refusal to play ball, she told the House of Representatives on Niger Delta, was one of the ‘sins’ that cost her the appointment.
Appearing before the House of Reps on the Zoom platform on Friday, Nunieh said all the talk about forensic audit in the NDDC was untrue as no such audit has started despite alleged huge payments made for the purpose.
She said: “Two days after our inauguration, at the same Le Meridien Hotel (Port Harcourt), that was his first meeting with the IMC (Interim Management Committee), namely Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; the late EDFA, which I will not be talking about much, let me respect his soul, and the only other staff of the NDDC that was there, one Mr. Etiebet, who later became the head of the procurement unit.
“At that meeting, he (Akpabio) reminded me about the dollars. Secondly, he told me that he wanted me to send some staff away; that they were the ones that spoilt Mrs Akwagaga (Enyia) who refused to sign and make certain payments and that he did not want them to spoil me.
“He said the first thing I would do was to write a letter to him – he gave me the draft; that I should put it on my letterhead. In that letter, I was supposed to write that Senator (Peter) Nwaboshi owned the 98 companies. I never ever told the world that Senator Nwaboshi was the senator that was collecting the N1 billion.
“The issue of the N1 billion was different. I said how can an individual be collecting N1 billion every month? The case of Senator Nwaboshi is the case of the 98 companies which I was supposed to write about.
“The other thing was for employment. Of course, he had collected CVs from all gangs of godfathers. I also said I’m from the Niger Delta, and before I came, there was the issue of employment. The Federal Character Commission was giving NDDC the approval for employment, but that was stopped because of the scandal. I want to tell the world that I never did any employment. I never gave out a single contract from NDDC.”
On claims of corruption against her, she said: “I am not corrupt. No contractor can sit anywhere and say they gave me N10. And I can say before the world that I’m the most unpopular MD ever that came to NDDC.
“The money of the people of Niger Delta is blood money; I refused to touch it. Even when my friends were contractors, even when they claimed that they were owed monies, my instruction was that everybody should go and finish their jobs.
“Everybody saw contractors go back to sites when I was MD. I was privileged to see all the videos. For one job, five people would send me videos of completion – the same job, the same video – and I would just laugh.”
The former NDDC chief blamed the problems in the NDDC on three groups.
Her words: “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.
“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.
“The second class is the staff. The staff of NDDC are from the Niger Delta region. The contracts that have been awarded are for their communities.
“When I was appointed, I went from office to office; I sat in their offices and I told them, ‘You people are responsible for what has gone wrong in the zone.’
“All the staff have in their wards or local government areas projects. If every staff of NDDC takes up a project in their local government area and ensures that they are well done, we will not have these issues.
“Thirdly, the IMC. For the first time in the history of NDDC, no palliatives were given. I did not give out Christmas palliatives. I was under pressure to bring N10bn – N1bn per state – but I refused. The youths were complaining that things were difficult and I said ‘the day I give you this money, you know I have started collecting your money.’
“I never gave any Christmas bonus or palliative during my time. For the first time in the history of NDDC, NDDC worked throughout December. There was no break except on public holidays.”