Akpabio, Nunieh in uncouth exchange over NDDC’s unaccounted N40bn

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*Akpabio, Nunieh

The minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio and the former acting managing director of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Ms Joy Nunieh have traded words  following revelations at the ongoing open investigative hearing by the Senate regarding the alleged reckless spending of N40 billion.

Nunieh had made some disturbing revelations about the minister on his handling of the ministry and the NDDC.

Addressing the press after she appeared before Senate ad-hoc committee investigating NDDC, Nunieh recounted her ordeal at the hands of the minister before she was removed as the managing director of the NDDC.

She had claimed that nobody makes any payment in NDDC without the minister’s approval.

“When we first came, on the day of the inauguration, he said to me in the car, ‘Madam MD, if you don’t do what I say, the same pen with which I used to sign your paper is the same pen I’ll use to remove you.

“He said the first thing I should do when I get to Port Harcourt is to change the dollars in the NDDC account. I was scared to do that and he claimed that I have a poverty mentality; that I’m afraid of money. All of you knew that he accused me of refusing to spend money. It is strange today, it’s about money.

But Akpabio who denied the allegations in a television interview at the weekend described Nunieh as a “disgruntled former managing director who does not know that offices come and go.”

“I’m not supposed to join issues with her as a minister of the federal republic,” he said.

He said the reason for the controversies was because a forensic audit was ordered and those who have questions to answer are behind the attacks.

However, he said Nunieh was sacked because of insubordination.

“She was not relieved of her appointment because of corruption. She was relieved of her appointment because of insubordination.

“My ministry, which supervises her, wrote seven letters to her, but she never responded to one.

“My ministry that supervises her wrote her seven letters to her, she never responded to one. She said she is higher than a minster of Niger Delta,” he said.

He also stated that the former NDDC boss had issue with her qualification for the job.

“Besides, the then chief of staff to the president, (Abba Kyari) sent this petition to me from an anti-corruption agency insisting that she did not have the requisite qualification to work as the managing director of the NDDC.

Not done with that, the minister said Nunieh needed to see a doctor because she has temper issues and also directed the interviewer to consult Nunieh’s four former husbands whom he said she divorced to attest to her temperament.

“She, just like the former Minister of Finance, did not have an NYSC certificate. You know our law is either a certificate or an exemption letter. The problem here is that I have a soft heart.

Akpabio also denied that he ill-treated the Nunieh.

“I have four daughters and I love women. I didn’t sack her. The board approved her replacement. What I am saying is that you have to bring her back to appear on the studio to defend her certificate which she is parading,” he added.

It would be recalled that Nunieh assumed office as the acting managing director of the NDDC after the removal of Akwagaga Enyia in October 2019.

She was sacked four months later as the crisis rocking the commission over abuse of funds kept mounting.

President Muhammadu Buhari named Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei as her replacement in February.

Pondei on admitted that he spent N1.5 billion to “take care” of the commission’s staff as COVID-19 palliatives.

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