10th NASS: Akpabio’s Bid Faces Fresh Hurdle as Lawan Orders Probe of ‘Missing’ NDDC N1.4 Trillion

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The Senate Presidency bid of ex-Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, is facing fresh hurdles after the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, ordered a probe into how a whopping N1.4 trillion was allegedly spent without appropriation.

The probe is being seen as an assault on Akpabio’s bid to clinch the position of the Senate President.

Akpabio was not Lawan’s preferred choice for the position with sources saying the Senate President prefers either the Northwest or Southeast for the number three position in the land.

Although Akpabio was Minister of Niger Delta, the NDDC has its board with independent operational guidelines.

During his stint as Minister, there was frequent friction between him and the commission with several reports of Illegal approval and expenses executed by orders from the Minister.

Akpabio also faced serious inquest from the parliament when the budget of the commission was under consideration.

While the upper legislative chamber went silent over certain grey areas regarding the Commission’s expenditure almost a year after Akpabio resigned as Minister, the red chamber commenced immediate investigation into what it called questionable expenditures.

The upper house is accusing NDDC of lack of transparency and accountability amounting to N1.4 trillion, tasking its committee on Wednesday to investigate and report back within one week.

The probe followed a motion by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi) during consideration of a report by the Committee on Niger Delta on NDDC’s 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets.

Various speakers alleged that the money may have disappeared which was why the lawmakers were not asked to consider an appropriation before it was used.

The committee, chaired by Senator Bulus Amos (APC, Gombe), had submitted its report on Tuesday and urged the Senate to approve the budget estimates of 2021 and 2022 financial years, amounting to N1.4 trillion.

This was after the President, Muhammadu Buhari had requested the Senate to approve the Commission’s budgets for 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The president explained that a total budget of N485.7 billion was proposed for the NDDC in 2021, N928.2 billion for 2022, and N876 billion for 2023.

Following the submission of the report by the Amos Committee, the red chamber discovered that N1.4 trillion could not be accounted for with no justification.

The upper house frowned at expenditure before approval and wondered why a whopping amount could be spent before an approval could be sought.

Leading the protest and an inquest during plenary, Senator Aliero faulted the recommendation of the committee which sought passage of the Commission’s budgets.

According to the senator, it’s against the NDDC act for passage of budget estimates let alone approving a budget that has been spent before parliamentary approval.

He was supported by other senators notably Seriake Dickson (PDP, Bayelsa) and Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos).

Adeola specifically called for a thorough probe of the budget estimate.

Consequently, Lawan empaneled a committee composed of Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf (APC, Taraba), Seriake Dickson, Uche Ekwunife, Abdullahi Yahaya, Saidu Alkali, Adetunmbi Olubumi and Sadiq Sulaiman to investigate and submit its report to the plenary within a week.

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