Joy Nunieh, a former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), says during her time as head of the agency, she was asked to spend N10 billion on Christmas bonus.
While testifying before the house of representatives committee on NDDC on Friday via teleconference, Nunieh said rejecting the idea contributed to her removal from office.
She said if she had agreed, the 10 states under the commission would have got N1 billion each.
“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’,” she said.
“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.”
She also alleged that Godswill Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta affairs, hijacked the forensic audit of the commission ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“He (Akpabio) said the first thing I would do is to write a letter to him and he gave me the draft, that I should put it on my letterhead. In that letter, I was supposed to write about most of the companies; [That] senator Nwaoboshi owned the 98 companies,” she said.
“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 Nwaoboshi is the case of the 98 files which I was supposed to write about.
“What I met was not exactly what was going on. Akpabio insisted that he would supervise the forensic audit. I reminded him and showed him the letter that the president had written, that there is no way we could spend the money that was in our budget.”
Nunieh said under her, the commission did not award a single contract.
“I want to tell the world that I never did any employment. I never gave out a single contract from NDDC,” 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 finish their jobs. Everybody saw contractors going back to site when I was the MD.”
Nunieh could not appear before the panel to physically testify because police laid a siege to her residence in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
But for the arrival of Nyesom Wike, Rivers governor, she would have been arrested.
The president has since ordered the speedy conclusion of the audit of the commission’s finances from 2001 to 2019.
He ordered the audit in October last year.