The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) acting Executive Director (Projects), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, on Wednesday, September 2, denied reports the agency paid members of the Senate N20 million each as COVID-19 palliatives.
It was reported in the media that Ojougboh allegedly revealed that the monies were paid to the lawmakers as COVID-19 palliative by the NDDC.
The Senate, following the report, had challenged the NDDC acting executive director to provide proof of his alleged claim.
But in a statement on Tuesday, Ojougboh denied making any such claim.
His statement reads in part: “I want to state without equivocation, without any hint of doubt; that I neither issued, nor made, such a statement. Indeed, there is no provision in the Commission’s budget for such a payment.
“Let me make it clear, with all due respect to the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly; as well as to the entire Nigeria public; that I would have resisted such a payment if it were ever brought up in the Commission.
“In the past few months, the Interim Management Committee, IMC has championed a campaign to cleanse the Commission of obvious corruption and frivolous payments and restore it to its core mandate of facilitating the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region. A pillar of this campaign is instituting due process and plugging every dubious hole through which the funds of the Commission are diverted and frittered away.
“To concoct this dubious; malicious; and infantile lie against me; therefore, shows the extent, and how low, people can go to bring harm to individuals; and cause disaffection among people and between institutions.
“As a former member of the National Assembly, I hold that institution in the highest esteem; and will not undermine nor denigrate its integrity.
“I have always stated that I am a man of peace and a soldier of truth. I have enough integrity and honour to stand by my statements. And let it be affirmed here that I do not issue statements on behalf of the Commission. I do this because it is important, as a man of honour; to speak up when my purpose is questioned; and my integrity and character are challenged.
“Consequently, I respectfully call on the Senate and the entire National Assembly to discountenance that report. Let me reiterate that I and the IMC; as well as the NDDC, will continue to work with the National Assembly to strengthen the Commission; and make it worthy to meet its Mandate and obligations to the Niger Delta region.”