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“Honourable Minister, Off Your Mic” was to Protect Tunji Ojo!!!

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Corruption is a word that has been associated with Nigeria for a very long time. Many events in our very rich political history epitomize the word. Some of these events even predate the country’s independence, and there have been quite a number afterwards.

One of Nigeria’s biggest Corruption scandals that shook the country to its foundation occurred during the last administration (2020) when the current Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, was minister of the Niger Delta, the now embattled minister of interior was a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the oversight committee of the Niger Delta Commission and Ministry.

Recall that Akpabio disclosed that the members of the National Assembly were the beneficiaries of most of the NDDC contracts. He said this when the committee invited him to shed light on the findings of a forensic audit report. Akpabio said, “I just told you that we have records to show that most of the contracts in the NDDC are given out to members of the National Assembly.”

The disclosure led to the deputy chairman of the panel saying, “Honourable minister, off your mic” to forestall Akpabio from making more revelations that may implicate them further. The chairman of the panel, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, later recused himself allegedly because he was a beneficiary, exactly like Akpabio said.

In fact, at the time, Tunji Ojo was accused by members of the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC of executing contracts from the commission despite being the chairman of a House committee charged with the oversight mandate of the same commission. Akpabio specifically mentioned that Tunji Ojo had inserted 19 contracts worth 9 billion naira into the 2019 NDDC budget.

Akpabio also said, “It has always been known that the two chairmen of the committees on the NDDC in both chambers yearly exhibit unusual influence to the exclusion of committee members and even the management of the NDDC in appropriating funds to details embellished in the budget after the passage of line items at the plenaries.”

By a twist of fate (or, more accurately, Nigeria’s twisted political landscape that retains the same individuals in every administration with switched roles), the roles have been somewhat reversed. Tunji Ojo is now minister, while Akpabio is now a member of the National Assembly. Tunji-Ojo, who has been embroiled in the corruption allegation originally involving the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, may at some point be investigated by a committee of the National Assembly.

Although the committee may not be directly headed by Akpabio, whatever findings are made will definitely end up on his table. This would mean the tale of corruption as regards these two individuals has come full cycle.

Going by Akpabio’s comments from the 2020 NDDC probe, Tunji Ojo is an experienced swimmer in the ocean of conflict of interest. This defeats whatever defense the minister or his apologists may want to put up as regards his latest scandal which is another case of conflict of interest.

But more importantly, if the star minister of the Tinubu administration (even the opposition has grudgingly admitted that he has been very proactive) is this corrupt, what would be found out if his more laid-back colleagues come under the microscope?

 

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