By Ignatius Ushie
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, has dismissed as false and totally baseless, a series of allegations made against him, including an imaginary and libellous claim of N480 billion fraud.
In rejecting the false allegations made by professional petition writers to the National Assembly, Umana said no fraud has been committed under his watch in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and that no money has been released or expended on the projects cited in the petition.
In a statement made available to Transport Day in Abuja, the minister explained that in line with his directive at the last meeting of the National Council, adjustments had been made in the 2022 budget proposals of the NDDC to accommodate core regional infrastructure projects based on a new template for the development of the Niger Delta region.
“It is senseless for the petitioners to allege that the compilation of projects to include in the budget proposals of NDDC for 2022 for transmission to the National Assembly is a crime”.
According to him, “everything is at the proposal stage, no contracts have been awarded and no money has been disbursed or expended,” he said. “Anything to the contrary is false and should be dismissed in its entirety.”
Umana equally refuted another allegation in the petition that he sacked 700 workers in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on assumption of duty as minister.
Umana said he has not sacked or approved the sack of 700 workers of the Commission. The minister recalled that on assumption of duty, he was briefed by both the ministry and the NDDC, whose interim administrator at the time complained of a bloated staff strength which made him (the minister) to ask what the interim administrator had done about it.
The minister said after the inaugural briefing, the interim administrator of the NDDC never came back to him on any action he had taken or planned to take on the issue and that whatever he did about “the bloated staff strength” he had complained of had no ministerial approval.
Accordingly, it was explained that the allegation of non-performance peddled in the same petition is also baseless.