It has been revealed why the immediate past acting managing director of the NDDC, Dr. (Mrs) Enyia Akwagaga Leleguma, fell out with Senator Godswill Akpabio soon after the former governor of Akwa Ibom State assumed duties as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the supervising minister for the NDDC.
A top aide to Dr (Mrs) Leleguma said she and Akpabio parted ways when she refused to carry out a directive of the minister to pay over N30 billion for contracts which were not executed and were not meant to be executed.
The aide who wishes to be anonymous said the trouble arose from contract deals hatched between Senator Akpabio and a former acting managing director of the commission, Professor Nelson Brambaifa, just before Brambaifa’s tenure in the commission came to an end.
According to the story, Senator Akpabio and Professor Brambaifa agreed to issue and backdate letters of award for contracts worth about N30 billion for “emergency work and the desilting of the waterways” in the region. The source said the stated purpose in the contract letters was just for the record whereas the truth was that the entire contract deals were a big scam with neither a plan nor an intention to award and execute any contract for the benefit of the Niger Delta people.
Before the contract scam was executed, Professor Brambaifa was sacked and directed to hand over to the most senior director in the commission, who happened to be Dr. (Mrs) Enyia Akwagaga Leleguma.
After the exit of Brambaifa, the minister worked with the director of EPC in the commission, Engineer Sese, to issue certificates of completion of work for the phony contracts. With the certificates of completion of work in hand, the minister asked Professor Brambaifa’s successor, who was by now the new acting managing director, Dr (Mrs) Enyia Akwagaga Leleguma, to pay for the phony contracts.
The lady allegedly declined to pay, and raised queries about the regularity of the contract awards and doubt over the claims of work done.
From then on the relationship between the minister and the Dr (Mrs) Leleguma became sour and the two were barely on speaking terms.
Our source said Akpabio would call the woman on phone and shout at her over flimsy issues. On one occasion, according to the source, the lady broke down and wept all night in her hotel room in Abuja when the minister called to shout at her, accusing her of having been in Abuja for three days from her base in Port Harcourt without getting in touch with him as her supervising minister, whereas she had gone to meet with the Secretary to Government of the Federation and the Deputy Senate President, arguing that both officials were not those she was reporting to.
The aide said another point of friction between the minister and Dr (Mrs) Leleguma was the question of who should be paid among genuine contractors who had valid outstanding claims for contracts duly verified as having been executed. According to the story, only contractors approved by Akpabio were paid during the acting managing director’s tenure, and she dared not pay a contractor outside the minister’s list, irrespective of proof of work done.
The minister also reportedly did not want the acting managing director to interact with other government officials in Abuja. The minister was said to flare up any time the lady did so in line of duty.
When the minister assumed duty, he reportedly invited Dr (Mrs) Leleguma to his house where he introduced his business partner called Engineer Abu to the lady, claiming that Abu, who is a director in Rodnab Construction, had capacity to do contracts for the commission and that he was the one who built his Asokoro home. Incidentally, Abu is the contractor handling the new NDDC headquarters. Both Engineer Abu and one Ibanga Akpabio, said to be the minister’s younger brother, are the ones running the NDDC for the minister.
The aide said the relationship between the minister and the acting managing director was so tense that the lady came down with high blood pressure while her appointment lasted.