Cairo Ojougboh, Executive Director (Projects) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has denied a report ascribing him to have said federal lawmakers were given COVID-19 palliative by the commission.
Ojougboh made the rebuttal in a statement he signed on Tuesday.
According to the NDDC Director, there was no way the agency could have made such payments as there was no provision for such in the NDDC’s budget.
He stated that he would have resisted such a payment if it was brought up.
The statement read: “I read with utter dismay and surprise the report in the Tuesday edition of The Nation newspaper, titled ‘Senate Challenges NDDC over alleged N20m Palliatives’, stating that I issued a statement alleging that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC paid “varying sums of money as COVID-19 palliative” to members of the National Assembly.
“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.”
Ojougboh emphasised that the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC has championed a campaign to cleanse the commission of obvious corruption and frivolous payments.
“In the course of this campaign, it bears to emphasise once more that I and the IMC, as well as the Commission, have been clear to state that the National Assembly, as a distinguished body, as well as the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, are absolved of blame. The main body of the National Assembly is unaware of the happenings in the NDDC.
“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.
“My service to my fatherland and the zeal of my patriotism, as well as unwavering love for the wellbeing of the Niger Delta region and our people, will not allow me to denigrate the lofty institution such as the National Assembly, an important beacon of our collective democratic journey. As a former member of the National Assembly, I hold that institution in the highest esteem and will not undermine nor denigrate its integrity,” the statement read.
Ojougboh urged the Senate and the National Assembly to discountenance the report and assured them of the IMC’s cooperation to strengthen the NDDC and make it worthy to meet its obligations to the region.