Spokesperson of the People Democratic Party (PDP) and a former commissioner in Edo State under the Oshiomhole administration, Kassim Afegbua, has defended the former governor’s actions in regards to the upfront payment of 75% for the construction of the Edo Specialist Hospital.
Oshiomhole had come under fire for allegedly breaching the state’s Public Procurement Law (during his tenure) which states that any contractor working on a government project should not receive more than 25% upfront payment upon the award of a contract.
But according to Afegbua, the 75% upfront payment was done in view of the fact that the equipment are state of the art items and also, “so that the company would not default in terms of manufacturing them”.
“These are not items you can buy across the counter. They are items that have to be manufactured to suit specifications,” he said on Wednesday during an interview with press.
Afegbua further explained that Section 47 of the procurement law, however, contains some exceptions which include that “in the event that you are going to pay more than 25%, there has to be a written request from the company. There also has to be a bank guarantee and or, an insurance bond to ensure that when you pay such amount of money, the contractor will not run away from site.
“So what we did as an EXCO, a body for which Governor Obaseki was part and parcel, was not out of place,” he said.
His comments were in response to allegations by Andrew Emwanta, the Senior Special Adviser on Public Affairs to Governor Obaseki, against the Oshimhole administration.
Emwanta who was also a guest on the programme, had stated that not only was the payment of the 75% a breach of the law, but no equipment were actually delivered.
Speaking further, the SSA alleged that when President Muhammadu Buhari came to commission the hospital towards the end of Oshiomhole’s government, the equipment in the hospital were all hired from Lagos.
After the commissioning, according to him, the equipment were returned and the hospital was placed under lock and key.
“So when I hear the former governor talk about how the place was locked, he himself, locked the hospital.
“When the (new) governor came, the hospital was opened and we discovered that there were no equipment because when they hired these equipment from Lagos, before Oshiomhole left the government, they returned this equipment and there is no way the government can conceal such a public trust because health is at the core of every government policy,” Emwata said.
But Afegbua debunked the claims about the hired equipment, noting that the hospital is 75% ready in terms of equipment, 100% ready in terms of structure and set to function.
He also insisted that Governor Obaseki was not only aware of the process but was at the time, a member of the EXCO who saw to the execution of the payment plan.
“When we were approving that contract in 2016, as a government, as an EXCO, Governor Godwin Obaseki was our colleague then. He was part and parcel of the EXCO.
“He also was one of those who gave advice that it would be better for us to have a 75% advance payment so that we can meet the fluctuations that were imminently going to happen as a result of our Naira devaluation,” he said.
According to him, “the same government on September 18, 2018, wrote a letter of commendation to Vamed (the Contractors) for having fulfilled the terms of contract of supply of equipment to that hospital.
“For you to now set up a commission of enquiry indicting us, it means that Obaseki is also indicted so, If he wants to try us, he should also remove his immunity and join us in the dock so that we can be tried together”.
Speaking further, the PDP spokesperson said he believes that the present government has deliberately refused to bring in and train personnel that would utilize the “sophisticated” equipment at the hospital, all in the bid to blackmail the past administration.
Meanwhile, Obaseki had earlier in the week assured the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that anyone found culpable, no matter how highly-placed, will be called to account for their action.
“We have been putting the right measures in place and if there are resources of government that need to be returned back, we will not hesitate to ask for it,” he said.
“Since I came into office, you can’t find this type of breach that you have mentioned. If people have to face prosecution, whether civil or criminal, they will have to be prosecuted”.
N2bn Controversy: Ebonyi Indigenes Want EFCC, Others to Probe State Financial Records
Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has asked the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies to embark on a comprehensive probe of the state financial records in the last 16 years.
The association specifically called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) the Directorate of State Services (DSS) and the Police to bring to book all those who have caused the state economic doldrums and future dooms beginning from the Sam Egwu-led administration to Elechi and now, the Dave Umahi-led government.
In a statement signed on Sunday by the President worldwide of the association, Ambassador Pascal Oluchukwu, said the probe become necessary over alleged mismanagement of a N2 Billion loan given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the state government under the leadership of Engr. David Nweze Umahi, for the 2016 farming season.
“We are aware that it all started with the courage and boldness of one of the enlightened citizens of the state and former Secretary to the Ebonyi State Government, Professor Benard Odoh to hold the Umahi-led administration accountable especially with regards to the disturbing statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics which recently named our State as the 3rd poorest in the federation and information from the Debt Management Office, DMO which indicates that the present government has increased the State’s domestic and external borrowings.
“Already, Prof. Odoh had in his response to the allegations maintained that he had no hands in the disbursements of the said fund as his role was merely limited to providing strategic leadership for the supervising Ministry of Agriculture as then headed by Barr. Uchenna Orji as a Commissioner.
“After making startling disclosures to the effect that only a little over N900m out of the total sum were released to the committee for disbursements and purchase of tractors, a seemingly confident Odoh has filed a petition to the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) inviting it to probe all persons involved in the matter while also stunningly offering himself to be investigated.
“AESID as a non-governmental organization whose mandate is to protect and safeguard the interests and welfare of the common Ebonyian, we laud the steps taken so far by the former SSG, Prof. Odoh in reporting this matter to the EFCC which is indeed the appropriate body to investigate financial crimes and prosecute offenders as being in the right direction. This is because it is only reasonable that the accuser whose present and former appointees are also being questioned cannot be the judge in their own case.”
While condemning what it called witch-hunting, intimidations and harassments of the former SSG Prof. Odoh, the group said: “We strongly believe that the state would be saved from an impending economic doom if its financial records are holistically ascertained and offenders who have plundered its resources made to face the wraths of the law.
“There exist in our beloved state, many phony contracts and projects which have remained uncompleted several years after they were awarded till date while the contractors obviously live large on public funds meant for their executions. Also, many funds, grants and loans given the State which is still being repaid from the allocations as debts have remained largely unaccounted for. This has severely hampered developments on all fronts in critical sectors in the State such as; Education, Health, Agriculture, Economic and Human capacity developments and Empowerment, Youths and Sports development among several others.
“In specific terms, we were reliably informed that the Engr. David Umahi-led government for instance has accessed many grants such as N6bn UBEB funds which could not be secured by the previous Elechi administration. Also, information at our disposal indicates that the same government has in the last 5 years accessed a total of over N9bn so far as Agric loans for farmers from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. Despite these humongous sums and the fact that the government prides itself as investing heavily in the Agricultural sector, we are terribly disappointed that our dear State only boasts of getting most of its rice from some northern and neighbouring States for milling and packaging as the ‘Abakaliki’ brand of local rice.
“Like the rest of Ebonyi people who have been made to believe that this step was meant to save cost for the government and the people, we demand to know: How much exactly have been saved by the government through this use of direct labours by the Umahi-led administration?
“To this end therefore, we also call on other anti-graft agencies such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) including the Directorate of State Services (DSS) the Police and indeed, any agency that is responsible for law enforcement and justice implementation in Nigeria to wade in and ensure that fairness and justice is not only seen to be done but actually done and the state’s looted resources recovered.
“It is our strong believe that this probe would be in the overall interest of the Ebonyi masses,” the statement said.
Governors Loses Control Of State Judiciary And Legislature
Governors of the 36 states of the federation have lost control over states judiciary and legislature due to Executive Order No.10 of 2020 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari which grants financial autonomy to states Legislature and Judiciary.
The federal government released details of the Executive Order No.10 of 2020, four days after it was signed into law by President Mohammadu Buhari.
President Muhammadu Buhari
The details signals the implementation of Financial Autonomy for the State Legislature and Judiciary Order of 2020.
With Buhari’s assent, the legislative and judicial arms of government in the 36 states of the federation will no longer have to wait on State governors for funds.
Speaking to journalist, Umar Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media to Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said President Buhari’s decision was based on Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended).
Full statement of President Buhari orders:
1. Appropriation, Authorisation, Orders, etc:
(a) Without prejudice to any other applicable laws, legislations and conventions at the State tier of Government, which also provides for financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary, allocation of appropriated funds to the State Legislature and State Judiciary in the State appropriation laws in the annual budget of the State, shall be a charge upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State, as a First Line Charge.
(b) The Accountant-General of the Federation shall by this Order and such any other Orders, Regulations or Guidelines as may be issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, authorise the deduction from source, in the course of Federation Accounts Allocation from the money allocated to any State of the Federation that fails to release allocation meant for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with the financial autonomy guaranteed by Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended).
2. Determination of the Budget:
Notwithstanding the provisions of any existing law, convention or regulation, other than the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended), providing for appropriation or management of funds at the State tier of Government as follows:
(a) every State Government of the Federation shall set up a Committee from the commencement of this Executive Order comprising the Commissioner of Finance, Accountant-General of the State, representative of the State Budget Office, Chief Registrars of State High Court, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal, (where applicable), the Clerk to the State House of Assembly and the Secretary of the State Judicial Service Committee or Commission;
(b) where applicable, determine and ascertain from the Revenue profile of the State, a workable budget for each Arm of the State Government based on the request and needs of the Accounting Officers; and (c) the Committee shall be given and accorded legal recognition in the various relevant appropriation or Funds Management Laws of the States.
3. Creation of State Judiciary Budget Committee:
(a) For the purpose of Appropriation to the State Judiciary, each State Judiciary of the federation shall set up a State Judiciary Budget Committee (in this Order referred to as “a Committee”) to serves as an administrative body to prepare, administer and implement the budget of the State Judiciary with such modifications as may be required to meet the needs of the State Judiciary.
(b) The Committee shall consist of the State Chief Judge as the Chairman with the Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, the President, Customary Court of Appeal, where applicable and two members of the Judicial Service Committee or Judicial Service Commission to be appointed by the Chief Judge, in consultation with other Members of the Committee, to serve as Members.
(c) The Chief Registrar of the State High Court is to serve as Secretary.
(d) The modalities for budget preparations and implementation shall include but not limited to the following:
(i) upon the receipt of the Budget Estimates of the Fiscal Year for the State Judiciary, the State Judiciary Budget Committee shall invite all the Accounting Officers of the various Courts/Judicial Bodies to defend their budget estimates;
(ii) the budget estimates for Courts and Judicial bodies shall be based on expenditure line items given to them by the State Judiciary Budget Committee which shall be defended before the State House of Assembly; and
(iii) upon the appropriation of Funds, the State Judiciary Budget Committee shall on a monthly basis or as the case may be, request the Budget Office of the State to release the statutory allocation for the quarter or monthly and the Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) shall be raised by the Office of the Accountant-General of the State for the release of the Fund to all the Heads of Courts/Judicial Bodies in line with the Appropriation Law.
4. Budget Preparation, Templates and Modalities:
(a) Without prejudice to any existing budget templates in force in any State of the federation, the State Legislature and State Judiciary shall continue to maintain the strata of line consultations, inter Arms and inter-Agency pre-budget consultations and frontloading as is done in some States.
(b) The budget templates and models in the schedule to this Executive Order shall apply to State Legislature and State Judiciary with modifications, in compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) and such other applicable Laws.
5. Appropriation and Supplementary Appropriation Law, etc:
(a) At the commencement of this Order for implementation of financial autonomy for State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), all States of the Federation shall include the allocations of the two Arms of Government in their Appropriation Laws.
(b) Where Appropriation Law exists in any State of the federation before the commencement and implementation of this Order, such States shall amend their Appropriation Law to encompass financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary.
(c) This Order expects States without Appropriation Law on the financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary to do so.
6. Special Allocation for the Judiciary:
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Executive Order, in the first three years of its implementation, there shall be special extraordinary capital allocations for the Judiciary to undertake capital development of State Judiciary Complexes, High Court Complexes, Sharia Court of Appeal, Customary Court of Appeal and Court Complexes of other Courts befitting the status of a Courts.
(b) In this section, “Other Courts” includes Magistrate Courts, District Courts, Customary Courts and Area Courts.
7. Implementation of this Order:
(a) Subject to section 8(1) of this Order, implementation of the provisions of this Order shall be carried out by the Presidential Implementation Committee in accordance with its recommendations.
(b) To the extent as may be permitted by law, the Accountant-General of the Federation shall take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Order and implementation of the recommendations of the Committee, as may from time to time be made.
(c) This Order shall be implemented consistently with States applicable laws that guarantee financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary and subject to the availability of funds.
8. Citation: This ORDER may be cited as the Implementation of Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary Order, 2020.
9. Commencement: This Executive Order shall take effect from this 20th Day of May 2020.
Secondus Berates Buhari’s Performance After Five Years In Office
The national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Uche Secondus, has described the five years’ administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as a waste and a road that ought not to be taken.
In a statement on Friday, the PDP national chairman said that in the last five years, all negative indexes in the country’s socio-political and economic life as a nation were activated.
Speaking further, he noted that in 2015, the global international community stood in salute for Nigeria for the great feat recorded in the area of democracy but rather than progress from it, the nation under the watch of the APC has continued to go in retrogression.
In the key areas of security, corruption, threats on democratic institutions, unity of the country and economic development on which the Buhari administration had hinged its promises to Nigerians, the PDP also scored the administration low.
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