By Kingsley Fanwo
Kogi State Governor-Elect, Alh. Yahaya Bello has cautioned the outgoing administration in the state against awarding frivolous contracts which may plunge the state into further financial quagmire.
Speaking through his media office, the Governor-Elect cautioned the Wada Administration against attempts at crippling the incoming administration through award of contracts without following due process, saying the government should act within the ambit of law.
“Our attention has been drawn to some hasty contracts about to be awarded by the government through the State Universal Education Board, SUBEB. In as much as we are aware that the government still have up till January 27, 2016 to act on behalf and in trust for the Kogi people, restraints are required to ensure the state is not plunged into further debts.
“Information at our disposal shows that despite the failure of government to judiciously account for the 1.7 billion naira, of which the state paid 872 million naira as counterpart fund with the Universal Basic Education providing the balance of 872 million naira balance intervention fund.
“We are also aware that the 872 million naira counterpart fund paid by government was a facility from Zenith Bank which government will have to service.
“Having frittered away the funds with many contractors defaulting on the contractual agreements, we expect the government to tighten the noose on the contractors and ensure the people of the state get value for money.
“To compound the situation, government had secured another 2.1 billion naira from Zenith Bank in order to access another 2.1 billion naira. With the 4.2 billion naira already in the kitty, government has now gone on a spending spree, awarding frivolous contracts to company that had not even completed their registration processes at the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“We are concerned that despite owing contractors over a billion naira on previous SUBEB projects, the government has completely ignored the necessity to settle its previous debts before awarding others.
“Also, we have found it difficult to helm up the fact that contractors were owed for jobs which funds had been collected by the government.
“Our concern is hinged on the fact that, with the level of indebtedness in Kogi State, it will be unfair to further cripple the state by plunging us into further debts when our civil servants are being owed several monthly salaries. We urge the government to halt further action on the new contracts to ensure accountability”.
Speaking to Vanguard in Lokoja over the weekend, one of the contractors who handled the earlier contract in Kogi West, said he had completed his own project but has only been paid 60% of the contract sum.
In his words: “I did my job to specifications and finished in record time. But as I speak to you, Kogi SUBEB is still owing me 40% of the contract sum. We spent our money to complete the projects and now they are awarding fresh contracts to those who didn’t do anything on the sites of contracts earlier awarded to them.
I can’t imagine what the government is trying to do now. They are owing us and at the same time, awarding fresh contracts to people who are just rushing back to complete their company registration”.
Reacting to the allegations of unwholesomeness in contract award, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Strategy, Mr. Jacob Edi said the allegations were unfounded.
According to him, the awarded projects are ongoing across the state, as none of the projects has been abandoned. He said the allegations were a figment of the imagination of the author.
“I will advise Alh. Yahaya Bello to get his acts right before dabbling into the issue of governance. Capt Idris Wada is a man of integrity who believes in due process.
“As far as we are concerned, the governor has nothing to hide. That was why he set up a Transition Committee.
Bello should concentrate on wriggling out of the crisis rocking his election and be prepared to meet us at the tribunal”.
However, a source in the Kogi State Universal Basic Education Board said due process was followed in the award of the contracts. The source who craved anonymity also said the companies that submitted bids are competent to execute the projects.