Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
A former Minister of Sports, Engr Bala Ka’Oje, said on Saturday that some government agencies and parastatals awarded contracts before they were advertised.
Ka’Oje, who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said in a chat with our correspondent that many Nigerians spent huge sums of money to get pre-qualification papers not knowing that the contracts had been awarded.
He said: “This government came under the mantra of change and fight against corruption as among the cardinal focus, should we be talking about corruption by now?
“To be honest with you, fighting corruption is not easy. The government has been trying the best it can within the past four years. But corruption is extremely difficult to tackle, it is very difficult to identify who and who and where and where corruption is taking place and how.
“For example, I was reading in the papers where some NGOs led by one Indian talking about citizen participation in governance. Now what they are talking about basically is that the way they see things there is no equitable distribution of resources in the country and their statement from what I read is very clear. What they said is quite true.
“All the contracts that are awarded in Nigeria as of today, to be specific the smaller contracts are awarded before they were advertised. The big contracts undergo some very serious scrutiny.
“For example, the President signed a rail contract of $3. 9 billion, those kinds of contracts undergo serious scrutiny before they are being awarded.
“But those smaller contracts that are advertised either in the tenders journal or sometimes in the print media many people go out there to tender for them.
“But to be honest, the stories that we are hearing are appalling in the sense that a common man who does not have contact in an agency or ministry cannot be able to get a contract awarded to him even if he has the best tender that is responsive to that particular project.
“Because those in power had distributed these projects already even before they are advertised.”
On what was responsible for collapsed roads and the possible way to correct the problem, he attributed the problem to a lack of maintenance culture.
The ex-minister added: ” First of all we lack maintenance culture in Nigeria. All these budgets you see year in year out, you hardly see funds allocated for maintenance both for roads and other infrastructures including office buildings in the seat of government, Abuja.
“For example apart from the issue of roads, you see the Federal Secretariat and you know the state in which the federal secretariat is, it is an edifice that this government needs to showcase. But how do you showcase something that is dilapidating and nobody is putting money to get it maintained?