Challenges critics to present evidence of contract irregularities
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
A Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Tuesday, condemned media report on a Permanent Secretary in Delta State Civil Service, Edwin Ogidi Gbegbaje, and Directorate of Protocol, Delta State Government House, Edwin Ogidi Gbegbaje over alleged contract execution.
This was contained in a statement signed by Convener, Competent Governance for Accountability and Civic Trust, CGACT, Amb Godwin Erheriene, debunking the media report by one of the online media platforms.
According to the statement, the report was totally misleading and geared towards defaming and tarnishing the image of Gbegbaje as a public office over the alleged painting contract of two buildings and others.
The media report alleged that the officials awarded the contract on painting two buildings at the VVIP Guest House, Asaba, purchase of 30 hampers, furnishing of Governor’s Office Annex Warri, furnishing of the Office of Her Excellency, wife of the Executive Governor, purchase of ‘golden spoons’ for godfathers and procurement of DICENTIS Wireless Conference System microphone.
The group also pointed that those behind this were government officials working in Delta State Government House were apparently some “disgruntled officials” who are working against the interest of the State and try to take advantage of gullible citizens of the state and beyond and finds it “difficult to make their own findings on an issue.”
The statement reads in part, “We the civil society organizations hereby wish to bring to the public on the unfounded allegation against the person of Mr. Edwin Ogidi Gbegbaje, Permanent Secretary and Directorate of Protocol Delta State Government House, Asaba. Based on our findings, the allegations that he single-handedly performed the functions of MDAs is totally misleading and geared towards defaming the officer.
“Like the allegation of a painting of two buildings at the VVIP Guest House, Asaba, purchase of 30 hampers, furnishing of Governor’s Office Annex Warri, furnishing of the Office of Her Excellency, wife of the Executive Governor, purchase of “golden spoons” for godfathers and procurement of DICENTIS Wireless Conference System microphone (BOSCH).
“We all know the procedures awarding Government contract at all levels of Government, be it, Local, State or Federal. All contracts have to go through Government bureaucracy, which means the contract has to be verified from one office to another for proper Government scrutiny, and accountability.”
The group further pointed that, “However, we all know the protocols in Government, as Permanent Secretary in MDAs are the accounting officers and required by rules to sign a cheque and disburse funds.
“The Permanent Secretary does not have the required prerequisite to approving project neither do the office draw up Bill Of Quantities (BOQs)/Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) all this requires the inputs and reports from respective MDAs as the case may be: the State Executive Council, His Excellency, the Governor, His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, Honourable Commissioner and the Secretary to the State Government.
“Furthermore, Certificate of completion of works for the project must be issued by the affected MDA or Audit Certificate issued by the Office of the Auditor-General (State), for procurements made.
“This being the case, how then can the office of the Permanent Secretary and Directorate of Protocol, single-handedly carry out all these activities being arrogated to him?
“On the allegation that the VVIP jobs were not fully executed and monies misappropriated, we did our findings as a civil societies organizations, and we discovered that the VVIP burnt property renovation works were carried out by contract, after the inputs of the Ministry of Housing and the State Fire Service, which was invited on three occasions to put out the fire in the facility.
“We also discovered that jobs assessments and certificates of job completion were issued by the appropriate MDA. As Practitioners, we carry out our research before we go public.”
The group also pointed that, “Other than the intent to defame or do the ‘let’s bring him down syndrome’, why name the Permanent Secretary, Government House as solely responsible for a job executed by contract after the input of the relevant MDAs and duly approved by the Governor? Leaks do unmitigated damage to Government and are the easiest way to destroy the reputation of persons.
“The report published by this media house and cohort is so amateur and has failed to impress the public, except the gullible ones. They are deliberate attempts to achieve a purpose. The State Government must take care of its backyard because that is where most damaging leaks come from.
“We would therefore advise that the reporters should not only double-check their information as well as the source but also carry out a critical investigation into the person of Mr. Edwin Ogidi-Gbegbaje. We make bold to say this because we have also heard so many positive things about him.
“History holds the record of everyone and as a result, we should not forget that one day we all will definitely be judged by our actions and inactions. John Adams Quincy once said, ‘duty is ours and result is God’. A time which is the revealer of all truths will tell how far they would fare in their journey to self-destruction.”