Did Babatunde Fashola, As Governor Of Lagos State, Spend N152m Of Tax Payers Money To Install Internet In His Office And Another N139m For Sinking Two Boreholes At Lagos House In Ikeja?
Amid rising credibility claims against politicians seeking a hold on President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, more details have emerged about contracts awarded by the government of Babatunde Raji Fashola in Lagos State.
Details of the contracts as awarded by Fashola’s administration are contained in a list published on the website of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency linked as www. lagosppa.gov.ng .
A statement on the website said ” The Lagos State Public Procurement Agency (the Agency) was established on the 2nd of April, 2012 under the Lagos State Public procurement Law, 2011 (the Law). The objectives of the Agency are to ensure probity, accountability and transparency in Public Procurement throughout Lagos State.
“The Agency is therefore charged with the responsibility of formulating policies and guidelines relating to procurement in Lagos State as well as certifying all Procurements prior to, during and after the awards of contract. Its scope of operation shall include the State Government, Local Government Councils/Development authority and all procuring entities in the State”.
Despite being established by Fashola, the agency listed that the governor approved contract for the “appointment of a tier one carrier as internet bandwidth provider for the state government” for N152 million with a two week completion time. The contract was awarded to MainOne.
An official of MainOne, when contacted, confirmed that the company was awarded the contract. He also confirmed that it was completed within schedule but refused to confirm if the company was paid N152 million for the job.
Speaking to The UNION, Head, Corporate Communications at Main- One Cable Company, Mrs. Frances Eza said she was aware that the company was appointed by Lagos Sate Government under Governor Fashola to provide Internet bandwidth for his office. She also confirmed that the project was executed “some time ago”.
Eza however said she does not have information as regards the exact amount her company executed the project for the Lagos State Government. According to her, only the marketing department could give exact amount and the time period the project was carried out.
When the our correspondent confronted her with the N152 million figure stated against the contract by the Lagos State Government, as listed on the website of Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, Mrs. Eza said “I can’t say the figure you mention is correct. You should have written us earlier that you need such information”. An Information Technology expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained to The UNION that the project as explained on the contract title, meant installation of internet facility for the state.
“What the project means is just to install internet broadband for the office,” he explained.
However, Fashola had attempted to explain away issues raised by civil society group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) against the award of a contract by him, for the upgrade of his personal website, for N78.3m as unnecessary.
The former Lagos State governor had in a press statement titled ‘Setting The Record Straight’, said the N78.3m website upgrade contract was misrepresented to the public by the government.
He had said: “As far as the website contract was concerned, yes there was a contract. It went through procurement and was approved by the government agency authorized to do so”, adding that the contact encompassed a gamut of other services of which upgrade was just an aspect.
“One of the services was an ‘upgrade’ quoted for N12.5 million but awarded for N12 million. There were other services that were new; like handover countdown clock, mobile apps for google, for IOS and Ipad, for Microsoft, and Research in Motion (Blackberry), which the existing website did not have, as well as annual maintenance cost for managing the website.
“It was for all these services that the contract was issued for N78 million, which the Lagos State Procurement Agency gave a No Objection based on the advice of the Ministry of Science and Technology, which is the government adviser on ICT matters”, Fashola explained. He also warned his traducers against pointing finger at him indicating that all of them are enmeshed in the same mud.
He said: “For those who wish to throw mud at me, they should look at their own hands”.
However, the former Lagos state governor failed to explain other outrageous contracts listed on the website of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency.
Some of such contracts include the award of a contract valued at N293,082,503.19 for the “procurement of LASRRA IT Support Infrastructure”, and another valued at N9,925,000.00 for the “procurement of 100,000 residency cards”; with another valued at N13,456,863.00 for the “procurement of LASRRA card printing facility”, with another valued at N94,953,600.00 for the “procurement of printer consumables”; with a further contract awarded at the cost of N39, 440, 000.00 for the “procurement if printers inks or mobile printers”. All these contracts were awarded in the favour of Lagos State Residents Registration Agency.
Fashola’s administration also listed as having awarded a contract valued at N329,929,551.00 to an architectural and finishing firm, for the “proposed residential development of Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire at No 15 Cameroon street, Ikoyi, Lagos”. The project was said to be for “construction component only Lot1”. Project title for this contract read “Office of the Deputy Governor”.
It was also listed as awarding a contract valued at $14,650,000.00 to a joint venture partner for the “direct procurement of four car electric multi unit train”. Project title for this contract was listed as Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority.
Another curious contract awarded by the state government under Fashola’s watch was one listed by the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency as “Enhancing the Lagos Disaster Recovery Mechanism” which had a delivery period of 25 weeks and was awarded for N266,694,193.50 just as another for the “remodeling/improvement works and equipping the official residence” of a Lagos judicial officer was awarded for N510,000,000.00 on October 30, 2013.
The Fashola administration also, according to the procurement agency established by him, awarded a contract for N1.9billion for the “completion of 48 bedroom hotel at Lagos State V.I.P Chalets, Badagry”.
Meanwhile, questions are still being asked over the award of a contract valued at N139 million by the Fashola administration for the “construction of two boreholes at Lagos House, Ikeja”. The contract was awarded on August 14, 2013 with a 12 month completion period.
The Fashola administration was also listed as having awarded contract for the “rehabilitation of Ago Palace Way (Phase IV) Ch0+000 to Ch3+050) for N5,650,000,000,00. The contract has a 30 month completion period though Ago Palace way, even as residents of the area, especially those who live after Century Bust stop, suffer heartaches from bad road.
The administration under focus, also awarded a contract for the development of beach resort at Ileshe titled as “proposed development of Beach Resort at Ileshe, Lagos (Phase 1)” for the sum of N945,400,000,00. The contract awarded on December 14, 2013 had a 12 month completion period. Prior to this contract, another one titled “implementation of Ilase Beach Resort Project” had been awarded by the Fashola administration for N3,463,836,684.22 to same firm.
Curious contracts were also awarded for the same purposes but at different costs. For instance, the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency also listed on its website that the Fashola administration awarded a contract tiled “Magistrate Court Ikeja (Wall Signage)” for N4 million, while the same project which was meant for the Magistrate Court at Epe was awarded for N7,030,000.00 and another for the Magistrate Court at Badagry was awarded for N6,215,000.00 among many others.
Efforts to get the Lagos state Government to comment on the contracts was met with silence as state officials refused to comment.
But in his press statement, Fashola said “the entire documents are with the Lagos State Government and are available for those who seek the truth”. According to him “since 2008, long before the Freedom of Information Act was ever passed, we had put out all our contracts on the state website because I believe people deserve to know”.
He further stated that “this particular website came into being as a result of the decision I made to make my telephone number public for the several thousands of people seeking to reach me daily”.
The former Lagos governor also said: “I have chosen to make this personal response because as the head of the government at the time of the transaction, the buck as they say stops at my desk and also because of the many calls, text messages and mails coming from many people seeking clarification; and to prevent fiction from being mistaken for truth.
“I expect that there may be more distorted allegations without evidence, for reasons that remain in the realm of speculation, because, I have been informed reliably that large amounts of money are being paid to some of these agents to bear false witness”, he stated further.
– Our Reporter