David Umahi, the minister of works, has refuted the recent report by BudgIT Tracka, stating that the project was not awarded under his leadership.
Tracka, BudgIT’s service delivery promotion platform, had reported that the Federal Ministry of Works paid N9.3bn to FIMS Microfinance Bank Ltd, for 62 projects made between June and December 2023. This, according to the report, was against the 2007 procurement law.
Details of the projects included: ‘the payment of N1.4bn in September 2023 for the construction of Yaba-Yangoje Road in the Federal Capital Territory; N1.2bn in October 2023 for the rehabilitation of a 2km road from Oriawo-Boroboro-Oke-Medina School of Science Road in Atiba, Oyo State; N1.2bn in October 2023 for the rehabilitation of Kosobo-awe Junction Road in Oyo East LGA in Oyo State, and N1.2bn between August and November 2023, for the rehabilitation of Ejule-Otukpo road in Benue State, among others.
“As a financial institution, the award of road construction contracts among others to this company is a violation of the Public Procurement Act 2007, ” BudgIT’s Country Director, Gabriel Okeowo, had said while calling on anti-graft agencies to question and probe the payments as well as prosecute the erring officers.
Responding to the report, the minister said, “There are issues with the report because up to August 20, I was in the Senate. When a contractor has done his or her work, the money becomes his money, he can say, pay it to this bank or another.
“If they are asking whether the job has been done, that is reasonable and a right to provide an answer but they do not have the right to say where a contractor will say his money will be paid. Whether it is paid into a microfinance bank or not, without prejudice that I don’t have the facts about the jobs, they have no right to say it is paid into a microfinance bank.”
He stated that jobs were not implemented under his leadership neither were payments made by him. “And even if it was me, if the jobs were done and the certificate generated; deployed to the platform and it was appropriated and money was released against the project, then they have no right to question where it was paid.”
“In all the states, it is our policy that the state governors through their appointed officials must mark off any project, especially the emergency projects. When the contractor has completed a job, no matter how big it is.
“My advice for the governor is to come to the site and look at it before it gets to our office for payment, where this procedure is not done, I will not sign any generated certificate. So, we have invited the public to also be a part of the monitoring,” he said.