Re: False Allegations Against The Bauchi State Govt On The N3.6 Billion Contract For The Supply Of Vehicles
We write with reference to the Premium Times story, of 22nd February 2020, by the above title. The story, in its entirety is, to put it mildly, a very serious distraction from the ethical governance environment, that the Bauchi State Government, under the leadership of His Excellency, Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, CON, (Kauran Bauchi), has established in the State; a paradigm shift from the past and a vehicle that promotes transparency, accountability and due process.
In summary, the Premium Times story under reference contained, among others, three major false claims that:
1. The Government did not follow laid down procedure in awarding the contact for the supply of 105 vehicles
2. The Governor is a director in the company that won the contract
3. The suppliers have underdelivered or underperformed.
It is important to place on record, as was stated in the story that, when contacted, I emphatically and painstakingly debunked all the allegations that were considered as the kernel of the story.
We restate, without equivocation, that the story, as told by the sponsors, is a tissue of lies promoted for selfish reasons, by politicians who have embarked on a campaign of calumny, blackmail and mischief against the Governor and the State Government. Thus, without prejudice to whatever other steps we may take, we have decided to put the records straight; to afford the discerning public, particularly the good people of Bauchi State, the opportunity to reach a fair and balanced judgment on the situation. Here are the facts:
In order to justify its baseless and false allegation of impropriety, the Premium Times story gave the impression that the contract award was rushed. That is laughable as no such thing ever happened. On assumption of office, the Government was confronted with the highly demoralising spectre of its critical human resources being incapacitated logistically, either because of rickety vehicles left behind by the Mohammed Abubakar Administration or the absence of any means of transportation at all. As things stood, the need to provide this important work facility was, for all practical purposes, no longer a matter of choice but of acute necessity. Despite the urgency, Government took the following steps:
a) It first reviewed the 2019 Appropriation Act to accommodate the essential and emergency expenditures; the procurement of vehicles fell within this category
b) The State House of Assembly passed the reviewed budget
c) The Executive Governor approved the reviewed budget and as Chairman in Council, gave anticipatory approval to the sourcing of funds and procurement of the vehicles on contract financing
d) The Governor’s request was transmitted to the House of Assembly and subsequent approval for the borrowing plan of the procurement and contract financing was given by the Assembly.
e) Upon receipt of the permission to embark on the procurement based on the House Resolution and approval to spend, quotations were called for and received in accordance with the Bauchi State Public Procurement Law (Sections 65, 66 and 70), Public Procurement Act (Sections 41 & 42) and other necessary procurement requirement.
f) The State House Assembly approved virement to cover the increased expenditure
As can be deduced from the above, the vehicle purchase passed through the crucible of both legislative and executive scrutiny and, indeed, complied with all extant procurement laws. Unfortunately, the newspaper’s attempt to fault the process, by disputing the approval sequence ignores the standard practice that, even under the procurement act, a Governor, heads of legislative houses, MDAs, etc have the powers to give anticipatory approval where delay could jeopardise operations, provided he or she is convinced that the due process machinery has been irreversibly set in motion.
If the Governor’s proactive step to equip and motivate the critical human resource component of his Change Administration amounts to impropriety, then the Governor will not hesitate to commit the offence again!
DIRECTORSHIP OF COMPANY
His Excellency, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, CON, Kauran Bauchi has never been a director of ADDA Nigeria Limited. If the Premium Times had conducted a thorough investigation, particularly on the Particulars of Directors (Form CAC 7) of ADDA Nigeria Limited, attached to the contract bidding document, the newspaper would have discovered that the said Alhaji Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of ADDA Nigeria Limited, is not one and the same person as Senator Bala Mohammed, Kauran Bauchi, Governor of Bauchi State. They are totally different – they are not one and the same person, for the following reasons:
1. The specimen signature appearing against the name of the said Alhaji Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of ADDA Motors Ltd, affixed on Form CAC 7 of the company during incorporation, is entirely different from the signature of Senator Bala Mohammed, CON, Governor of Bauchi State.
2. Secondly, the address of 100 Liman Mahmoud Street, Bauchi provided on the Form CAC 7, (Particulars of Directors), by the said Alhaji Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of ADDA Nigeria Limited, has never been the residence of Senator Bala Mohammed, CON, Kauran Bauchi, Governor of Bauchi State or any other member of his family.
3. Similarly, Senator Bala Mohammed, CON has never lived at No 227 Gombe Road, Bauchi as contained in Form CAC 7A, notice of change of directors, as referred to by Premium Times.
We wish to make it abundantly clear that the attempt to discredit the Governor by making heavy weather of his relationship with Abdullahi Yari is not only disingenuous but wicked. No amount of blackmail can hide their well-known resentment that, unlike previous practice, under this dispensation, a company owned by a full-blooded indigene of Bauchi State; has now won such a contract, for the first time. Let it be known that the Government of Bala Mohammed will never, repeat NEVER, succumb to such a cheap blackmail.
This is a blatant lie that that exposes the sponsors as hypocrites masquerading as Patriots. The contract was successfully executed, and all the 105 vehicles delivered in accordance with the contract agreement. We challenge the Premium Times to release the contract terms and show evidence of any infraction by the contractor as to warrant the spurious and malicious allegation that Bauchi State is being short-changed by this contract.
Contrary to the false report by Premium Times, we make bold to say that all the 105 vehicles were duly supplied and faithfully distributed to the three arms of government. These are, the Executive Governor, the Deputy Governor and the State First Lady including their fleets; the Rt. Honourable Speaker and his fleet, the 31 House of Assembly Members and all the Honourable Commissioners. Others are the Chief Judge and the Grand Khadi, all High Court Judges and Khadis, Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief State Protocol Officer, Extra-Ministerial Departments and Parastatals, etc. Perhaps Premium Times would have wanted the embarrassing situation where, for over seven years, the official vehicles of judges in the state had not been replaced, to persist.
No right thinking person, except for warped and desperate minds such as the sponsors of the story, will fail to recognize how difficult, if not outrightly impossible it is, for any serious financial malfeasance to be carried out in today’s Bauchi State, given the complex power configuration in the state. In addition, the prevailing governance environment established by the Bala Mohammed Administration is a clear disincentive to fraud. Or do the promoters of the false story want the public to believe that, in approving the revised 2019 budget, the All Progressive Congress (APC)-controlled State House of Assembly abandoned its oversight role to connive with a PDP-led Executive, to defraud the state of billions of naira?
From every indication, this false story is the product of soured grapes by agents of destabilisation who have resorted to all sorts of blackmail, character assassination and intrigues after their ambush at the Supreme Court was crushed by the superior firepower of the Governor’s legal team. This time around, they will fail, for at least, four reasons:
1. Governor Bala Mohammed’s track record and exposure as a well-grounded civil servant who rose to the rank of director in the Federal Civil Service, his legislative experience as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and prior executive actions as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); have equipped him with all the nuances about due process that now run in his DNA. When you add his hounding by the EFCC which was gleefully incorporated into the false story by Premium Times, it becomes inconceivable, by that same fact, that he will succumb to the temptation or mistake of by-passing due process in his actions.
2. Related to the above, in the effort to run an open and transparent administration, soon after assumption of office, Governor Bala Mohammed approved that the quarterly and annual revenue and expenditure reports, as well as the budget and financial report be published on the State Website. This information is readily available to the electorate and the general public on the state’s transparency portal via website www.bauchistate.gov.ng.
3. In pursuit of his commitment to a culture of transparency and accountability, only recently, Governor Bala Mohammed ensured that both a top official of EFCC and the renowned Engineer Emeka Eze, alias “Due Process” (who, for over EIGHT years was the Director General of the Federal Government’s Due Process office), presented papers at the executive retreat for top government officials that took place at the Bauchi State University, Azare.
4. Like a pack of cards, the vile effort by unrepentant and shameless desperados to discredit Governor Bala Mohammed’s Administration will continue to collapse because the people have seen the difference between the government that is for the people and the insensitive governments of the past whose stock-in-trade was to bequeath piles of debts and unpaid emoluments to successor administrations and the good people of Bauchi State. If we were inflating contracts, as the Premium Times would want the world to believe, how come that we are able to pay salaries regularly and begin to offset gratuity and pensions bills that the previous government abandoned? Some common-sense, please!
5. If the Premium Times and its shameless sponsors were honestly committed to exposing the financial haemorrhage, that was mindlessly perpetrated against the people of Bauchi State, even in the supply of vehicles, the newspaper would not have glossed over the yet to be delivered bullet proof car for which the sum of N114 million was paid to the contractor by a previous administration. Nor would they have kept quiet in the face of several documented cases of unexecuted projects for which contractors had been partly or fully mobilized financially. Let the message go forth that, if this false and malicious propaganda is designed to forestall our firm resolve to expose and bring these malcontents to justice, then they should consider their strategy not just as dumb as previous efforts but piteously dead on arrival. Let it be known to the good people of Bauchi State and our friends and partners all over the world that, by the grace of God, nothing, repeat NOTHING, will derail the already established ethical foundation that is galvanising patriots and stakeholders into a formidable partnership for transparency, accountability and open government.
We perfectly understand the frustrations of political turn coats who, through sleight of hand, delusorily expected to hijack the finances and administration of Bauchi State. We have taken cognizance of their determination to seek to demonize the person of the Governor with a view to creating disaffection among the people. We are even surprised that it has taken them so long to make good their diabolical threat to deploy every arsenal in their bid to manipulate public opinion against the Governor and the Government. We are not unmindful that more missiles and poisoned arrows will be thrown the way of the Government by its detractors. But the good news is that, the Administration, of Governor Bala Mohammed, will never be frustrated in its determination to redress the misgovernment of the past and deliver on its promise to create the impetus for achieving, before the end of this tenure, the vision and mission of the Bauchi Project.
Finally, we want to advise the Premium Times that, as a medium that prides itself for professional journalism, it should guard against mischief-makers who have lost credibility before the people of Bauchi State and other characters whose over-bloated ego and vaulting ambition could not be accommodated by the result oriented and people centred Administration of Governor Bala Mohammed. On this note, we request the Premium Times, in deference to the ethical demand of the right of reply, to run our own side of the story unedited.
Alhaji Mukhtar Gidado
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Bauchi State Governor on Media & Publicity