Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Former Managing Director of the Ogun State Property and Investments Corporation (OPIC), Babajide Odusolu, has absolved self of extra-budgetary spending during the construction of the MITROS Residences, Ibara, Abeokuta, insisting that all expenditure on the project was with the express written approval of the then governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Odusolu, who stated this while appearing before the Ogun State House of Assembly Committee on Public Account, on Monday, equally argued that the exit audit meeting for the 2018 accounts took place after he had left OPIC as the MD, adding that the information claimed was not factual.
The House Committee chaired by Musefiu Lamidi, had on Monday, for the second time, took on the former MD of OPIC in continuation of the consideration of the financial reports of the Corporation between 2015 and 2019.
Lamidi in company of other members of the Committee, questioned the OPIC finance team and Odusolu on why over N40m could not be accounted for in the construction expenses of the MITROS Residences, which was carried out during the period under review.
Responding, the Director of Finance and Administration of OPIC, stated that some of the funds disbursed during the construction were cash receipts from the state government.
Also responding, the former OPIC MD explained that due to urgent nature of the project which was executed using direct labour, working on a 24-hour shift, lots of material expenses and labour costs were paid on site.
The Committee, however, demanded that the OPIC finance team forward details of the recipients of such cash disbursements to it.
It further challenged the Corporation on the rationale behind disposing of 8 hectares of landed property cut from a larger 15.8 hectare land which OPIC bought from the Bureau of Lands for over N515 million at Isheri, at a heavily discounted price of N164m barely ten days before the expiration of the last administration.
Responding, Odusolu stated that the sale was a protracted negotiation with the investors who built Sango Shoprite Mall and the decision to sell the property for the highly discounted price was taken by the then governor, in recognition of the other investments in the state by the anchor investor.
While acknowledging the submission of the audited financial statement for 2018-2019 and the Management Letter on the financial statement by the Corporation in response to the previous meeting held with Odusolu on October 13, the House Committee decried the manner in which the former MD spent the total sum of N881m on the construction and procurement of equipment for the MITROS Residence at Ibara without the approval of the State House of Assembly.
It also requested clarifications on the role of the OPIC Board in the running of OPIC as well as the process of the project execution.
The former MD of the Corporation clarified and submitted that the OPIC Law stated that the MD reports directly to the Governor as the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation.
The Committee further said that the Corporation did not keep fixed assets registers, cash book and bank reconciliation statements of MITROS and failed to make them available to external auditors on demand, pointing out that from a sample of daily cash schedule, cash received were not fully lodged.
It, however, declared that the financial infractions pointed out were in contravention of the Appropriation Laws for the period, as well as in contrast to the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and the State Financial Regulations, which equally mandated the keeping of up-to-date fixed assets register by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Subsequently, the lawmakers requested OPIC to provide logs including land sales, properties, lease/rent amongst others with specifications of their respective location, sizes, type of building and cost facilities external to the building such as access roads and paving amongst others which were to be submitted on or before Wednesday, November 11th, 2020.
The Committee, however, directed Odusolu to re-appear before it on Wednesday, November 25.