Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Ogun State House of Assembly has directed the State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC) to furnish it with more documents relating to all housing projects built and sold by the Corporation between 2015 and May 28, 2019.
The House, through its Committee on Public Accounts and Anti-Corruption (PAAC), gave the directive during a session with the former Managing Director of OPIC, Babajide Odusolu, in consideration of the audit reports on accounts of ministries, departments and agencies at the Assembly Complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
Odusolu, who was a former Special Adviser to the former governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and currently the CEO of Octo5 Holdings, was summoned by the House Committee over alleged sharp practices perpetrated at OPIC between 2015 and 2019.
His appearance before the Committee on Tuesday, which revealed that some projects were carried out by the corporation without budgetary provisions, lasted about six hours.
The Committee Chairman and lawmaker representing Ado-Odo/Ota II State Constituency, Musefiu Lamidi, in his remarks, directed the OPIC management to furnish it with more documents to assist the committee on its proceedings with a view to ensuring accountability, probity and transparency in public institutions.
Lamidi also requested for the project respective locations and number of units alongside the level of completion on those yet to be completed and number of alloted property with explanation notes of inflow and outflow of cash during the period under review.
He noted that funds expended on MITROS Residences, Abeokuta were not appropriated for in line with best budgeting practices.
The lawmaker sought for the submission of documents in support of all cost lines and revenue on the properties between January 2015 and February, 2020.
Some of the state legislators who spoke during the session, frowned at the non-completion of the multi-billion MTR Gardens in Isheri area of the state which, the session was told, would require about N800million for completion.
Earlier in his submission before the committee members, Odusolu said OPIC started from the stage where it hardly made profit in 2013 when he took over, till it broke even as profit-oriented corporation as at 2019.
The former OPIC boss, who was accompanied by some management staff of the corporation, reeled out the various housing projects carried out by the Corporation under his purview.
He appreciated the lawmakers for the opportunity to clarify issues and outline his scorecard, stressing that the corporation needed to run like an independent business enterprise, which should be devoid of the public service scrutiny, rules and processes.
Odusolu, who admitted that the Corporation spent some funds not budgeted for, however, explained that the expenditures were approved by the authorities to carry out worthwhile projects and investments.
He further disclosed that OPIC spent over N3.9billion in the provision of 28 housing units at the MTR Gardens Estate in Isheri on the border with Lagos State.
Speaking on Gateway Savings and Loan Limited, the former Special Adviser insisted that quick intervention of the immediate past governor of the state saved the mortgage bank from imminent collapse.
The mortgage bank, according to him, was revived with the injection of N500million by the Amosun administration to recapitalize it and prevent Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from withdrawing the bank’s operating licence.
Odusolu decried the state of MITROS Residences Hotel, Abeokuta, one of the assets left by the immediate past administration.
‘We made MITROS Residences Hotel possible under two months in readiness for the South West Governors’ Conference. We also left it as a business venture of the government with it’s own management, making profits.
‘Government must see and allow OPIC to operate with flexibility as a business. If you want to force us to do the things like they did in the past, you will go back to the old ways. When I was here, we had targets, every month, everybody had targets. When you take a business and try and funnel it into the details of civil service, you will always have conflicts.
‘Look at Orange Valley, look at Kings Court. Kings Court is viable today, simply because in 2014 and 2015, we moved about 16,700 trips of latrite to fill that place and reclaim it. That’s why there is value there.
‘Look at New Makun, look at MTR Gardens, and even Agbara, though work didn’t finish but we did the best we can. So, my plea to the current administration is to unshackle OPIC, and the leadership they put in OPIC and allow it to actually run.
‘Within a six years period, we turn around OPIC and generated over N18.7billion in revenue and the total expenditure we made was about N12.3billion.
‘You will probably say, where are the rest investments? They are all over the place. The reason OPIC continues to thrive today is because all those investments, we left them there. We left land in New Makun, we left land in Agbara that is viable, we left lands in MTR Gardens that is viable and houses everywhere, that is what OPIC is still surviving on until today. The worth of all the assets we left in OPIC is worth a N40b enterprise,’ OPIC former MD stated.
The House Committee adjourned sitting to a later date, where more documents on financial transactions of the corporation would be tendered for verification.