Fred Itua and Okwe Obi, Abuja
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono and his Permanent Secretary, Abdulkadir Mu’azu, have been implicated in an alleged contract scam, diversion of projects and purchase of a building for the ministry without proper inspection by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr. Mohammed Bello, alleged that Nanono and Mu’azu were complicit in the scam while responding to a query issued by President Mohammadu Buhari, through the Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, for allegedly failing to pay eligible contractors despite budgetary release of over N98 billion in the 2018 allocation which led to an outstanding of N49 billion.
The Federal Government had issued a query to Bello for financial misconduct while he was Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Bello in his response dated May 14, a copy of which was obtained by Daily Sun, said it was the former Minister, Audu ogbeh and the Federal Executive Council FEC that gave approval for the purchase of the building.
He described the allegations as baseless and without facts alleging that Nanono and Abdulkadir were behind his travail.
“Kindly note that we have been invited, interrogated and cleared by the EFCC and ICPC on this particular matter after glaring facts were presented to them. While denying in totality all the allegations, I hereby forward my representations and response to all the false allegations contained in the query.I am constrained to give details of the transactions I approved to set the records straight and clear my name. I will like to state the following that all transactions at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were approved through administrative processes and principles as traditioned in the conduct of government business. That FMARD runs a rolling budget year in year out as most projects are being captured as ongoing; that all contracts/procurement and payments at the FMARD followed due process. There are procedures for contracts/procurement and payments handled by various departments in all government agencies, FMARD inclusive.
“That my tenure as Permanent Secretary at FMARD commenced from January 10, 2019 to December 18, 2019 and hence cannot be held responsible or liable for actions prior to January 10, 2019. I state that contractors were duly paid. The allegation of contractors not being paid is totally false. All contractors whose contract was captured in the 2018 budgetary allocation were paid in accordance with budgetary releases. However, contractors whose contracts are ongoing were rolled over as ongoing. Rollover capital projects are not new in contract management. I will state that due process was followed to the latter in the purchase of the said building. After submission of recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture; he approved that Council Memo be made to that effect. We then sent the Memo to the Secretary to Government of the Federation who then scheduled it for Federal Executive Council Approval. Consequently, the Federal Executive Council approved the purchase of the building.
“It may interest you to know that as I left FMARD in December, 2019, MTB (Ministerial Tenders Board) met that same December 2019 and among the projects approved then includes: The remodelling and partitioning of new office complex; Procurement and installation of 1000KVA generator set; fencing of new office complex and other related auxiliaries; Procurement and Installation of ICT internet at the new office complex and; Procurement and Installation of Solar Energy in FMARD.”