PRIMORG, others urge Osun gov’t to investigate N1.3bn corruption-ridden contracts

PRIMORG, a Nigerian nonprofit and media advocacy organisation promoting citizen engagement, participation, and inclusion in governance, has called on the Osun State Government to investigate the award of N1.3 billion contracts to nonexistent companies between 2019 and 2021 by the state.

The organisation made the call during its weekly anti-corruption radio programme, “Public Conscience,” in Abuja on Wednesday, October 5.

The ICIR-funded investigation, exposed how the state government flouted public procurement laws by awarding contracts to non-existing entities.

The report showed that nine projects were awarded to ghost firms from 2019 to 2021 – during the administration of the immediate past Governor Gboyega Oyetola. Oyetola is currently the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy in the government of President Bola Tinubu.

During the programme, the reporter, Taiwo Fatola, emphasized citizens’ critical role in public procurement processes and underscored the need to hold leaders accountable.

Fatola said, “I urge the government (Osun State) to do something about this report and ensure that procurement laws are strictly adhered to going forward to encourage transparency and accountability of procurement processes.

“Citizens need to be more conscious, interested, and ask questions in public procurement as that will help keep the government on their toes. When government officials know the citizens are asking questions, they will be pushed to do what is right. People should show more optimism and follow up on public procurement processes.”

The ICIR reports that former Governor Oyetola has not responded publicly to the report’s findings since it was made public. Furthermore, the Osun State Bureau of Public Procurement and the Governor’s Office have not taken any known actions in response to the investigation.

Mukhtar Modibbo, the Community Engagement Manager at Connected Development (CODE), condemned the violation of procurement law in Osun State, emphasizing that such violations often result from the widespread abuse and disregard for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by government institutions in the state.

Modibbo called for a united effort to combat the flouting of procurement law in Nigeria and stressed that stringent punishment should deter others from engaging in procurement corruption.

Modibbo remarked, “We have a bigger framework, that is the Open Government Partnership. How effective do we look at procurements, issues of ownership, and service delivery within the framework of open government partnership?

“The punishments, to some extent, are not really there. Cases like that will stay in court for years. We have to strengthen a lot of systems for us to achieve those things. How strong is our judiciary? What is the time frame? What is the framework of that? Some will stay up to 3-5 years on a case. At the end of the day, the case will not even come with serious punishment.”

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