OrderPaperToday – Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has accused a panel of the House of Representatives of alleged connivance and frivolous consultancy expenditures on a matter that could have been dealt with in a correspondence with his office.
The Minister said it was needless for members of the House of Representatives’ joint committees on Power and Public Procurement to conduct a public hearing on the matter involving N42 billion rural electrification contracts allegedly awarded without following due process.
The Minister had been summoned to appear before the joint committees to explain the role of his ministry when he made these remarks in an appearance on Thursday.
Fashola accused the committee of conflict of interest when pointed that a contractor involved in a contractual dispute settlement with his ministry had been hired as consultant to the panel on the alleged fraudulent procurement.
He made the remark when asked to clarify the ‘Fast Power Programme’ of his ministry with respect to the allegation of fraudulent contracts.
Fashola noted that there was no fraud and that there was no such contract in his Ministry, adding that there was only an approval for the award of a N38.9 billion contract and not N42 billion.
Explaining further, the Minister told the lawmakers that when the Buhari administration took over, there were many contractors being owed by the past administration for jobs done. He said a gentleman named Ronald Van Arnult, who now serves as consultant to the Power Committee, was one of those owed by the government.
“However, investigations revealed that there was no procurement for his contract and some others, but we couldn’t ask him to go away, having provided some evidence of work done, we had to reach an agreement to offer a base-sum, otherwise, government wasn’t going to pay.
“I said what I said because of the allegations against us that we’ve acted fraudulently, and I have cause to believe that the gentleman is now advising this Committee,” he said.
According to him, under the Public Procurement Act, the government was only obliged to pay 15 percent of the sum involved in the rural electrification/Fast Power Programme contract.
“When I complained in 2017 about reduced allocation to the power Ministry, the Chairman, Power, said he reduced the budget, and when I asked why, he said “well, you can’t get everything that you want, and we laughed over it, and I said in 2018 we will expect an increase by which time you would have become a champion of this course,” Fashola said.
Reacting to the allegation by the Minister, the Joint Chairman, Mr. Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun), said he was hearing the information for the first time and urged the Minister to continue.