Bala Muhammed, Governor of Bauchi State, has awarded a contract worth N3.6 billion to a company in which he sits as a Director, a report has revealed.
The contract awarded to Adda Nigeria Limited was for the supply of a whopping 105 “officials vehicles” for the use of the governor and other government officials, Premium Times reports.
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According to insiders, the governor retains a 20 per cent stake in the company.
The contract, if true, is a clear contravention of Code of Conduct and Public Procurement laws.
According to the online newspaper, the contract was awarded in the early days of the governor’s administration, just before he constituted the Bauchi State Executive Council.
A memo from the state’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Development dated July 9, 2019, was addressed to Governor Mohammed through the Secretary to the State Government, providing purported quotations from three companies for the supply of 105 vehicles, the report stated.
The memo signed by Muhammed Sabo Abdullahi on behalf of the permanent secretary of the Finance and Economic Development Ministry, asked the governor to approve the purchase from Adda Nigeria Limited, which cost he put at N3,602,000,000.
The two other companies, according to the correspondence, quoted N3,740,000,000 and N3,911,000,000 respectively.
Governor Mohammed is said to have approved the memo on September 9, 2019, directing the Secretary to the State Government to table the memo before the executive council “for ratification.”
The executive council was not in place as at that time as the council was only inaugurated a day later, on September 10.
The documents were later tabled before the first state’s executive council meeting on September 11, 2019, for what was a mere rubber-stamp exercise.
The report noted that Nura Soro, the then Commissioner of Finance, had raised questions on aspects of the contracts leading to stepping down of the issue at the maiden council meeting.
The controversy surrounding the contract award was said to be part of the reasons leading to Soro’s resignation from his post in mid-October.
The report noted that required procedures such as standard bidding processes through open competitive bidding, as enshrined in the Bauchi State Public Procurement, Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Agency law, were not duly followed.
The Code of Conduct law, in sections 5 and 6, bars public officers from putting themselves in positions of conflict of interest and disallows them from partaking in any business other than farming.
The award of the contract is also at variance with Section 25 of Bauchi procurement law, which forbids officials involved in the procurement process from partaking in contract bidding or cooperation with bidders.
There is also a controversy as to the amount involved and the number of vehicles purchased.
While the 2019 Bauchi State budget provides for N1 billion for motor vehicles purchases to be handled by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the government increased the money by N2.6 billion.
In its reaction, the Bauchi State government confirmed the award of the contract.
Mukhtar Gidado, a spokesperson for Governor Mohammed, said the contract was awarded at the cost mentioned in the story.
“Yes, it is true. The contract was awarded at the cost you mentioned,” he said.
He, however, refuted the allegation of shabby delivery, saying, “As I am talking to you (Friday), the last batch of eight vehicles are on their way to Bauchi from Lagos.”
Gidado also denied that the governor is a part-owner of the company, challenging the news medium to do “proper investigation” at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
But five days after the evidence of Governor Mohammed’s ownership in the company was sent to Gidado via Whatsapp, the governor’s spokesperson who claimed he had not seen the evidence, insisted that the governor is not a director in the company.