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N29bn: My Story, By Jonathan’s Key Minister, Orubebe…Says Traducers Are Eying 2015

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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe has described the corruption allegations level against him by Hon Dino Melaye and his group, Anti-corruption Network, as a display of his ignorance at the workings of government.

Hon. Dino Melaye, and his group had accused the minister of involvement in contract inflation of N29bn, acquisition of properties and illegal involvement in the awarded construction for a skill acquisition center in Edo state.

But Orubebe, who stated that the allegations are false and unfounded, lamented the continuing trend of maligning public office holders,  who daily sacrifice their time, skill and energy in the interest of the country.

The minister, who marveled at the ignorance of the group, noted that as a minister he does not have the authority to approve major contracts,  as such procurements are statutorily deliberated upon and approved by the Federal Executive Council, (FEC).

He also maintained that due process was observed in the award of all contracts by the ministry, adding that in accordance with the provisions of the public Procurement Act, the Bureau for Public Procurement, (BPP) oversaw all award of contracts.

Orubebe while stressing that Hon. Melaye was blackmailing him said the allegations smack of political vindictiveness ahead of the 2015 election year.

Orubebe said 'it is very sad that people who are able to serve this country are being maligned anyhow.

“On this issue of Edo state acquisition center, generally for any contract to be awarded by any ministry it must go through due process.

“Edo skill center was one of the nine skill centers that were all awarded at the same time. In each of the skill centers the contracts was awarded to three different contractors.

'Like other skill centers, I visited the Edo skill center five times and I saw that the contractors were not performing. We wrote letters to them expressing our disappointment. As at the time we were speaking most others had gone about 80 percent but they were still at no more than 10 percent with no improvement.

“So we followed due process; we wrote to BPP to examine everything and the contracts were terminated. We then started a new process.

“So the issue of inflating contracts does not arise. You cannot inflate those contracts, it is not possible. Before any contract is awarded it must go through due process which will certify it along lines of the cost implication. It is due process that will award a certificate that the contract must be awarded at a particular price. And that is when you can send it to the Federal Executive Council, if it is over one billion naira.

There all the ministers will examine it and approve it. So no minister has the power to sit down in his office and say I am increasing contract sum to any amount. It is not possible going by the Procurement Act.

“Unfortunately some of the people raising this allegation are former honorable members who have not read the laws that they made.
If you want to award any contract your engineers will go through the contract and then they will send it to Bureau of Public Procurement BPP.

“They are the people that will tell you that you must award it at a certain price. So these people who don't know anything about contract award are going about telling people lies. So that story is nowhere. It is false; it is orchestrated to tarnish the image of the ministry. We reject it, it is not done anywhere.”

He continued 'that same self named anti-corruption network went to town to say I awarded contract of N29bn and I have paid all the money to the contractors. In fact they specifically said I inflated one of the contracts from N1bn to N12bn.

“For goodness sake,  no minister can inflate contract sum by even one percent. It is not possible. Again the three contracts the so-called anti corruption network talked about were for only 6bn. And even out of the 6bn we were only able to mobilize the contractor with about N909m. Today as we speak, the three contractors are now have pending certificate on what they have done to the tune of over N1bn.

“As of that time I addressed a press conference and took the media to visit the sites because they alleged that neither the projects nor the communities were not in existence. Some the media went there and saw these things for themselves and they said Dino Melaye lied.'

Reacting to the allegation of acquisition of landed properties, Orubebe said 'he went on to say that Setraco built a house for me and that the Certificate of Occupancy (C/O) of that house is in my name. I called the media and they came. I contacted the man who owns the house and the process leading to how I got to rent the house. All the papers were brought; the C/O and plan of the house as approved by the FCT has nothing to do with me.

'We owe one of the contractors, N20bn. So tell me, if we owe them that amount which we cannot pay from the budget, how would somebody you owe come and build house for you? It does not make any moral sense. When my friends published the documents and everything about the house, the next thing they said was that Orubebe has so many properties.

“I came into government in 2006. Every minister and Nigerian is entitled to apply officially and legitimately for a land for development. I applied in my name and I got land. Some of them I have not seen them with my eyes because they are in bush areas and none of those plots of land has been developed because I don't have money to do so. And somebody will go and deceive Nigerians that I have properties that I have not disclosed to people. Lands in the bush that I applied officially paid the expected government money and then I was allocated. So tell me in which area Orubebe done any fraudulent thing…'

Orubebe while underscoring the political angle to the allegations said 'I think generally some people are not comfortable with some of us because we speak the truth at all times and I will stand for the truth. Anywhere we are we say things as it should be. Remember I was deputy director general of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organization and we talked about transformation and these are some of the things that we do. If you come to ministry of Niger-Delta I don't discuss with contractors. I don't even know some contractors. I deal with files and I don't allow any files stay on my table for more than two days. And that is a policy in the ministry of Niger-Delta, I don't see contractors, I don't discuss with them. It is possible this is not going down well with some people and of course we are moving closer to 2015 and some people think they have to deal with some of us. So I perceive strongly that there is serious political undertone at the
national level and the state where I come from. That is how I see it.

“I make bold to say that I have not done anything wrong. So for people to come in this form to attack, it means they have some political desire' he said

The Minister however noted that in following day's details on his law suit against Hon. Melaye and his group will emerge.

He further urged Nigerians to be patient with the President Goodluck Jonathan's administration as the transformation agenda is still on course.

While he underscored that the administration is plagued by the heap of infrastructural collapse and poor governance over the years, he noted that the administration is on the right track towards ensuring that the country attains greater heights.