Fashola & Mega Corruption: The true face of Lagos
We are tax payers residents in Lagos who are desperately desirous of accountability since taxes have recently become major revenue of Lagos State government. In the developed societies where a similar revenue regime operates, associations such as ours have acted as Government Watchdogs, which is why some of us have decided to take up the gauntlet of championing the cause of taxpayers in the state. After all if we don't pay our taxes, government can charge and eventually jail us.
In the last ten years, tax revenue has come to constitute about 75 per cent of government revenue base, yet, the government never bothers to render account to tax payers in Lagos . In the last three years alone, a colossal sum of 1.1 trillion naira was budgeted by Fashola's government with the government itself affirming that it has consistently recorded a minimum of 75 per cent of budget performance out of which 80 per cent came from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). This is 30 per cent more than the entire budgets recorded by successive governments between 1992-2007-a period spanning 15 years.
Today, the total tax revenue of Lagos on a monthly basis hovers between N14 and N17 billion naira while federal allocations come to N6 billion Naira monthly. This is more than the revenue of seven states put together on a monthly basis. But how has the governor been spending the money? While we note the heavy investments in roads and environmental infrastructure mainly and commendably so, there is the need to question some of the ways the governor has been expending tax money which in our opinion reflects financial recklessness, mismanagement, gross constitutional violations and abuse of office.
Set below are some of the expenditures which the government claimed to have incurred on behalf of 'Lagosians' and which we feel were mere avenues to corruptly enrich some privileged individuals in and out of government and to which the state House of Assembly under the tutelage of 'governor emeritus' otherwise known as the Lion of Bourdillon has become an accomplice covering up a lot of misdeeds on the part of the executive. Just last week, it was alleged that each member of the House was given a sum of 20million naira through a lawyer member of the House from the Lagos west senatorial district, the constituency of the governor emeritus himself. When this was about to be leaked to the press, the Lion of Bourdillon used his powerful media contacts through two of his former aids who are media chieftains to suppress the leakage. Were this not to be the case, we would have otherwise sent these complaints to the House of Assembly. But since we no longer trust this pliant House of Assembly, we have decided to go public with the following:
1. Last year, Fashola (BRF) gave N250 million to Rotimi Akeredolu led Exco of NBA for the NBA conference held in Lagos . At a time when Lagos teachers and doctors were on strike for improved welfare package.
2. The BRF government within 6 months, January to June 2009 spent N420 million on hiring of private security – to guard who – despite his heavy investment in the Police Force through the State Security Trust Fund.
3. BRF spent N1.5 billion to demolish the Bank of Industry (BOI) building, paying a company introduced by one Tunji Olowolafe in cash transfer only for him and his cronies to claim the land adjacent to it.
4. BRF government awarded part of Western Avenue ( Funsho Williams Road ), about 2 kilometres road for N7.7 billion just between Abalti Barracks and Costain. And without the construction of any bridges, the project was carried out by Julius Berger. This project must certainly be investigated.
5. Between January and June 2009, the BRF government claimed to have fuelled 225 vehicles in his office alone with N135 million. These figures amount to about N800, 000 per day, at a time that petrol was sold for N65 per litre and government always get it cheaper, but BRF claimed to have bought it at N85 per litre.
6. Also between January and June 2009, BRF's Chief of Staff and PAs expended N290 million in sending TEXT Messages and phone CALLS on their lines.
7. It is also very sickening to know that the BRF government awarded the construction of a road and drains inside Gbagada General Hospital for over N1.8 billion to the same Tunji Olowolafe's company (DEUX Projects Limited).
8. The sum of 1.5 billion naira of un-appropriated funds, without approval was claimed to have been spent on demolition of Oshodi.
9. The Helicopter Deal – was a big fraud. The helicopter was not built for any kind of emergency evacuation, rescue or to even combat urban fire. Over N5 billion has been spent on the two helicopters. And, the seal of Lagos State is not on it, and it is not even in Lagos but in the Niger Delta making money for some private people in government. The whole helicopter deal stinks to high heavens; it constitutes the biggest governmental fraud of all times and confirms the rot in the State. See ThisDay December 19, 2009
10. The SSA (Media) to BRF spent N183 million in 6 months on press coverage and on editors outside the approved budget but funded directly from the Governor's Office.
11. In a State where children are sitting on the floor in classrooms, where unemployment is rampant and poverty pervasive. BRF paid a lady wife of a controversial pastor over N600 million in 2 years for Xmas Decorations for about six streets in Lagos.
12. In Six months between January and June 2009, BRF spent on several faceless organisations, subventions, grants and donations and they quickly pocketed N2 billion.
THE RIPPING OFF OF LAGOS – ESSENTIAL DETAILS
1. The BRF government recklessly increased and paid over 60% increase on the LASU – IBA road awarded by the Bola Tinubu government for N6.2 billion but was jerked up to N10 billion less than 2 weeks that BRF came on board.
2. Also, the Tinubu administration awarded the construction of City Hall for N2.3 billion. BRF only changed the floor tiles to marble tiles and increased the contract sum to N5.2 billion. This project was increased by 126%.
3. Publishing of INDICATOR Magazine, is falsely presented to the public as a private magazine but is actually co-ordinated by Tunji Olowolafe and Hakeem Bello, SSA (Media) to BRF with government money.
4. BRF recently gave a media-related Permanent Secretary, and some others the sum of N100 million to do a soap opera on himself. They are presently in London recording the film.
5. The BRF government has failed woefully in the area of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in three years. Yet, BRF is paying the PPP boss in Lagos State N2 million per month in violation of the Constitution, when even commissioners recognised by the Constitution are receiving N300,000 per month. The PPP guy is the highest paid government official presiding over a non-performing and failed parastatal.
6. The Beautification Programme of Fashola administration is reeking with corruption. In a State where there is no water, where over 90 per cent of the road in Lagos is in a deplorable state of disrepair, he is spending over N13 billion on planting grass and flowers. Most of the money was spent to import Palm trees from Niger Republic , a sahel region when Lagos is in the rain forest which explains why most of them have dried up...
7. Also, it is important to note that the renovation of classrooms of usually 12 blocks plus one which was done for N26 million by the Tinubu administration up till 2007 was increased to N53 million with the collaboration of the housing commissioner who is supervising projects in the education ministry.
8. CCTV project was awarded to BRF's relation who claimed to be acting for CISCO. The contract was awarded for $62 million dollars, while the rejected quote for the contract was $30 million. It is important to note that this is only a pilot scheme.
9. BRF's wife travels abroad once bi-monthly and takes N30 million per trip from the State coffers, apart from her monthly running cost.
10 The mother of all rip off is the award to DEUX PROJECT LIMITED, a company owned by the powerful Tunji Olowolafe 11 out of 19 contracts in the Lagos State Ministry of health between January and August 2009. Out of N5.6 billion naira contract in the Ministry of Health, Olowolafe alone collected N5.1 billion worth and was paid 70% upfront in cash.
1. Why did BRF divert N1.85 billion in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to a project that was not originally provided for in the budget and promptly awarded to Olowolafe?
2. Why is Lawyer BRF's administration illegally deducting funds from the statutory allocation of the Local Governments in Lagos State ?
3. Why was the Mayegun Scheme which was sold to Olowolafe and other friends and cronies against public interest without any independent valuation by relevant agency of government? Why is the size of the scheme shielded in secrecy? Why was N5.2 billion for which the land sold untraceable? Where is the over N2 billion loan borrowed to sand-fill the place? What is the fate of the Tourism and Art-craft sellers chased away from the place?
4. Pinnacle – why did the governor and his cronies engage in questionable transfer of 400 hectares of land to Pinnacle, South Africa, when it is known that the company is almost bankrupt and the ABSA Bank now owns over 60% of the Company. What nature of PPP is this? The world is watching!
5. Why was the illegal sand-filling of about 1 km in the Badagry – Marina awarded for N1.5 billion out of which N700 million has been paid and yet the contractors and the Tourism Ministry have completely destroyed all the historical relics and artefacts in the area? It has also created an environmental disaster for West Africa because of greed. And it appears the Commissioner has been settled.
FASHOLA AND CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS
1. Flagrant and deliberate disregard for the Appropriation law passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly, in violation of Section 120 of the 1999 Constitution.
2. Criminal diversion of funds without due approval of the Lagos State House of Assembly, in further violation of Section 120 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.
3. Indiscriminate award of contracts without due process, without following the laid down financial regulation as well as the public procurement guidelines. The payment of such contracts is in violation of Part (E) Section 120(4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
4. Most Ministries, Departments, Parastatals sometimes do not know when contracts are awarded in their names and for what purpose, they only find out later. And they don't know when payments to contractors are made by the State Treasury Office. This is in further violation of Section 121(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
5. Illegal and unwarranted deductions from the statutory Allocation of the local governments. This is in direct contravention of Public Revenue Provision of the 1999 Constitution and in violation of Section 162 sub-section 6, 7 and 8.
6. Opening of illegal and unconstitutional Dedicated Accounts which is contrary to the provision of the 1999 Constitution and which Revenue Monitoring Agency is unaware of. This act is in direct violation of Section 120(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
7. Office of the Chief of Staff which is unknown to the Constitution has more staff than any other Ministry in Lagos State . This violation is very grave as it is in direct breach of the Governor's Oath of Office in the 7th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution Section 13 and a gross violation of Sections 192, 193 and 208(2d) of the 1999 Constitution.
8. Indiscriminate borrowing by the Ministry of Finance without legislative approval, which the Finance Commissioner calls Bridging Loans, is a grave assault on Fiscal Federalism, a coup against Financial Regulations and a shameful and criminal violation of Section 120(1), (2), (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution.
9. Concentration of over 70% of Lagos State Government contracts in the hands of one Tunji Olowolafe. This is the clearest indication of the betrayal of trust by Governor Fashola, it is against the Oath of Office he swore to, it is a violation of Sections 14(4), 15(5) and 17(2a) of the 1999 Constitution on which social objective of a just, free and equitable social order is founded.
10. Arbitrary use of Special Expenditure Vote for activities not originally provided for under the Appropriation Law. This is a further betrayal of Fiscal Federalism and a violation of provisions of Section 120(3) and (4), and Section 123(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
11. Payment of 70% up-front to persons and cronies for contracts not yet executed. Similarly, this is a contravention of Section 120(4) of the 1999 Constitution.
12. Giving arbitrary donations to selective professional associations and faceless organisations for acting as sycophants without appropriate authorisation by relevant constitutional bodies. This is a clear violation of sections 120(4) and 123 of the 1999 Constitution
13. The fraudulent purported acquisition of 2 Bell 412 EP Series Helicopters from a Canadian firm constitute a flagrant violation of Section 123(1) and (2) and Section 120(4) of the 1999 Constitution.
14. Furthermore, the award of contract of courts and other Judicial Infrastructure as well as procurement for the Judiciary in Lagos State by the Attorney-General, Tunji Olowolafe and Governor Fashola is in gross violation of Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
In all these aberrations, the Lagos State House of Assembly has kept mute, and the House has become inept, achaic, drab, docile and inefficient. All the noise by Mr. Speaker about accountability and probity be only to enable house members line their pockets and feed fat on the sweat and toil of the people of the State?
Is it also true that they have been given their own share of the loot, they are maintaining undignified silence over the report of the ad hoc Committee set up to look into the books and activities of the Lagos State Government pursuant to Section 103 of the 1999 Constitution with powers expressly provided in sections 1a, b(i) and (ii), as well as Section 129 1 a b c and d.
We are aware that the report has been submitted since November 2009, so why is the Lagos State House of Assembly still sitting on the report? This is just a tip of the ice berg of financial recklessness by the Lagos executive led the seemingly performing governor Fashola! More soon .
By Tunde George & Kasali Martins