The Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, has said he did not abandon any federal government contracts or projects as claimed by the Senate Committee on Communication last week.
Speaking with journalists in Ibadan, the Minister said
” it will be inconceivable to say that any of the current Ministers abandon any federal government projects,” adding that he was optimistic that President Muhammadu Buhari could not have made any mistake by appointing any of the current minister which took him six months to do.
The Minister pointed out that he was able to save the Federal government about N600 million with his decision to ensure transparency in the award of the Ministry’s contracts.
“It is a mis-normal to say the projects are being abandoned. To start with, it is inconceivable, that any minister and I want to believe that President Muhammadu Buhari could not have made any mistake by appointing any of the current Ministers ,” ,he said.
The Minister added, “it took him six months, and he has done thorough job and I am happy that none of us has disappointed him nor disappointed Nigerians. So it is inconceivable that a minister will abandon federal government projects,” .
According to the Minister, the meaning of abandoning is when you start something and you then dissociate, saying, “but in this case, the contract or the project which are subject matter of discussion are yet to commence at all. They are not yet even been awarded. So the proper thing would be, properly speaking that there is delay in awarding the contracts. So, it will be a mis-normal to say that any project has been abandoned. Number two. Now they are accusing me of delay, something must have caused the delay. “
Barrister Shittu said in screening the contracts, the Communications Ministry’s Ministerial Tender board sent their final report to him 6 weeks ago after which a petition was sent to the Ministry on some of the contracts, adding that with the President Muhammadu Buhari led government commitment to fighting corruption, he cannot wave the petition aside .
“To start with, it took the National Assembly seven months to approve the budget, out of the 12 months of the budge life. The next thing is that, to award a contract, fund must be available, and also must be allocated for the specific project. And you will recall that the current system is what we called the envelope system because each project is in its own envelope. “
“So, to award any contract, then, there must be not only approval but it must also be released. After the release, the procurement department of the ministry commences, the Ministerial tender board meeting was held six weeks ago, if there is no ministerial tender board meeting, then there is noting for the minister to be approval. And there is nothing for the ministry to award. Six weeks ago, the ministerial tender board met and sent their final report to me for my approval. As the board was coming in, we had a number of petitions protesting against the fact that there were suspicion deals by the procurement department. “
Barrister Shittu maintained that “as an apostle of President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade, I cannot turn the other eye, I must look at the petitions, and what I did was that, it set up a committee within the ministry which was inaugurated by the new permanent Secretary two weeks ago.”
” The report of that committee was turned in to the Permanent Secretary only last Monday. And as at the time we when to the committee, the report has not yet even gotten to me. And when we met the Senate committee and House of Representatives, I made this known to them and told them that there has been a delay in view of these issues, but I assured them that by this Tuesday, all the contacts would have been concluded. So, in such a situation, how do you talk of abandonment?