Free Trade Zone: Osun Orders Tracking, Prosecution Of Absconded Contractors

Nemesis seems to have started catching up with the contractors who absconded after collecting money from the ousted administration of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola without executing the contracts awarded to them, as the current administration in the state has directed the state Ministry of Justice to track down the contractors, who allegedly mismanaged the government equity participation in the Osun Free Trade Zone project.

The directive was given by the state Executive Council at its 7th meeting on Wednesday after reviewing the report of the Contract Review Committee, set up by Committee, set up by the governor to review the contracts awarded and paid for by Oyinlola’s administration, but were abandoned, especially the ones awarded under the N18.3 billion taken by the administration. The contractors were identified as Messrs Abiola Olaniyan and Wale Adebayo.

The council has also directed the Bureau of Public Procurement to refund a total sum of N256,383,709.10, which was said to have been disbursed out of the N18.3 billion for the construction of six stadia embarked upon by Oyinlola’s administration.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Sunday Akere, said that the contractors have been recommended for prosecution to explain how they manage the funds in the partnership contract in a fraudulent manner. He said: “Where government says it is entering into equity participation with a company, and one of the directors of the company that is entering into agreement with the government also happens to be the signatories to the account of the government, it all borders to nothing other than fraud.”

“The government was asked to contribute $1million, while the company was supposed to contribute $2million. While the government contributed its part, the company did not contribute its part, but they ended up squandering the one contributed by the government. Whether they are here or outside Nigeria, they must be tracked down”, he insisted.

He also said that many excesses of the last administration were discovered after reviewing the report of the committee and the Bureau of Public Procurement had been compelled to refund a total sum of N256,383,709.10, which includes the release of N150 million as fees to consultants on the construction of six stadia in the state.

According to him, the government would not stop the construction of the stadia, but the scope of Osogbo City Stadium would be reduced, while the scope of works on the ones in Ilesa, Ile-Ife, Ede, Ikirun and Iwo, would be brought down to a level that the cost of funding and finishing would not be more that what has been paid as mobilization fees.

The council, Akere said, also ratified the list of the towns that would benefit from the first phase of N1,086,000,000 road rehabilitation contract in the state, identifying Osogbo, Ikirun, Ede, Ilesa, Ife and Iwo, which are the six zonal headquarters as beneficiaries, just as he noted that other major towns would benefit through repairs of roads that would be undertaken by the Osun Road Maintenance Agency.

He noted that major roads had been agreed to be opened up, as the road linking Osun to Ijebu-Igbo which is aimed at creating easy access to Lagos, would be handled by the Chinese firm that is partnering with the state, while the Gbongan-Osogbo and the East-West bypass road would be handled by Julius Berger Construction Limited, saying that “we are looking forward that immediately we enter into this year’s dry season, Osun roads would be opened up and we will see the wonder of road construction”.

The commissioner further revealed that the council also accepted the recommendation that the contract for the supply, installation and test-running of the equipment of the Drug Manufacturing Company be terminated, while a board should be constituted to run the affairs of the company.

On UNIOSUN, the council, he noted, also accepted the recommendation that the payment of five per cent deduction from the local governments’ funds be released in line with Section 4 of Osun State University Development Fund Establishment Law, 2007, with a view to pushing the effect of reduction in fees recently ordered by the governor.

He added that the release of funds approved for purchase of Outside Broadcasting Van (OBV) and Satelite for news gathering for the State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) out of N18.3 billion loan had been approved by the council.

Also, the Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP) was approved with the aim of achieving the objectives of making the state the food basket of the nation through massive food production.

Recalling that workers in the health sector had been on strike for the past few months, Akere further noted that the council has also approved the payment of 75 per cent of what the workers were demanding for, a situation that had propelled them to call off the strike action.