Federal Ministry of Water Resources Ignoring Open Procurement Law and Awarding Gift Contract to Eromhonsele Osaze Gabriel
In what appears to be a clear and crass display of nepotism and impunity, documents have revealed that the Beninese Owena River Basin Development Authority, a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, awarded a contract to an “individual”, an engineer. Eromhonsele Osaze Gabriel, violating the law on public procurement.
According to data extracted from the government procurement portal, the contract, titled “Construction of Imoafe Street, Afuze, Owan East/West Federal Constituency, Edo State”, was awarded in 2018.
The document revealed that twenty million was originally budgeted for the project, however, the execution engulfed two million twenty thousand naira.
Meanwhile, according to the law on public procurement, individuals are not allowed to obtain contracts. In addition, a company must submit its certificate of incorporation to the CAC in order to qualify for a government contract.
This means that the company must be registered with the CAC. Other requirements include a company tax clearance certificate for the previous three years, proof of current PENCOM pension compliance, proof of current compliance with Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Acct No. 19 of 2011, proof of current registration on the national database of federal authorities. Contractors, consultants and service providers, and an audited company account for the previous three years.
Similarly, Treasury circular No. TRY/A2&B2/2009/OAGF/CAD026/V OF 24 March 2009 stipulates that “all purchases of supplies and services exceeding N200,000.00 must be made solely by the allocation of ‘contract “.
Also, Circular of the Treasury Ref. No. TRY/A2&A3/2013 OAGF/CAD/026/V.1/188 OF 9th April 2013 pointed out that “cash advance exceeding N200,000.00 should not be given to any agent for the purchase of goods and services, but the procurement must be in the form of a contract”.
The above laws show that the Beninese Development Authority’s awarding of the Owena River Basin to Osaze is a flagrant violation of public procurement law.
It is imperative to note that the Owena Benin River Basin Development Authority under the supervision of Engr. Saliu O. Ahmed, who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2017, is one of twelve River Basin Development Authorities established by the Federal Government of Nigeria through a 1986 Act which repealed the River Basin Development Authorities. Basins of 1979. Benin’s Owena River Basin Development Authority covers three states; Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and a senatorial district in Delta State.
The functions of the agency are to undertake the comprehensive development of multi-purpose surface and groundwater resources with particular emphasis on the provision of irrigation infrastructure and flood and erosion control and management of watersheds, the construction, operation and maintenance of dams, dykes, polders, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems and other works necessary for the performance of the functions of the Authority and hand over to farmers all land to be cultivated within the irrigated perimeter
Others are the supply of water from the Authority’s completed storage systems to all users at a fee to be determined by the Authority concerned, with the approval of the Minister, construction, operation and maintenance infrastructure services such as roads and bridges connecting the project sites: provided such infrastructure services are included and form part of the list of approved projects, develop and maintain a comprehensive master resource plan identifying all water resources needs in the Authority’s area of operation, through adequate collection and collection of water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental data of the watershed .