Gov. Ortom Replies Abubakar Tsav Over Contract Scam


Alhaji Abubakar Tsav,
Commissioner,
Public Complaints Commission,
Federal Secretariat,
Makurdi.
Benue State.

Dear sir


RE: HAUSA/KABAWA COMMUNITY OF GBAJIMBA AND ROAD CONTRACT NO. BNTB - 13/2016

We wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter on above subject and convey the appreciation of the Governor to you for the decision to write to him pointing out issues you consider need to be addressed. This initiative is commendable and we wish to assure that the issues raised have been noted and are being given the required attention. The need to give you a reply arises not only from courtesy which demands that the receipt of a letter be acknowledged and replied but also the responsibility to give you the correct information on the issues raised. The fact that you have decided to put the letter in the public domain has also made the reply imperative.

2. The information at your disposal regarding 22 plots of land said to belong to some Hausa/Kabawa refugees in Gbajimba which your letter claims were forcibly taken without compensation is incorrect. The truth of the matter is that neither the construction company handling the Origbo-Imande-Akpu-Gbajimba road nor any agency of government has taken land belonging to the said group of people living in Guma local government area. There had been an existing road with drains where the present road passes, what is being done is a little expansion that has not encroached on new portions of land.

3. It may interest the Honourable Commissioner to know that since the construction of the road began, it has not been brought to the knowledge of the Governor that any individual or group of Hausa/Kabawa persons complained to him that their land has been forcibly taken without compensation. The Governor has visited the site many times since the road construction began but no Hausa or Kabawa person has approached him with such a complaint, even as they are usually among hundreds of people he interacts with whenever he attend to people at his country home. It might interest you to know that the area you mentioned is in his council ward and he has personal relationship with many members of the community mentioned.

4. The Ministry of Works, Transport and Energy has addressed the issues you raised on the award of contract the Origbo-Imande-Akpu-Gbajimba road and other similar issues, hence the need to reproduce the information here for you.

5. On the issue raised bordering on M/S Tongyi New International Construction Company and the award of the Origbo-Imande-Akpu-Gbajimba road contract, we wish to inform you that the Benue State Government followed due process before awarding the contract. It was advertised and all companies registered with the Ministry were notified to bid for the project and M/S Tongyi New International Construction Company was therefore chosen based on its track record of similar work in other states.

6. On the allegation that the company could not be located at the address it gave in Asokoro the explanation is that it has relocated to Plot 105, Ebitu Ukiwe Street, Jabi Abuja. The company’s sites where it is now working were visited such as Nassarawa Toto, Lafia and Karu all in Nassarawa state to ascertain their level of capability before memo for construction was raised for consideration.

7. The Ministry has pre-qualified Enerco Nigeria Ltd and CGC Nig Ltd and they are right now working in Abuja. M/S Enerco Nig Ltd are working along Kubwa road and M/s CGC Nig Ltd working on Otukpo-Adoka-Iga Ikpaya road in Benue State and are still working on Oshigbudu-Oweto Federal road in Benue State including Apo grade inter-change in Abuja. Therefore, the allegation of incompetence on the part of the above named companies is false.

8. Another firm mentioned in the letter, M/S Rockwell Development Nigeria Ltd is not a client of the Ministry. However, it is assumed that you meant to mention Rockbridge Construction Nigeria Limited which is presently constructing the 54 kilometres Otukpo-Utonkon-Igumale road, and the 10 kilometres Oshigbudu-Obagaji road. The competence of the company in road execution is not in doubt.

9. It is the practice of the ministry that contractors are always pre-qualified before allowing them to tender for any project in the ministry and in this particular case, adverts were pasted and various contractors submitted their quotations from which comparative analysis was made and one chosen. Since we are yet to domesticate the federal government’s procurement policy, these procedures conformed to our current standards.

10. From the records of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Energy, Tongyi New International Construction Company does not belong to any government official. Your letter itself stated that the government official you mentioned in connection with it is not part of the purported Dowutas Investment which merged with HSHF Overseas Mining Limited to found Tyonyi but rather members of his family who are adults and can hold their own under the law.

11.The same procedure followed in the award of the contract above applied to all other awarded contracts. From the Ministry's records Governor Ortom has not brought any company from anywhere to shortchange the people of the state.

12. Payments for road contracts are usually based on certificates which are approved by professional staff who supervise the projects. Moreover, the Governor himself takes time to personally inspect ongoing projects to ascertain their quality and speed of execution. Every payment so far made through the Ministry can be justified by these criteria. Moreove, the government has a Special Adviser on Projects Monitoring and Evaluation, Isah Usman, and his team who have inspected the road without any report of abandonment.
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13. The Governor appreciates your drawing his attention to specific projects and assures that they would receive the required attention. He notes particularly your suggestion for the establishment of demonstration farms across the state and wishes to inform you that he is working on converting the Agriculture Training Centres at Mbatie and Otobi into such centres with the incorporation of agriculture as a business into their curricula. He has reached out to professionals in the area including Songhai Farms in Benin Republic whose managers have visited and held discussions with government officials who had paid earlier visits for the establishment of similar farms in the state. However, Governor Ortom’s passion for practical agriculture dates back to several years of personal involvement in farming. That he goes to the farm himself is also leadership by example since the laws of the land give him the liberty to so engage himself. Moreover, with the current recession what better way of demonstrating the diversification of the economy through agriculture could he find than being personally involved in farming?

14. It does seem that your interpretation of the scope of your duties as a Public Complaints Commissioner is too encompassing and may require that you take a second look. Your criticism since Governor Ortom assumed office has always tilted against the All Progressives Congress, APC-led administration in the state as opposed to your silence throughout the previous eight years that preceeded it. Sometimes you have descended to the level of personal attacks on the person of the Governor which seems to be at variance with the public office you occupy.

15. Nevertheless, we consider you as a stakeholder and will make effort to attend to your inquiries no matter the motive.
Please accept our regards and appreciation.

Signed:

Tahav Agerzua,
Special Adviser,
Media and ICT.

31st January, 2017.
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