Mimiko and Akeredolu
Lateef Rajiis of the view that the debates culminating in the October 20 governorship election in Ondo State should be issue-based
Less than three weeks from now, the governorship election in Ondo State will be gone. Already preceding this are campaigns of different nature. Much as there had been attempts to narrow the campaigns down to constructive engagements, the exercise had been shrouded in filthy politics, thus leaving the electorate more confused than they should have been in deciding their choice candidate in that election.
But with the debate thrown up amongst the various candidates in the election, perhaps, the time is right to bring up constructive and issue-based engagement in lieu of the election. And this is without prejudice to anyone in particular, notwithstanding my political leaning as a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the party for whom the election is certain to win.
As one who is in government and understands the nuances as well as the complications that dot policy execution, it is only trite that the present Ondo State Government is accorded some benefit of doubts in the posers that will be raised in this very engagement while hoping that in subsequent interface, some of the issues raised herein would have been laid to rest with facts and figures as it were.
Thus, beyond façade of sterling performance being accorded the governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, are some of the issues I intend to bring up here with a view to genuinely igniting a gubernatorial debate.
Sometime in early 2010, at one of the executive cabinet meetings, the exco agreed to enhance agricultural produce by purchasing 100 units of 72HP Massey Ferguson Tractors with following sets of implement; ton Hydralic Tipping Trailer, Dis Ridger, Disc Harrow and Disc Plough. Then Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief J.A Akinnigbagbe, Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Rotimi Adelola, and Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Yele Ogundipe, were consequently mandated to source for viable banks that could purchase the items on lease finance loan for a good period of time before the expiration of the government’s first term in office.
Also at the same meeting, Dynamic Agrosol limited, was consulted to supply the tractors. The negotiation with Dynamic Agrosol Limited for the 100 units and the implements of the 72HP Massey Ferguson Tractors was negotiated and reported to cost N594,819,915.60 (five hundred and ninety-four million, eight hundred and nine thousand and nine hundred and fifteen naira sixty kobo) only.
Dr. Adelola, therefore, reached out to First Bank Plc, in February 2010 for the deal. He wrote to the bank after his informal discussion with First Bank’s officials at their Alagbaka branch in Akure, Ondo State. Several other meetings were held after the bank headquarters had agreed to finance the project.
However, at another meeting, the bank and the government officials agreed to reduce the 100 unit of Massey Ferguson Tractors to 62 units at the same cost of N594,819,915.60 kobo. Furtherance to actualising the deal and the willingness of First Bank to formalise financing of the 62 units of tractors, the bank sent a Product of Offer letter to the government through the office of Dr. Adelola. The letter dated April 12, 2012 with reference number Aku 121395/L/ was sent from the bank’s Alagbaka branch office. The bank agreed to provide finance lease with payment tenor spread across 33 months. It was billed to commence in April 2010 and expire this month, October 2012.
The usual lease finance loan proposal and condition of terms were attached with the Product of Offer letter as well as the Acceptance of Offer sent to the office of Dr. Adelola. Thus, at the executive cabinet meeting of April 2010, the cabinet was pleased with the outcome of the interface with the First Bank on the deal. Subsequently, Dr. Adelola was assigned to finally seal the deal with the bank, while the fund was to be released to the Ministry of Finance, which in turn would liaise with the Ministry of Agriculture and the tractors’ supplier, Dynamic Agrosol Limited.
Surprisingly, while negotiation with the First Bank was ongoing, another was initiated by the governor’s kitchen cabinet with another bank. The deal, with the same proposal of 100 units of same 72HP Massey Ferguson Tractors with the same implements, was being negotiated. The kitchen cabinet at a meeting in July 2010, mandated Chief J.A Akinnigbagbe and Mr. Yele Ogundipe, the state Commissioners for Agriculture and Finance, to reach out to Fidelity Bank Plc and discuss the financing through the same process like the one Dr. Adelola had successfully struck with First Bank.
For a certain period of time, the duo of Akinnigbagbe and Ogundipe was slow to acting as directed until the governor allegedly reprimanded them at one of their meetings sometime in November, 2010. Following this, the two men met with Dr. Adelola who had advised them to go ahead as instructed by His Excellency.
Thus, on November 19, 2010, the Agricu ministry wrote another letter to Dynamic Agrosol Limited, giving the approval to supply Ondo State government the 100 of Massey Ferguson tractors with reference number AEH11851259. Having equipped themselves with information from Dr. Adelola, an erstwhile banker, Akingbagbe and Ogundipe subsequently wrote to Fidelity Bank’s Managing Director through the Ondo State Ministry of Finance letter headed, requesting the bank to finance purchase of 100 units of 72HP Massey Ferguson Tractors with the following set of implements; Ton Hydrautic Tipping Trailer, Disc Ridger, Disc Harrow and Disc plough.
The response from Fidelity Bank Plc on the request was not, however, encouraging as evident in a letter the bank sent on November 25, 2010. Left with that situation, Akingbagbe and Ogundipe jointly wrote and signed another letter to Fidelity Bank on December 2, 2010 with reference number SCF 29/28, requesting the bank to now finance the same tractors and implements for N954,819,915.60 Kobo, however, for 62 units of the same 72HP massey Ferguson Tractors with same sets of implements attached.
The attention of one Dr. Musa was drawn in the reconfirmation letter, while the supplier, Dynamic Agrosol Limited, was copied that a full Advance Payment Guarantee (APG) was still required in the transaction.
With the fresh negotiation still ongoing, it is worthy of note that only seven units of tractors and equipment sets were supplied to the state government at the cost of N594,819,915.60Kobo, as against the 100 units proposed at inception with First Bank. And since April 2010, First Bank has been collecting repayment for the entire transaction from the government. Unfortunately for government, Fidelity Bank has discovered the trick being played on the banks.
I can reliably inform that even the seven tractors supplied to government in 2011 were manufactured in 2009. The chasis numbers of the seven (7) tractors so far supplied out of the 100 are: K75326/05/9 with the engine number LF99001V 507275S; K75173/05/9 with the engine number LF99001V 505328S; K75340/09/9 with engine number LF9001V 507350S; K75339/04/9 with the engine number LF99001V 507379S: K75329/11/9 with the engine number LF99001V 507251S; K75330/03/9 with the number LF99001V 507232S and K75340/03/9 with the engine number LF99001V 507321S.
The Seven tractors were supplied with implements’ set that included Alico-Disc plough 3 Discs, Alico-Disc Harrow-16Discs (Disc 2411) and Alico Rigger-3 Furrow through Mac Tonnel Nigeria Limited, Apapa, in Lagos State. All these were at the cost of N594,819,915.60kobo.
This somewhat shoddy transaction soon took another turn, when the state government allegedly went ahead to insure the100 units of the tractors with an insurance company (name withheld) at the cost of N25 million and yet, under-paid for the insurance.
Coming from the analysis above, much as it appears more like a fraud being perpetrated by government, it is imperative to accord government some degree of response before conclusions are drawn. But the questions are: Why would government agreed to buy 62 tractors for the initial negotiation of 100 at the same amount? Why does it have just seven since supplied despite the fact that repayment for full purchase is still ongoing? Of what basis was the need to involve Fidelity Bank when the deal had been signed, sealed and delivered with the First Bank arrangement? These and more, the Ondo State Government must answer as we engage it further in the ensuing debate.
Without doubt, this is the kind of engagement that will enrich the voting power of the people as they file out on October 20 to either effect change or live with what presently obtains in the name of governance.
•Raji is Special Adviser to the Lagos State Government on Information