Paul Obi in Abuja
The German Embassy in Nigeria has warned that the refusal of Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari to pay a German contractor, Mr. Richard Klosa his contract debt of about N195 million could ruin the federal government bilateral agreements with Germany in areas such as trade, investment and defence.
THISDAY gathered that the said contract was executed and completed in 2013 and the balance, which amounted to N195 million, was allegedly being owed Klosa by the governor, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF).
Klosa, who has spent the last 41 years of his life in Nigeria as a contractor, had earlier alleged that â€œthe governor was indebted to him to the sum of N195,594,262. 53, being the outstanding cost of contract he executed in the state at the instance of the governor.â€
In a private letter to Gov. Yari by the German embassy and signed by the ChargÃ¨ Ä Affaires, Regine Hess, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY, the German government warned of the consequences of Zamfara State government not paying the debt.
The German embassy cautioned that such action could ruin Nigeriaâ€™s trade and investment drive with foreign nations, adding: â€œAs Governor of Zamfara State and NGF Chairman, it must be in your utmost interest to create positive investment conditions for foreign and national companies alike and to stand out as a positive example for business and development-oriented policies.
â€œThere are many opportunities for Zamfara State and German companies to work together as I am sure you have already seen during your visit to Germany last year. And I am sure that you will have discussed with German companies the necessity for a conducive business environment, if you want to attract foreign investors.
â€œOne very important aspect of a conducive environment is that current and future business partners have the assurance that contracts will be met and payments done swiftly,â€ the German embassy stated.
THISDAY also gathered that the failure of Zamfara State government to respond to the German embassy led Klosa to approach the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, an indigene of Zamfara State, who has been at the forefront of Nigeria- Germany bilateral agreements on defence.
Recently, the German Minister of Defence, Ursula von de Leyen delivered some military hardware and medical equipment to the Nigerian government through Dan-Ali.
THISDAY also learnt that the matter was already in court in Germany and has also been reported to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs for onward action.
But speaking to THISDAY, media aide to Minister of Dedence, Col. Tukur Gusau stated that the bilateral agreements should not be mixed up with the private affairs between Klosa and Zamfara State government.
On the contract, Klosa had stated that â€œbased on agreement that my money would be paid immediately after completion of work at the stateâ€™s FM station, I used my money to supply additional air conditioners, earthing system and other equipment which were omitted by a local contractor that handled the radio building complex.â€
He alleged that four years after the completion of work, the governor was yet to pay him and instead, had allegedly been evading him.
In a paper released recently, titled â€˜Global Appeal to the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, the Nigerian Government, well-meaning Nigerians to compel Zamfara State Government to pay for contract doneâ€™, Klosa had appealed to the Acting President and said this became necessary given that the governor had turned deaf ears to many people who had hitherto intervened on his behalf.
He said although petitions had been written to the Human Rights Radio, Minister of Information, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the governor was yet to pay.
Klosa stated that â€œinstead of paying the debt, the governor wanted to further engage him in the setting up of the stateâ€™s AM station, but based on advice of some Nigerian friends, I pulled out of the fresh contract with the governor.â€
â€œMy major problems in Nigeria and Germany resulting from the torture by the Zamfara State governor are that I was not able to pay the office rent at Abuja for the past three years.
â€œI have not been able to pay salaries for the past two years, FIRS is on our neck to the extent that they have put stickers on the office door warning people not to transact business with us and we had closed our German office in April, this yearâ€, he lamented.
Speaking to THISDAY, Special Adviser on Media to Governor Yari, Alhaji Ibrahim Dosara, said the state government could not comment on the matter, as it would be premature to do so.
Dosara insisted that until evidence on the ground are presented to the media and the public, the Zamfara State government would not join issues with Klosa.