A coalition of civil society organisation, Civil Society Groups for Good Governance (CSGGG), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the brewing crisis in the federal ministry of agriculture.
The ministry has in the past few weeks, witnessed massive protests in its headquarters in Abuja by some aggrieved 2018 contractors who say they have not been paid their project fees despite completing their work for the ministry.
In a statement sent to journalists on Sunday, May 24, CSGGG President, Comrade Ogakwu Dominic, called on the president to prevail on the permanent secretary in the ministry, Dr Mu’azu Abdulkadir, to sign and release letters of award of contract to the contractors and pay them their due funds.
Comrade Ogakwu, who was reacting to a call for the suspension of Dr Mohammed Bello Umar by Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative, said some elements are trying to distract the aggrieved contractors by pinning their non-payment on Dr Bello, who has since been deployed to the federal ministry of science and technology.
He stated that the tenure of Dr Bello as the permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture ended on December 18, 2019, hence he cannot be held responsible for actions prior to the date.
He specifically mentioned that an office which was purchased and has been a subject of controversy, ”is not a carcass, but a complete building which all approvals including the Federal Executive Council were obtained.”
His words: ”Government is a continuum. The federal ministry of agriculture runs a rolling budget year in year out as most projects are captured as ongoing.
”Therefore, all contractors whose contract was captured in the 2018 budgetary allocation were paid in accordance to budgetary releases.
”However, contractors whose contracts are ongoing were rolled over as ongoing. And in the civil service, rollover capital projects are a key part of contract management.
”We have looked at the records and noted that Dr Bello did his own part as a permanent secretary by paying the contractors up to date, while his successor, Dr Mu’azu Abdulkadir, is actually guilty of virement as he has since refused to sign and release letters of award of contract to the respective contractors.
”We are also aware that all the allegations levied against Dr Bello is calculated at diverting the attention of people from the ongoing massive corruption and irregularities going on in federal ministry of agriculture at the moment.
”We have severally before now appeal to Dr Mu’azu to do the needful, but he only succeeded in using us as buffer to allow him pay the 2019 contract where he has vested interest as seen in the localization of the projects base on facts available to us where most of the contracts were domiciled in his locality. We are at the moment left with no choice but to continue to mobilise over a 100 CSOs in Abuja to occupy the ministry for two weeks straight.
”We also call on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene on this issue, especially as his diversification policy to strengthen the Nigerian economy through agriculture is being threatened by greedy civil servants hell-bent on sabotaging his efforts hence impoverishing hardworking Nigerians who are part and parcel of his success story in his re-election as these were Mr President’s flagship projects meant for rural intervention.”
The CSGGG further noted that Dr Bello has served in the Federal Civil Service for 35 years without any history of query or blemish and commended the promptness and sincerity of his response to the query issued him that has further exposed the ongoing rut in the FMARD under the current management.
The foremost civil society organisation warned that any attempt to drag the name of the ministry of science and technology permanent secretary into mud will be resisted.
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