In an open letter written to the Lagos State Government, Funsho Doherty, the 2023 governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party, called public attention to some obscure projects awarded to contractors by the Lagos State Government in the second quarter of 2023.
The letter pointed out that the state government spent N7,400,000 to replace liquid fragrance in the governor’s office, N2,017,840,000 to replace rechargeable lamps and fans in the office of the deputy governor and N535,500,000 to renovate a church, among other disturbing expenditures.
Furthermore, the procurement records revealed many instances where the state government allocated monies to ministries that awarded contracts for projects that were part of their core responsibilities.
FIJ has now examined the state’s sub-national debt as of June 2023, as documented by the Debt Management Office. According to the records, Lagos State currently has a debt stock of N996,440,044,235.35.
With this figure in debt, it is expected that government expenditures are optimal. However, FIJ found that some of the projects awarded by the government between May and October 2023 may reveal otherwise.
Some of the poignant expenses are N1.7 billion for purchasing vehicles for the Office of the Chief of Staff’s Carpool, N17 million for refitting Bola Tinubu’s ferry, and N54 million for cleaning and maintaining the statehouse, among other questionable expenditures, according to the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency.
MAY 2023: N18.5m FOR CHICKENS TO THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF STAFF, N1.7M FOR INTERVIEW CONSULTANCY
In May 2023, the Lagos State Government awarded about N18.5 million to the office of the governor’s chief of staff for the purchase and distribution of 2000 Noiler chickens across the local government areas in the state.
Aside from the peculiarity of the allocation, the project was awarded to Seed and Seedlings Enterprise, an entity that is listed as inactive by the Corporate Affairs Commission. By implication, the entity violates Section 822 (1) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA 2020), which mandates all entities to file annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) by June 30.
As of the time of this report, the company had not fulfilled this requirement. Per the Lagos State procurement law, contracts can be awarded to entities that have fulfilled all of their obligations to pay taxes, pension and social security contributions.
In the same May, the Lagos State awarded N1.7 million to a consultancy service for an interview on Channels. According to the project line, the state consulted Bekanni Limited to discuss and analyse state debt and budget funding, a duty that would normally fall under the purview of the state’s ministry of finance.
According to Funsho Doherty’s open letter, honorable mentions in May include the award of N2.1 billion and N3.1 billion under the state’s ministry of transportation for consultancy services on the blue and red rail line projects respectively.
JUNE 2023: N400m LEXUS, 10 OTHER VEHICLES FOR THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF STAFF; SEVEN MILLION FOR LIQUID FRAGRANCE
First, the state government allocated N80,841,103 for the purchase of 10 units of foreign-used vehicles for the office of the chief of staff alone. As a standalone expenditure, the project may not be too flagrant, especially since the office is pivotal for executive support.
However, in the same month, the state government allocated another N440,750,000 to the same office for the purchase of a brand new Lexus, not as an official car, but as one of the vehicles in the carpool of the chief of staff.
Also in June, the government allocated N20,804,500 to the office of the chief of staff to decorate the meeting venue for political delegates’ congress.
The contract was awarded to Equally Diverse Solutions, a business with an almost non-existent digital footprint save the name of its owner. Bolaji Durojaiye, the founder of Equally Diverse Solutions, was part of the 22-member inauguration committee for the swearing-in ceremony of the governor.
Also in the same month, the government awarded N7,475,000 to ARC44 to replace liquid fragrance in the office of the state governor. Aside from the peculiarity of this contract, the state government violated procurement requirements by awarding it to ARC44, which was only recently founded in February 2023.
JULY 2023: N 2 BILLION FOR RECHARGEABLE FANS, N1.7 MILLION FOR GOVERNOR’S PORTRAITS
In the order of magnitude, the government’s most questionable contract was N2,017,840,000 for the purchase of rechargeable fans, fridges and lights for the governor’s office.
For a project of this worth, the awardee is expected to act in compliance with procurement laws and business practices. The state government may also be violating procurement laws by awarding the contract to Judkom Enterprises. The awardee is barely three years old, and it is listed as inactive on the CAC website.
By implication, Judkom Enterprises violates Section 822 (1) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA 2020), which mandates all entities to file annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) by June 30 every year.
But that’s not all. The state government awarded N1.7 million to Xian Integrated Service Limited to produce new portraits of the governor and the deputy governor.
In the same month, the state government awarded N400 million to Caverton Helicopters as money for the flying expenses of ad-hoc charter planes by the Lagos State Government.
Furthermore, the state government allocated N30 million to Rodies Logistics for monthly empowerment programmes of the Office of the Deputy Governor’s Wife. The governor’s wife also got N30 million for a monthly outreach of indigent citizens. This is regardless of the non-existence of the office in the Nigerian constitution.
Honourable mentions in July include the allocation of N2,820,000 to purchase reed diffusers for the governor’s lodge and N1.2 million to compile and produce the speech of the deputy governor within a four-year period.
AUGUST: ANOTHER POOL OF CARS TO THE CHIEF OF STAFF, N54 MILLION FOR CLEANING AND MAINTAINING THE STATE HOUSE
In August 2023, the Lagos House and the Presidential Lodge in Marina alone got about N54 million of taxpayers’ money for cleaning, maintenance and decoration.
In breakdown, N18,273,500 was awarded to upgrade and maintain the lawn and beautify the Lagos State House and the Presidential Lodge. In another project line, N13,052,500 was awarded for upgrading, maintaining and beautifying the lawn on the premises of the state house and the presidential lodge. Another N21,111,575 was allocated for cleaning the same buildings in the same month.
Also, the state government awarded another N111,5000,000 to Caverton Helicopters for ad-hoc plane charter by the Lagos State Government that month.
The chief of staff’s vehicle pool got another 10 County buses in August for N600,000,005.50. It also got another 20 brand-new Ashok Leyland Falcon buses at a total cost of N99,976,075.
SEPTEMBER: 2.5 MILLION TO POLISH THE FLOOR OF THE EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, 73 MILLION TO PRODUCE PORTRAITS
In September 2023, the Lagos State Government awarded N2.5 million to Matotex Integrated Services for polishing the floor of the meeting rooms and soundproof wooden doors of the executive chamber.
The same month, the Lagos State Government allocated another money for portraits. This time around, the description was rather ambiguous. A total of N73.1 million was awarded to Flolizvi Connect to print presidential and gubernatorial portraits. It is unclear how many portraits the governor’s office needs and how many governors the portraits will be printed for.
An honorable mention in November would be the state government’s procurement of outdoor LED color display and equipment for N8 million.
OCTOBER 2023: MORE VEHICLES FOR THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF STAFF, 17 MILLION FOR BOLA TINUBU’S FERRY
The Lagos State procurement records list a contract award of N17,930700 for retrofitting ‘Mr. Bola Tinubu’s Ferry in October, under the auspices of the Lagos State Ferry Service.
The same month, the state government also awarded another N473,305,843.82 to Lakeside Investment to purchase two units of Toyota Land Cruiser for use in the chief of staff’s office. The vehicles allotted to the office alone within the space of six months add up to more than 40 vehicles, according to the procurement records.
The government allocated N16.8 million to the Lagos State Ministry of Justice for stakeholders meeting with monarchs, traditional ruler and chiefs in local government areas across the state in October 2023. This contract was awarded to NASKUB Nigeria Enterprises. The cost of the award aside, FIJ found that the enterprise has no digital footprint. It is non-existent, according to the Corporate Affairs Commission’s website. Per the Lagos State Procurement Agency, this business is not eligible for a government contract. A certificate of registration is a mandatory requirement for businesses bidding for government contracts.
Finally, the Office of the Deputy Governor alone got a sum of N49,922,974.39 for renovation and the purchase of upholstery.
Funsho Doherty’s letter has sparked public interest and multiple discussions about the Lagos State expenditure. Most importantly, however, it raises questions about the financial consciousness and transparency of the procurement process in the Lagos State Government.
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