Grass-cutting probe: I’ve no power to award contracts, says SGF

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawan

Friday Olokor, Abuja

The embattled Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal,  on Friday said his office does not award contracts, contrary to the public perception, adding that all contracts go through due process.

He was reacting to reports that he had been invited by the Senate to explain how some 20 ghost companies got contracts worth N1.3bn.

Lawal in a statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations in his Office, Bolaji Adebiyi, said the contracts in question were awarded only after the requisite clearances were obtained from the Bureau of Public Procurement.

The statement said, “First of all, the Office of the SGF observes that the headlines are at complete variance with the body of the story. Indeed, in the body of the story, Senator Shehu Sani made it clear to the reporters when he said ‘Meanwhile, you should understand that we are not investigating the SGF alone. We are investigating contracts that were awarded under the Presidential Initiative on the North-East. The implication is that PINE is really the body to answer all enquiries regarding the contract awards. Not the SGF.

“To the real and more important issue, the general public should not be misled to believe that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has the authority or power to award contracts. This, indeed, is not the case. As with all awards of contract in government, the PINE projects under investigation went through what is referred to as due process in public expenditure.

“The contracts were awarded only after the requisite clearances were obtained from the BPP. It is expected that these clearances are obtained only when all conditions precedent to the awards of contracts are met. Apart from the BPP hurdle, the Tenders Board of the procuring agencies, in this instance, the Office of the SGF, has to approve of the contracts before they are awarded. At no time were these processes compromised in the award of contracts by PINE.  It must be emphasised also, that the SGF is not even a member of the Tenders Board.”

Lawal enjoined the media to be mindful of the structure of government, the powers of the functionaries and the stringent processes and procedures that go into public sector expenditure while reporting.

He said, “The SGF despite his position in government cannot award contracts. He is not even a member of the Tenders Board.  All contracts must, indeed, pass the acid test of obtaining clearance from the BPP and the scrutiny of the Tenders Board.

“PINE contracts were awarded following strict compliance with public expenditure and procurement processes. It will interest everyone to know too, that all PINE projects were properly and satisfactorily executed. The beneficiaries have continued to express their appreciation to the Federal Government for PINE intervention, that in many cases, has accelerated the return of normalcy to hitherto ravaged communities.”

Copyright PUNCH.               
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

Contact: [email protected]

Source: punch