By Mumini AbdulKareem
The alleged breach of the state Procurement Law by Kwara State Government in the award of contracts has been condemned by top lawyers in the state.
An online medium, Fresh Insight in its serial report on the alleged scandal rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq said its findings revealed a breach in the contract awarded to MECA and Traxi, two of the beneficiary companies in the tractorisation exercise in the state for farmers.
The award of the contract, the medium said was unknown to the extant procurement laws of Kwara state, as it never followed due process as prescribed by the law.
“According to section 31 subsection (3) of the Kwara state 2018 Procurement Law, no negotiations unless otherwise provided for by this law shall be conducted with the suppliers, contractors…”, this provision was negated according to the acceptance letter written by MECA which confirms that all the conditions included in the provisional offer letter was against earlier negotiations entered into by both parties.
“In the same vein, according to section 32(3) of the procurement Law, “In the case of goods, works and services valued under National competitive bidding, the invitation for bids shall be advertised on the notice board of the procuring entity and the state procurement journal and at least one national newspaper not less than 6 weeks before the deadline of the invitation bid”, the online medium quoted.
The Kwara state government tractorisation exercise clearly violated the provision of section 32 (3) of the State Procurement Law, as there was no advertisement on a national newspaper inviting interested members of the public to participate in the bidding process.
Corroborating the section above, Section 46 reads, “Where a procuring entity wishes to procure services for its needs which are precise and ascertainable: (a) It shall solicit for expression of interest or applications to pre-qualify to provide services by publishing a notice to that effect in at least two (2) national newspapers and procurement journals”.
These two (2) provisions of the Kwara state 2018 procurement Law, shows that the lease of tractors contract awarded to MECA and Traxi contravenes the extant laws of Kwara state”, it noted.
Reacting to the issue, Barrister Olasehind Adeseko said if there is a breach to such law, there are always consequences adding that such benefiting companies may not benefit from the contract at the end of the day.
“Ab initio, the defaulting company should not benefit from the contract. Procurement is at the point of giving out the contract and once issued, it cannot be issue of procurement again. Except if there is specific provision by the time of the procurement. Such person should be responsible for the penalty stipulated”, he added.
On his part, Barrister Suleiman Ababa said procurement law is one of the anti corruption law made to curb the issue of kick back, abuse of office and abuse of official privileges in the conduct of government affairs which was recently domesticated in Kwara state.
“Since the duty vested by the constitution upon the state is to ensure good governance of law and order that public official must be able to give account of their stewardship. That penalty is face disciplinary action with penal consequences.
“A breach of it will cause adequate sanction and following the due process, it was at the expense of the masses who will be at the receiving end of the untoward actions of violation. Lack of the willingness of the government will expose the society to the dander of free for all looting and portray the government in a bad light and the infrastructure will suffer greatly.
“It is a serious issue and can it have serious consequences. Because of downward trend of the oil business in the international market, agriculture which is becoming the mainstay of the economy will suffer greatly and there is need for the government to hold people to account.
“The government of the state and federal which prides itself as anti corruption fighters must keep to the letter the procumbent act because it was not made for fun. The Kwara State farmers suffered a great during the last administration because there was not adequate accountability on the CBN anchor borrowers programme. The law must be executed to the letter otherwise the whole programme is going to fail and when it does people will no longer have confidence in the government. That is why those who are at the helms of affairs must enforce it through the court and security agencies when there is a breach”, he added.
However, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Murtala Olanrewaju speaking with this medium on Sunday denied the report adding that “There is nothing like that. The social media report is not correct. There was no due diligence. The ministry followed all the normal procedure in the award of the contract”.