ANTI-CORRUPTION GROUP ACCUSES KWARA GOVT OF INFLATING SCHOOL MAINTENANCE CONTRACT BY 40MIL

Kwara government says the items the group described as inflated are statutory.

A Kwara-based civic group advocating for accountability and transparency in governance, Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), has accused the state government of inflating the cost of renovating Government High School, Ilorin by over N40.5 million.

The group, In a letter signed by its coordinator, Lateef Alagbonsi, alerted Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, about its social audit of the project.

The group stated that its re-calculation of the Bill of Quantities, a document detailing the amount spent on each items in a construction project, shows that the accurate contract sum “was supposed to be N321,427,233 as against the N361,957,439 approved by the Ministry of education”.

It should be noted that the state government, through its ministry of education, approved the sum of N361,957,439 for the comprehensive renovation of the school last year.

ENetSuD further explained that there are some ‘irrelevant’ items in the BoQ.

These irrelevant items, which according to the group, amounted to N40,530,208 include, supervision, monitoring and evaluation, project design and production of BoQ and photographs for each projects’ bills among others.

The organisation argued that most of these have been taken care of by the preliminary provisions, which preceded the commencement of the project.

Meanwhile, it tasked Governor AbdulRazaq to consider and approve the revision of the contract sum, urging him to use the excess ₦40,530,208 for “other people-oriented projects like the provision of water to marginalised communities across Kwara.”

Government reacts

But In its reaction, the ministry of education and human capital development said the items the group described as inflated are statutory.

“The items which are in the project that ENetSud described as contract inflation covered statutory deductions for Withholding Tax (WHT), development levy, vetting fees, preliminary, contingency and progress photographs. These are statutory fees and taxes that are deducted from all projects payable to the state Government through either the Ministry of Justice or Ministry of Finance as revenue.

“They are lawful. Not a kobo of this money is due to the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development. It is therefore out of place for anyone to take liberty in the social media or social audit to impugn the characters of public/servants,” the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Kemi Adeosun, stated.

Commenting on this, Abideen Olasupo, a civic rights advocate, said a procurement agency and board should be created for proper supervision of government projects.

“It’s evident from the release that the government already admitted the fund came back to her purse,” he added, urging the state government to take the advice of ENetSuD on channeling the sum into other projects.