UYO SAFE CITY CONTRACT UNDER HAMMER

UYO SAFE CITY CONTRACT UNDER HAMMER

By: Edet Bassey

Contract for the supply and installation of Safe City Surveillance Monitoring and Communication Equipment valued at N1,728 Billon awarded by Governor Udom Emmanuel to Mimshec Digital Limited has come under hammer by concerned and discerning Akwa Ibomites.

The uproar is coming soon after publication of the article “Udom Does Not Listen”. Many have not only disapproved of the contract but have also expressed dismay at Governor Emmanuel’s indiscretion and investment choices in the state. Some of the comments were instructive and provided leads to what one described as a jigsaw puzzle that if unravelled may point to a grand design to short change the people.

A peep at the puzzle elicits grave suspicion regarding the timing of award of the contract. For instance, the Governor’s letter requesting the House of Assembly for a resolution to approve borrowing the sum of N1,728 Billion from Zenith Bank for executing the project was dated 31st January 2019. As per the said letter, contract for the project had earlier been awarded to the contractor though no date was stated for the award.

On 13th March 2019, the House of Assembly put a seal on the Governor’s request authorizing government to borrow. It’s curious that this transaction took place in the 1st quarter of the year (Jan – Mar) at the peak of the general elections when Deacon Emmanuel opened his political campaign war chest. Was it a coincidence or design that the contract came through at the critical moment of the 2019 general elections when money to prosecute the election mattered most? Aware of the crippling nature of government business at such period, it is difficult to image that Udom or any Governor for that matter would focus on the award of contract without ulterior interest and unattended by any emergency thereof.

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A critical look at the Governor’s letter to the House of Assembly reveals some ambiguity if not vagueness of content. In the said latter of 31st January 2019, the Governor wrote . . . “Government has awarded a contract to Mimshac Digital Ltd . . .”. Ofcourse, referring to the government of Akwa Ibom state. Anybody who is familiar with government business knows the procedures for award of government contracts.

Yes, government does award contracts but often and usually through any of its various Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Government activities and operations including award of contracts are encapsulated in the workings of the various organs of government. As an established procedure, responsible or appropriate organs of government initiates, processes and supervises contract execution as duly awarded. It is a standard practice that the Ministry of works on behalf of government awards and supervises execution of all manner of construction contracts (roads, buildings etc) sponsored by government. Government is the sponsor/project owner; the Ministry is the client and consultant and then the contractor. The Governor’s letter under reference did not disclose the client/consultant of government on the safe city contract.

Failure to make such disclosure as expected raises an alarm and conceals knowledge of government’s client/consultant on the project. This requisite and inexcusable information is necessary for the public and the House of Assembly in particular for the conduct of its oversight functions to hold to account the client and or contractor in the event of non-performance.

Hiding in the cloak of government without the necessary disclosure to award what a contributor described as a spurious contract is a fraud and a disservice to the people of Akwa Ibom state.

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Akwa Ibom people should by now be distraught with the lies and deception of this government. The lies and suspicion inherent in Udom’s Uyo safe city contract leaves one with reasonable conclusion that there was/is no contract afterall. One cannot trace the contract to an “Elusive Government” of Akwa Ibom state as project owner/sponsor without an identifiable client.

We want to know the client, that is, the Ministry or Department of government that processed the contract and set to supervise same. Without such valuable information, investigation of the matter is greatly hindered.

We should pause and ponder for a moment how a personality as urbane as Deacon Udom Emmanuel, an informed Harvard school graduate who supposedly knows what the time is; aware of the flop that occasioned the Abuja and Lagos city surveillance monitoring projects would want to commit Akwa Ibom funds to such unpardonable wastage.

It is unthinkable that he (Udom) would want to take Akwa Ibom through a familiar route of failure and wastage as if we can neither think nor discern the probity of his action. As posited earlier, every discerning and patriotic Akwa Ibomite knows that Uyo is not ripe or ready for safe city surveillance monitoring; not with the lame justification proffered by the Governor. If the technology did not work in mega cities like Lagos and Abuja, there is absolutely no room for it in a quasi-urban city like Uyo.

Assuming Uyo safe city project was an emergency that called for the Governor’s attention at the heat of the last election; the contract having been awarded and processed in the last 6months, how come there is no evidence or sign of any job done in respect of the contract considering its emergency? No one is set to punch holes in government actions.

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The flaws and coincidence in the Uyo safe city surveillance saga is too worrisome to be ignored because head or tail Akwa Ibom suffers for it.

As we wait in readiness for the contract execution, the Lagos/Abuja experience is clear and vivid on our minds. Worst case scenario is the speculation or knowledge that N1,728 Billion of state funds may have been deceitfully misappropriated by government for non-existing contract.

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