Newly confirmed minister Raji Fashola, the immediate former governor of Lagos state at the recent Senate confirmation process rebuffed questions on gross misappropriation of his government with casual responses saying “I am a lawyer and do not fix contract prices,” in response to allegations of misappropriation by his administration of N78 million Lagosians money for a personal website which he still retains. He said:
“I don’t fix contract prices, it is an institutional process. The only training I have is that of a lawyer, But in order to execute works on a project we need the input of architect, quantity surveyors, structural engineer and we have consulting ministries; For civil works it is the Ministry of Works, for science it is the Ministry of Science and Technology among others.
Now periodically, they do market surveys with the Ministry of Economic Planning , the Statisticians are there to fix prices from biro to Iron rod to cement and it is approved and becomes the benchmark price of government procurements, nobody can award any other contract over that benchmark.”
Again, asked on why he used N140 million for just two boreholes, about $900,000 and enough to build 100 boreholes, the former governor indignantly said, “I never personally sign the cheques.”
The responses were scary and arrogant and according to analysts suggested that he ran a most corrupt, wasteful government that likely coveted billions of Naira and worse, was indignant about such recklessness and misappropriation.
— Dr. Peregrino Brimah (@EveryNigerian) October 15, 2015
“Mr. Fashola’s response to the N78 million spent on his personal website was far from impressive. His response was long winded and obfuscating. At the end he failed to answer the question directly. He chose to talk about how he did not personally sign cheques and did not sit at contract awards. He failed to admit that as governor, the bucks stopped at his table. He ended his response with a comment on loyalty. “May our loyalty never be tested,” he said.”
He was however confirmed to be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Experts say that as Minister gross mismanagement of billions can be reasonably expected with the same arrogant and escapive posture of the former governor, claiming not to supervise the figures allocated and spent.
His confirmation puts in doubt the total capacity of the new government to tackle corruption.
An analyst said that had Fashola been in charge of the type of funds oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke was, similar figures might well be missing with the governor playing “obfuscation,” and responding that as a Lawyer, and the executive he does not know the budgets and does not write the cheques. “Would this be how he runs our ministry too, a blogger commented.”
The former governor is fondly remembered for his anti-people, unconstitutional mass deportation policies, throwing out poor Nigerians from the state to roadsides through out Yoruba states, to the far east and to the north. Over 5000 Nigerians were internally deported by the governor. He is also known for mass demolitions of poor habitations and equal mass constructions for the elite.