Osinbajo denies abuse of due process in contract awards

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The vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said that all the agencies he supervises always follow due process in the award of contracts and other critical matters.

The vice president was reacting to a report that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed him to seek presidential approvals for contract awards, annual reports, annual accounts, power to borrow, and power to make regulations, among other key functions.

TheCable had, on Tuesday, September 17 reported that Buhari directed Osinbajo to henceforth seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision.

The online news medium explained that under the laws setting up the agencies, the president is empowered to give final approvals but that the provisions were not strictly followed during the first term.

It stated that the directive to follow due process was issued via a presidential memo on Monday.

Currently, Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA).

He is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company owned by the three tiers of government.

In addition, the vice-president chairs the National Economic Council (NEC), a constitutional body made up of state governors and key federal government officials, as well as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

On Monday, Buhari appointed and Economic Advisory Council (EAC) and disbanded the Economic Management Team (EMT) led by Osinbajo.

Buhari had appointed Osinbajo chairman of EMT during his first term, although the position was held by ministers of finance under previous administrations.

“There are unconfirmed reports that NEMA and National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) will now be moved from the office of the VP to the newly created ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, headed by Sadiya Umar Farouq,” said the online medium.

However, Osinbajo, in a statement made available to NewsGazette by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande stated that he “has always insisted on due compliance with the enabling statutes and other established regulations.”

The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to a sensational report by The Cable published on September 17, 2019, which claims that…President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed vice president Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to seek approvals for agencies under him.

“The report suggests, falsely, that agencies under the supervision of the vice president do not normally comply with established rules where presidential approvals are required.

 “This is obviously misleading and aims only to plant seeds of discord in the Presidency, while attempting to create unnecessary national hysteria.

 “The agencies in question are established by law and the Vice President has always insisted on due compliance with the enabling statutes and other established regulations.

 “Depending on the particular scope of activity in question, agencies may require management approval only, at the level of the director general or chief executive officer. In this category falls the great majority of their day-to-day activities.

 “However, other activities, or procurements, with value exceeding a certain threshold, require Board approval. These may get to the agency Board chaired by the Vice President. In a few cases where Presidential approval is required, the Director-General must seek such approval from the President, through the Vice President. These rules have always guided the activities of statutory agencies and the ones under the Vice President’s supervision have always been so guided. 

 “To claim that in the first term of the Buhari administration, agencies of government have not been complying with the provisions (of getting final approvals from the President) is false, and the attempt to suggest the vice president’s complicity in such irregularities is simply mischievous and reprehensible.

 “The effective and mutually respecting relationship between the President and the Vice President is well known to Nigerians and it is futile to insinuate otherwise.

 “Even though the vice president has a statutory role as board chairman of some government agencies under his office, with appropriate approval limits, which often do not include contract approvals; it is ludicrous to even insinuate that a board chairman approves contracts.

 “Evidently, the federal executive council, which oversees federal ministries and agencies of government, is chaired by the President, and it is in its purview to approve or ratify award of contracts within the prescribed threshold.

 “The vice president remains committed to the service of his fatherland and will continue to do so despite the purveyors of fake news. We urge media organizations, as gatekeepers, to uphold truth, balance, fairness and objectivity in their reports.”

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