We’re verifying outstanding contracts, FMARD tells contractors
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said that it is in the process of compiling and verifying all outstanding contract liabilities in its record.
Contractors, who claimed to have executed jobs for the Ministry, had on Wednesday picketed the ministry’s Abuja head office to demand payment of monies owed to them.
The picketers had blocked the main entrance to the Ministry’s headquarters alleging to have been sidelined after delivering their jobs since 2018.
But in a statement FMARD’s Director of Information, Theodore Ogaziechi, prayed for the patience of the contractors, pointing out that the liabilities were “inherited”.
He said: “On behalf of the Agric Ministry, I would like to state that the Ministry is not unmindful of the outstanding liabilities owed to contractors, and to also affirm that the Hon. Ministers, the Permanent Secretary and the Management Team share in the agony of the contractors which has informed their agitation.
Ogaziechi noted the Ministers and Permanent Secretary inherited these liabilities and are in the process of compiling and verifying all outstanding contract liabilities with a view to facilitate their payment.
He said: “While this process is on-going, the Ministry is appealing for the patience, understanding and cooperation of the contractors to enable her complete this process and forward the outcome to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning for further action.”
Relatedly, a leaked government Memo from the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Folasade Yemi-Esan, dated May 11, 2020, had raised concerns of allegations of financial misconduct against the former permanent secretary of FMARD, Dr. Mohammed Umar Bello.
Yemi-Esan, in the memo, queried Bello over financial transactions he was said to have overseen during his time at the agriculture ministry.
The query partly alleged that the ministry under Bello’s watch used N3 billion “for the payment of questionable contracts awarded under the 2018 appropriation from the rural grazing area settlement scheme which is not related to the purpose of the funds.”
Additionally, it questioned the fact that despite the budgetary release of N98 billion in 2018 (which represents 99.44% of that year’s appropriation), Bello did not take necessary action to pay the eligible contractors which led to the ministry having an outstanding contractual liability in the sum of N48.429,543,895.722.
The query further indicated that under Bello’s leadership, the ministry utilised the entire 2019 first quarter release of N8 billion to pay for the 2018 contracts which, it pointed out, had been fully funded in 2018. ”
In his response to Yemi-Esan dated May 14th, Bello who currently serves as Federal Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Technology, insisted that the contractors were duly paid.
“The allegation of contractors not being paid is totally false. All contractors whose contract was captured in the 2018 budgetary allocation were paid in accordance to budgetary releases,” Bello noted.