November 27, 2020

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Reps deny indicting SDG over N26.9 billion COVID-19 contract

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By Tony Akowe, Abuja

The House of Representatives on Thursday denied querying the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, OSSAP-SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire over alleged award of N26.9bn contract for the procurement of materials following the Covid-19 pandemic contract since no funds was appropriated by the National Assembly.

House Committee on Sustainable Development headed by Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye said it is important to correct the narrative in the public to avoid misrepresentation of projects carried out by the agency in the past years.

A member of the Committee, Hon. Babatunde Humpe (APC, Lagos) who spoke to newsmen said there was no basis for querying OSSAP-SDGs over any irregularities in contract award or procurement of palliatives during the budget defence session as the presentation made by her contained detailed analysis of the projects implemented in the previous years, which is unusual of public officers.

He said “I think there is mischief in the report. Facts before us do not show that the SDGs Office participated in the procurement of palliatives neither were they queried for anything. As a matter of fact, members of the Committee believes that Princess Orelope-Adefulire led OSSAP-SDGs has performed creditably well, brilliantly and was well commended by the members of the committee.”

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Speaking on the issue of the non-implementation of special intervention projects, the lawmaker said the information before the Committee revealed that the SSAP-SDGs cannot be blamed as funds for the implementation were yet to be released to her office by the Ministry of Finance.

“You don’t expect the SSA to execute projects when funds are not released. The Committee could not have queried her when we knew that the finance needed for the execution of the projects is not available to her. In any way, most of the Ministries, Agencies and Departments of government are also having problems executing the capital component of the budgets because of the shortfall in government’s revenue.”

Also speaking, Hon Uju Kingsley said it is not possible for the agency to have spent 26billion without appropriation, saying “it is impossible for an agency to spend 26billion without appropriation by the National Assembly. We must set the record straight do as not to put the agency in the eye of the public”

Vice Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Zainab Gimba faulted the report insisting that the House has not found Princess Orelope-Adefulire wanting in the discharge of her assignments and advised against peddling of fake news against her or her office as was done twice earlier in the year.

She is of the opinion that someone, somewhere is probably disturbed by her outstanding performance and decided to malign her integrity by all means.