Wike allegedly spends N4bn to renovate official residence instead of N150m

It has been revealed that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) plans to spend N4billion for the renovation of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike’s official residence instead of N150 million initially earmarked for it.

Appropriation documents showed that the renovation of the minister’s official residence at Life Camp, initially planned to be executed with N150 million through restricted tendering, was awarded by Wike to Julius Berger at the cost of N3,762,500,000 three months ago.

It was learnt that after the exit of the former Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello in May, those in charge of renovating the residence gave a cost of N150 million which was initially included in the Supplementary Budget proposal.

Sources in the office of the minister revealed that the figure was removed and awarded to Julius Berger on the instruction of Wike at the new cost. Wike was said to have given out the contract to Julius Berger hiding under the “Emergency Procurement” clause contained in the Procurement Act and directed payment of N2 billion mobilization fee.

The minister’s alleged irrational decision reportedly did not go down well with many top civil servants, who felt it was a waste of funds and a violation of procurement law, which specified contracts that fall under emergency procurement.

According to Section 43(1) of the Procurement Act, emergency procurement can only be carried out when the country is threatened or confronted with a war or natural disaster.

Some civil servants who spoke to newsmen, but on condition of anonymity, said there was no emergency in the renovation of the minister’s residence since there was no damage to the property. Renovation works on the residence of the minister, according to civil engineers, involve painting, piping works, electrical and furnishings.

The Appropriation documents for the renovation were part of Budget items in the FCT 2023 Supplementary Appropriation Bill sent to the National Assembly. But when the Upper chamber passed the Bill, the renovation of the minister’s residence was removed, while the cost was lumped together with others, under the title: “Renovation and Completion of Critical Infrastructure in the FCT”, with the total cost put at N13,762,500,000.

According to a legislative aide, the lawmakers could have done that to protect the minister due to the alleged unjustifiable jerking-up of the contract sum.

Observers have lamented that squander-mania seemed to have gripped the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) since the former Rivers State governor took office as minister.

Recall that on Wednesday, a coalition of over 10,000 indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and civil society groups called for the resignation of Wike as Minister of FCT, accusing him among others, of land grabbing and “misguided actions”.

When contacted, the FCTA was unable to respond to the allegations as of press time.

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