Ex-minister denies diverting N300m for medical equipment
Former Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has denied diverting the N300 million meant for medical equipment in Zamfara State to Enugu State.
All Progressives Congress (APC) senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabiru Marafa, had last Tuesday accused the former minister of conniving with the then permanent secretary in his ministry to divert the fund meant for the procurement of equipment for the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Gusau, to Enugu, his home state, to procure mosquito nets.
Chukwu, in a statement by his former Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dan Nwomeh, explained that based on the Public Procurement Act of 2007, parastatals and agencies awarded contracts within their approval thresholds. But where the contract value was above the limit set for them, they were duty-bound to send it to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) through the Ministerial Tenders Board.
The former minister stressed that the permanent secretary chaired the tenders’ board, of which the minister was not a member, adding that with the approval of the contract by the board, the ministry did not have any further role to play in the entire process.
He explained that with the ministry’s role concluded, the implementing agency was expected to write to the minister of special duties and inter-governmental affairs requesting for payment.
If the minister of special duties and inter-governmental affairs is satisfied with the due process and quality of job, he will write to the ministry of finance requesting the release of funds to the implementing agency, in this case the FMC, Gusau, he added.
Giving insight into what actually transpired, Chukwu recalled how the director-general of the budget office wrote to the ministry of health in December 2013, quoting a letter earlier written to him by Senator Marafa where he alleged that the ministry had refused to release the said fund.
Chukwu said he promptly minuted the letter to the permanent secretary and the director of finance and accounts who stated that there was no such fund with the ministry, while producing the schedule of approved projects and funds released from the office of the accountant general of the federation as evidence.
He said that he consequently wrote back to the DG of budget office in March 2014, apprising him of the situation.