By Miracle Enuji
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has finally reacted to a trending story which alleged that the contract for the construction of the multi-billion naira State Secretariat Building was awarded to himself through a clandestine agreement with the Chinese firm handling the project.
Okowa who was confronted with the question on the true state of the ownership of the contract during the first session of the quarterly media interaction with journalists in the state held on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, denied being the awardee of the contract and owner of the Chinese construction firm handling the project.
In his words; “In the first instance, I don’t know how many of us that have been to that new secretariat that is being built? I’m sure you are proud of what that is going on there. If Doctor Okowa had the competence to own a company to build that kind of house that is being built, I would have been very proud of myself.
“The company is not hidden, it is a Chinese Company and those who went with us there, saw the Chinese who were there, but one thing I must thank them for is that, out of the over 160 people who are working in that project, only 11 of them were brought from China, the other 150 were Nigerians working on that site and the level of work and organization, the quality of the work is something we must be proud of.
Continuing, Okowa said, “If you get there and you find out that I have that kind of company; probably I am part of the Chinese government, but actually is a Chinese owned firm, possibly I am part of the Chinese hierarchy now, that means I must be a very big man and Deltans should be proud of me. If I have that level of connection in China, then I am sure that I would have been able to do much more for Deltans. I wish I could but I am not.”
Secretariat Project and 2019
Furthermore, while responding to a similar question on his sincerity to the total execution of the project way after the end of his first term come May 29, 2019, the Governor expressed confidence that he will complete the project, prophesying that he will be returning as governor of the state come 2019.
“I know that I am coming back; I will be coming back with my deputy by the special grace of God. But in that case, by God’s grace, before the end of this first tenure, the project will have been almost completed. That is the truth. If you watch the way that they are going, they are right on course. There will be no question of the project being abandoned, that will not happen.” Okowa assured.
However, it will be recalled that recently, a section of the media was awash with allegations that the contract for the construction of the State Secretariat Complex being handled by North China Construction Company is a proxy for the cronies of Governor Okowa to launder money in order to build a huge war-chest towards the 2019 election.
It was also alleged that, contrary to the Public Procurement Law, the award of the N13 billion secretariat did not follow due process as North China Construction Company was given the contract without any competitive bidding.
Also gathered was that the company is not a foreign company like the name suggests, but a solely Nigerian owned company registered as North China Construction Nigeria Limited with the Corporate Affairs Commission (RC 1113315), managed by one Osadebe Osakwe, a former Manager in Zenith Bank who allegedly bankrolled Okowa’s 2015 election victory. The contract to his company is allegedly a way of the governor to fulfill a political IOU while Osakwe also helps in sponsoring the 2019 election.
Competent sources revealed that the Governor’s sister, Ivana Shenton is actually the front for the construction company and that she brought the company and used Osadebe who was already known to the Governor to act as an Engineer whereas he is just a banker.
Since the construction work began, it has been filled with nepotism as all the jobs are awarded and allocated only to Okowa’s relative. The source informed.