Fraudulent procurement practices have become the bane of governance in recent times. Neglect of due process, price padding and abuse of the procurement acts are preponderant in daily procurement of goods and services among states.
Owing to the forthcoming general elections in 2023 and the pace seemingly set by the yet to be inaugurated government of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, opinions are rife as to the minimal standard of governance expected, especially, by the south east leaders.
Latent and manifest qualities no doubt abounds but equally important is the credibility of leaders in procuring goods and services . Of course that is the drain pipe through which funds are siphoned .
Statistics has shown that so much funds are embezzled through a blatant,albeit deliberate, disregard to procurement rules .As a result, values of goods and services are falsified giving room for a mindless increase of the overhead and capital costs.
These common abuse of power and procedures came to the fore recently when the MD of Innoson Motors Chief Chukwuma commended the former Commissioner of Finance of Abia State Chief Obinna Oriaku for his forthrightness in procurement of vehicles from his company while he called the shots as the Finance Commissioner in Abia state.
According to Innoson Motors Chief, Abia state procured vehicles worth millions through Oriaku without him ( Oriaku) asking for any form of gratification or encouraged padding of invoice. Although he had alluded to this in the most informal way,at his Nnewi home, during an interaction with couple of friends that came to condole with him on the death of his mother Mama Martina Chukwuma who will be buried on 25th of Feb 2022 , however, some of those present ,including myself, picked up the message of integrity and honesty of public office holders evident in the dispositions of Oriaku,as an agenda worth setting for aspiring public office holders. The testimony of Chief Chukwuma about Obinna Oriaku was also instructive as it added credence to some stories I have heard and read about the same Oriaku and all he brought to bear as the Commissioner of Finance in Abia state from 2015 to 2019.
For instance, the civil service reforms where he canceled the highly fraudulent analogue payment system that encouraged fraud for a more synchronized automated payment structure. Other cost control mechanisms that he put in place like the closure of the 19 sub treasuries for manual payment of pensions,The biometric/centralization of the state salary payment system saved about N600m from the wage bill , the reduction of the monthly FAAC travel allowance to Abuja , beneficial to the Commissioner himself drastically from whooping N1.6m monthly to N500.000 Naira.
Stories has it that part of Obinna’ s problem with the powers that be resulted from his insistence to procure 32 pieces of Pajero SUV at the cost of N16m from Vision cars ltd Lagos against the quoted price of N24million naira each, thereby saving about N258m naira for the government. He replicated the same cost cutting measures with the state legislators as they procured about 14 units of 2018 Hilux at the company(Vision cars Ltd ) price of N16million naira against the quoted price of N22million naira per unit in the open market .
Therefore, as the race towards 2023 gathers momentum, certain qualities are a must- have for- a-would- be contestant of the governorship seat in Abia state or any other state in the south east,one of such should be his track record especially in the adherence of due process. Another is his integrity quotient.
Because Abia has had it’s unfair share of mal- administration occasioned by mediocre leadership and consumptive tendencies of some stakeholders, who sees governance as ” come shop” instead of building legacies, it is therefore expedient that candidates for governorship seats should be duly interrogated and cleared in line with the values they advance especially in their PAST offices other than because of who their godfather’s are.
In Anambra an obvious wind of change is blowing and it’s really hot hence all other Igbo states are encouraged to queue behind in order to harvest the expected transformations that the Soludo team has inadvertently triggered .
We will rather get it right now or forever remain in servitude to those that have held us bondage.Thus honesty and integrity are key offerings that must be looked out for in any contestant for the seat of a Governor come 2023, and that can be ascertained through due diligence of the fellows antecedent .
There is this wise saying ” Never brag about humility until you are blessed with wealth ” Oriaku can brag about honesty as we have many stories to reinforce our belief in him.
With the likes of Obinna Oriaku in the saddle, Abia is sure of total redemption from the past as we can now predict what the future holds for us Abians.
Mr Division kalu is a public commentator based in Nnewi Anambra state.