Corruption has been a persistent problem in Nigeria, and civil servants are often accused of using their positions of power to enrich themselves at the expense of the public. Dr. Joseph Ebigwai, a lecturer at the University of Calabar and the owner of Mifor Consult Nigeria Limited, is a prime example of this corruption.
According to documents obtained by SecretsReporters, Dr. Ebigwai was able to secure two contracts worth a total of ₦47,881,250.00 each from the Lagos state government. The contracts, which were titled “Engagement of a Consultant to Conduct Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Study of the Light Up Lagos Phase 1 Community Electricity Distribution Intervention,” were both awarded to Dr. Ebigwai’s company, Mifor Consult Nigeria Limited.
Shockingly, though the same contracts were approved on the same date, Thursday, March 31, 2022, the state procurement agency published the contract on different dates. While the first was published on the procurement portal on Thursday, June 16, 2022, the second was published just this year, Friday, March 24, 2023, giving rise to the question of why the publishing dates are almost a year apart.
What raises suspicions about Dr. Ebigwai’s conduct is that he is a civil servant, and it is against the law for civil servants in Nigeria to run private businesses other than farming. This violation of the Nigerian civil service code suggests that Dr. Ebigwai used his position as a lecturer to secure these contracts for his company, Mifor Consult Nigeria Limited.
Moreover, the ownership of Mifor Consult Nigeria Limited by Dr. Ebigwai raises questions about how he was able to accumulate the capital necessary to start the company in the first place. According to the Lagos State procurement portal, Mifor Consult Nigeria Limited’s asset range is between ₦50,000,001 to ₦100,000,000, which is a considerable sum for a civil servant in Nigeria.
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The fact that the procurement agency published the two contracts on different dates also raises eyebrows. While the first contract was published on the procurement portal on Thursday, June 16, 2022, the second contract was published just this year, Friday, March 24, 2023, almost a year apart from the first. This delay in publishing the contracts could suggest that there were irregularities in the procurement process.
Dr. Ebigwai’s conduct is not an isolated incident. Many civil servants in Nigeria are engaged in similar behavior, using their positions of power to enrich themselves at the expense of the public. The Nigerian government needs to take more aggressive action to combat corruption in the civil service.
As presidential handing over approaches, it is imperative that the next administration takes a hard look at the Nigerian civil service and does everything in its power to root out corruption. This will require a thorough cleansing of the civil service, including the establishment of independent agencies to investigate allegations of corruption and the implementation of stricter penalties for civil servants who engage in corrupt behavior.