In what critics has described as desperate quest to raise funds for the 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar’s Peoples Democratic Party running mate, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has secured a sum of Seven Hundred and Seventy Four Million Naira (N774,000,000) belonging to Deltans in the name of refunding North China Construction Company, the contracting company that handled the construction of the State’s new Secretariat named after Asagba of Asaba, Obi Prof. Chike Edozien.
The Secretariat which was initially due for completion in 2020 was finally inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in December 2021.
The project, which cost Deltans about N17 billion, was started in 2017 with the furnishing done by Lifemate Furniture Limited for slightly more than N1.7 billion, and the provision of computers and internet network for less than N800 million, among other expenditures on various items.
The structure has eight floors and is built on 3.88 hectares (38,800 square meters) with a building area of 45,000 square meters.
Even though the secretariat was built either directly or through loans with the issuing of an ISPO (Irrevocable Standing Payment Order) over a five-year period beginning in 2017, after construction work began in November of that year, it’s unfathomable that the governor would demand more money while the loans are still heavily on Deltans’ shoulders as reported in the media.
This is concerning, because the contractors also had some part financing arranged through an ISPO to be completed in February 2023.
In announcing the N774 million in an audio exclusively obtained by SecretReporters, Okowa’s Chief Press Secretary, Olise Ifeajika, claimed that the payment was approved by the EXCO during the last State Executive Council meeting on July 19th. However, our sources in the EXCO revealed that almost all of the Commissioners in attendance began to murmur and grumble during the reading, but none had the courage to challenge the governor that it was wrong to request such a large sum of money months after a project had been completed and commissioned.
SecretReporters learned that the money was approved solely by Okowa, contrary to the CPS’s secret reading of the briefing and the claim that the payment was approved by the EXCO as a 50/50 share of extra costs incurred by the North China Construction Company.