Senator Oriolowo denies spending N40m constituency project

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By Richard Akintade, Osogbo

Senator Aderele Oriolowo representing Osun West senatorial district, has repudiated a published report that he spent paltry N2.5m out of the N40m allocated to his constituency project in the 2020 budget.

Oriolowo, while debunking the reports in some national dailies, said he was never involved in the execution of the N40million Zonal Intervention Programme for practical skill
development and training of youths and women in fishing recently conducted in selected areas of Osun West Senatorial District in Osun State.

According to him, the only role he played in the realisation of the project was to facilitate the inclusion of the project in the 2020 budget to benefit members of his constituency.

The senator said the burden of proof or otherwise of the expenditure remained with the implementation agency and the consultant hired to execute the project.

An independent project monitoring organisation trackaNG had on its Twitter handle faulted what it referred to as the claims by Senator Aderele Oriolowo on the expenditure of the 2020
constituency projects.

In a riposte, Oriolowo said he never spoke with any media organisation where he made such claims as alleged.

Oriolowo maintained he never participated in the process of engaging the consultant nor organizing and executing the project, wondering how he should be the target of the report.

His words: “To the issue raised on the report that the independent monitor organisation faulted a claim by me, I did not make any claim on this issue.

“Nobody contacted me to ask me in the finances of this project, I did not grant any press interview on the finances of the project. I couldn’t have because firstly, projects are just domiciled in any legislator’s office, I mean the budget and its
implementation.

“We, as legislators, are not saddled with it; we are just facilitators of projects.

“This project is anchored in an agency, specifically, Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research Institute in Lagos.

“All I needed to know was when the project was approved for implementation; they came to me to gather my constituents for training and that I did,” Orolowo said.

Explaining further he stated that besides, budget
implementations were usually done in phases, more so with the impact of this COVID-19 pandemic, which has tightened budgeting and expenditures globally, the agency might not have been fully funded and it was too early for the media to conclude that the allocation for the project was not optimally expended.

“I reliably gathered from the agency that the projects are being done in stages because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have to break the participants intophases to avoid over crowing at a time.

“Secondly, it is common Knowledge that with the state of the country now, not one hundred percent of project budgets are being released from the agencies, which I know could be the same for that agency; they might have not received100 percent of the budget.”

He said the independent monitor group should have investigated this before their tweet.

He also faulted the basis on which the organisation arrived at the total expenditure of N2.5m using only the N50,000 per participant as start-up grant as the cost of the Zonal Intervention Programme for Osun West senatorial district.

He wondered why the fact-finding agency did not verify associated cost of the programme and relied only on the start- up grant of N50,000 to each participant.

“You want to see the component of the work given to the consultant; is it only N50,000 stipend given to the participants? what about the cost of the hall used, course materials, training equipment and the materials assembled, logistics, are the facilitators budget included in the N2.5millon tweet? He queried.

“We need to see the break down of the bill of quantity given to the consultant before we can ascertain what percentage of the job they were given and how well or otherwise they have performed, as am speaking to you now, I have not seen it.

“Of course, I do not need it because the burden of accountability lies with the agency handling the project not me,” he submitted.

He said his only interest was to ensure that the project he has powered for his constituents reaches them as all other lawmakers would for their constituents.

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