By Sunday Oguntuyi, Osogbo
The Senator, representing Osun West senatorial district, Aderele Oriolowo has described as fake news, report that he spent a paltry sum N2.5 million out of the N40 million allocated to his constituency project in the 2020 budget.
Oriolowo while debunking the media reports in some national dailies, said he was not 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 realization 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 remains with the implementating agency and the consultant hired to execute the project.
An independent project monitoring organisation trackaNG had on its Twitter handle faulted what it refered to as the claims by Senator Oriolowo on the expenditure of the 2020 constituency projects.
To this 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 jot 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, the senator stated that besides, budget implementations are usually done in phases, moreso with the impact of this Covid 19 pandemic which has tightened budgeting and expenditures globally, the agency may 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 into phases to avoid over crowing at a time.
“Secondly, It is a 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 received N100 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 participants.
“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 querried
“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.