*#6m paid for tractor’s transportation
*We don’t have required tractors in Kwara- SSA Job creation
*Kwara paid #10m to operators- MoU
* We offered KWSG our tractors at #16,000, waived operators and tractors repair charges as against #40,000 paid to outsiders -TOAN
By Abdulrasheed Akogun (Ilorin) and Godwin Irue (Abuja)
According to the proforma invoice submitted by MECA and Traxi, a copy of which was obtained by Fresh Insight showed that, both company was paid #3m each as the cost of transporting the tractors to Kwara state and back to base after use.
According to Fresh Insight’s discreet investigation through observation spanning 20 days it was discovered that the Ahmadu Bello Way Government House, Ilorin where the 50 tractors were deposited for onward distribution across the nooks and crannies of the State was never empty of tractors for a single day.
This therefore implies that not all the tractors were simultaneously deployed and used for the duration of the exercise.
On the first day of Fresh Insight’s visit, no fewer than 11 tractors were counted on the Government House open field, while it increased by 4 to give a total of 15 tractors on few days after, where tractors mechanics were also spotted repairing some of the packed tractors.
Fresh Insight 20 days observation showed that even though the government paid for the daily lease of the 50 tractors, not all the tractors were deployed for the exercise for the entire duration of the exercise.
Fresh Insight investigation showed that, at no time did all the tractors left the government house simultaneously at once.
It is expected that in the light of this discovery and judging from the fact that the lease fee was paid upfront, the companies should at the end of the exercise calculate a refund to be paid to the government coffers as related to the number of tractors used and numbers of days.
When confronted with the allegations of the contract not following due process and clearly contravening the Kwara State Procurement Law, 2018, the Senior Special Assistant, Job creation to the Governor who also doubles as the Chairman Taskforce of the Tractorisation committee, Barr. Aliyu Alhassan said “I am not competent to speak on the procurement process and the payment disparities between the two contractors, I think the Ministry of Agric will be the best place to get clarification as they were the awarding ministry, my job and that of my committee members is just to supervise the distribution of the tractors”, he stressed.
When challenged on the rationale behind hiring tractors from outside when we have same in the State, he said “MECA and Traxi are one of the leading companies in the Country when it comes to farm implement and mechanisation generally, so it was a good decision to settle for them. Moreover, we don’t have anybody in Kwara State with the capacity to supply us that volume of tractors”, he submitted.
However when our reporter put it to him that among others, we have Tractor Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOAN) with proven records of doing the job in the past he said “Government doesn’t patronise associations, we rather patronise well established and known companies”, he concluded.
Debunking the lack of capacity to supply tractors as alleged by the government, Chairman of TOAN, Alh. Abubakar Kudu, expressed disappointment, stressing that the SSA is like a son to him and therefore is in a better position to know the capability of tractors owners, stressing that “tractor owners in Edu and Pategi local government alone can supply more than 300 tractors within 48 hours”, he enthused.
Speaking further on efforts they made towards ensuring tractors were not brought from outside at exorbitant prices, he said “On the 5th May, myself, the Chief of Staff Alh. Adisa Logun (now late), a member of the Tractorisation committee Hajia Akaje, Barr. Alhassan (Chairman Tractorisation Taskforce) and Technical Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture Qowwiy Olododo met, and we assured him of our capability to supply rental of 100 moving and serviceable tractors.
“We showed records of working with government in the past and also records of our hiring out tractors to Niger state. Alh. Logun promised to get back to us in 48hrs, which he didn’t.
“We advised against daily pay, but hecterage to avoid cheating the farmer and state government. We charged the government #16,000 per hectare (which he claimed was negotiable), and also offer to take responsibility for operators fee, their feeding, tractors servicing among others”, he stressed.
However, Fresh Insight gathered that on May 21st, after a protest by the Kwara TOAN over exclusion, advertisement for tractors agent was published through an online application form — https://bit.ly/3cjJ4i3 which was completed via various government e-platforms.
Fresh Insight investigation however revealed that the advertisement was for tractor agents who will serve as the commercial intermediary between the government and the farmers and not advertisement for supply of tractors as proscribed by relevant procurement laws in the State.
A member of the tractorisation taskforce who spoke with Fresh Insight on condition of anonymity confided in our reporter that, “the lease arrangement was never envisioned to be supplied by the local owners here. I must say we were aware that we could get tractors here, we however were not ready to take chances.
“Therefore, we went after the leading and dependable brands in the business, even though some of us kicked against it, as we believed the required services could be sourced and rendered locally.
“With the latest revelation of the availability of more than enough tractors to meet the needs of our farmers, I’ll only advice the clause in the MoU which gives option of lease renewal for the next 2 years should be jettisoned in favour of the local tractor owners” the source advised.
On June 22nd, sensing the impending street protest under the banner of TOAN, the late CoS, Alh. Logun invited the tractors owners to a meeting which held in his office, where Barr. Aliyu Alhassan, Qowiyy Olododo and others were present.
The CoS reportedly apologized to the aggrieved tractor owners to be patient till next farming year, promising that the government will patronise them for the 2021 farming season.
To be continued…