In a letter circulated to all the Sole Administrators, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs instructed each of the 57 council and local council development authorities to transfer N1 million to the Ministry.
Local government council sole administrators in Lagos State have cried out to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to save them from the State Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Mr. Musiliu Folami, over his attempt to deduct the sum of N57 million for a fictitious consultancy contract from their August allocations.
In a letter [see below] circulated to all the sole administrators, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs instructed each of the 57 council and local council development authorities to transfer N1 million to the Ministry. Signed by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Paul Tunde Oluwabiyi, on the instruction of the commissioner, the letter, dated 2 September, stated that the purpose of the money was to pay for publicity consultancy between May and August 2016 by HOA Ventures on Television Continental (TVC).
Many of the sole administrators, especially from the disadvantaged local government areas, expressed surprise at the request, as they were unaware that such an amount was committed, on their behalf, by the ministry for publicity by a company totally unknown to them.
They consider the demand as insensitive and extortionate, given their belief that Mr. Folami must be aware of the challenges the councils are facing in meeting their obligations to their staff and the expectations of their communities during the current inclement economic climate.
Unofficial sources at TVC disclosed to SaharaReporters that the station did not enter into such a contractual agreement with HOA Ventures nor was any program specifically produced for the alleged publicity firm on behalf of the local councils.
The sole administrators, SaharaReporters learnt, have been seeking ways to bring the fraud to the attention of Governor Akinwuni Ambode, who is said to be averse to Mr. Folami’s frequent fiddling with council allocations.
Mr. Ambode, a former Accountant-General for Local Governments in Lagos State, began striving shortly after assuming office last year to seal all holes being used by the Local Government Ministry officials to corner resources allocated to councils. Part of his efforts was the halting of all deductions from the source, leading to the creation of a new system through which contractors are paid directly by local councils. This measure, many reckoned, has reduced the financial hemorrhage suffered by the councils in the hands of Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs officials.
The sole administrators have decided to send an S.O.S. message to Mr. Amobode, requesting that he intervene before they are bled to death by Mr. Folami. This is being done in the face of persistent pressure by ministry officials on the sole administrators to comply with Mr. Folami’s orders.