The Explainer: Understanding why SGF Babachir Lawal must go

by Roqeebah Olaoniye

The most talked about person in the land today is easily Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal. With the recommendation of some Senators yesterday asking that the SGF be suspended and prosecuted for his involvement in the contract scandal relating to the Internally Displaced Persons, the suspicions that many Nigerians have about corruption in the Buhari-administration seem to have been confirmed.

The Contract

A company linked to Mr. Babachir, Rholavision Limited, is one of the companies that was indicted by the Shehu Sani-led committee for allegedly benefiting from phantom, inflated and or even unexecuted contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East.

What is PINE ?

The Presidential Initiative for the North East is one of the Federal Government’s response to the problems plaguing the North East as a result of Boko Haram insurgency. It’s 2015-2020 long term goals boast of initiatives, strategies and implementation frameworks for the economic reconstruction and redevelopment of the North East. The plan in a nutshell, is to restore the North-East to its pre-Boko Haram status as a ‘bastion of commerce and trade’.

It is no surprise that the Initiative awarded a number of contracts in relation to maintenance of the welfare of Internally Displaced Persons.

One such contract was that awarded to Rholavision Limited clear ‘invasive plant specie’ in Yobe State. The contract is said to have been to the tune of NGN 200 million.

Now, here are a few things to hold on to …

Global Visions Limited was incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission in 1990 to carry out Information Communications Technology services.

This in itself is not out of line considering Mr. Babachir’s educational background in engineering and his long term career with Delta Steel Company and the Nigerian External Telecommunications Limited as a senior engineer before he established this his ICT firm.

What is out of line is an ICT company being awarded a contract to clear ‘invasive plant specie’ or grass, if you please. Even worse when that company is being alleged of not having executed the contract.

But all of these do not still indict Mr Babachir, no?

Not yet. Until you become acquainted with the Code of Conduct in the fifth schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.”

What is more of a textbook definition of conflict of interest than the Secretary to Government of the Federation been awarded a contract under his own government’s initiative?

The ad hoc committee of the Senate led by Senator Shehu found that at the time of awarding the contract in March 2016, Mr. Lawal was still the director of Global Vision and even though he resigned in September, the SGF remains the signatory to the company’s account.

A combination of all these factors place Mr. Babachir Lawal in an obviously unflattering position and to think that the Senate found that the contract was not even performed!






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