Corruption Allegation: Fashola breaks silence

Babatunde Fashola

After weeks of silence on a number of allegations that have been making the rounds since he stepped down as governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola on Thursday decided to set the records straight, including denying the claim that he had fathered a child outside wedlock and described the allegation as “wicked and false”.

In a statement he personally signed, he took a quote from Irish author and playwright George Bernard Shaw: “When you wrestle with a pig, the pig gets happy and you get dirty”, explaining that the statement of profound wisdom informed his silence in the wake of manipulated and unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing levelled against him.

He said these ranged from allegations of extra marital paternity of children, to mundane and phantom conspiracy in the National Assembly, the debt profile of Lagos State, and lately a website upgrade contract of N78 million, which he pointed out has been distorted.

On the allegation of extra marital paternity, the former Lagos governor said:
“They are wicked and false. I have no biological children other than my two children.

“Of course, I adopted three children who became orphaned as a result of the tragic Dana airplane crash of 2012 and the adoption followed due process.

“Those who do not care whether they hurt innocent children or invade the privacy of other citizens in their mindless rage against me will have their rewards served upon them in the fullness of time.”

On his purported involvement in the National Assembly elections which threw up Bukola Saraki as Senate President, Ike Eweremadu as his deputy, Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the Hosue of Representatives and Yusuf Lasun as his deputy, Fashola dismissed them as the product of the imagination of those who made the allegation.

He said: “I was out of the country (in Germany for the G7 summit) at the material time and returned only in the early hours of that morning to Abuja, and from there proceeded to Lagos.”

He also addressed the mounting criticism on the state’s debts under his administration, stating: “The fact is that Lagos has always had debts. Her population is growing and for a long time she has run deficit budgets to cater to the needs of that growing population.”

He clarified that all the debts contracted during his tenure were approved by the parliament in the annual budgets, “some have been paid back and the financial status was healthy and stable when I left”.

Fashola added that the outlook for Lagos State and rating by Fitch was long-term foreign and local currency IDRs at “BB-”, short-term IDR at “B” and national long-term rating at “AA+(nga)”.

“When we pause to reflect and think, we realise that there are many a sizeable number of companies that are running businesses which have no responsibility for security, public health, public education and other responsibilities of government, which borrow more than the Lagos State Government, whether collectively or individually,” he said.

As far as the website contract is concerned, Fashola acknowledged that there was a contract, adding however, that it went through the procurement process and was approved by the government agency authorised to do so.

“One of the services was an upgrade quoted for N12.5 million but awarded for N12 million. There were other services that were new; like a handover countdown clock, mobile Apps for Google, for IOS and iPad, for Microsoft and Research in Motion (Blackberry), which the existing website did not have, as well as the annual maintenance cost for managing the website.

“It was all these services that the contract was issued for N78 million, which the Lagos State procurement agency gave a No Objection based on the advice of the Ministry of Science and Technology, which is the government adviser on ICT matters.

“In publishing this contract award, which was the government tradition under my watch, the procurement agency’s website summarised it as an ‘upgrade’ without detailing the other services and this has been distorted by the agents of hate as their suspected ‘smoking gun’.

“For those who are familiar with mobile applications, they will attest that the users either pay for them online or download them for free. What is usual is that applications for service are usually provided to users free, but somebody bears the cost.

“Since these applications were to be made available to the public for free access and to assist government communication, we decided to pay for them,” he explained.

The former governor stressed that the entire documentation with respect to the contract for the website was with the Lagos State Government and available for those who want to know the truth.

He expressed regret that a summary of the contract was deliberately distorted to misinform the public, adding: “This particular website came into being as a result of the decision I made to make my telephone number public for the several thousands of people seeking to reach me daily.”

He maintained that the website helped with his job as governor and facilitated his responsiveness to citizens, adding that the contract was issued to run till his last day in office.

“It stands logic upside down for me to fraudulently award a contract and then have it published on a website. To date, there have been 27.666 million hits on this website, with 1,844 videos, 34,381 photographs, 2,531 press releases and 595 speeches, and other items of public communication,” he said.

Fashola said he chose to respond personally to the allegation on the website, because as the head of government at the time of the transaction, the buck stopped with him, and because of the many calls, text messages and mails he had received seeking clarification.

The former governor added that he did it “to prevent fiction from being mistaken for truth”.

Fahsola said he was expecting many more distorted allegations without evidence to be made public, as he had been reliably informed that large amounts were being paid to agents he failed to name to spread a campaign of calumny against him.

He concluded by taking a swipe at the crusade by a civil society group, CACOL (Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders) “and their ilk”, who he said was seeking his prosecution on allegations for which had no proof and had written a “pre-emptive” letter to the president.

He said he was not looking for a job and reminded them that allegations of wrongdoing are not resolved without evidence, “neither are they resolved in press conferences”.

Fashola said he had served Lagos State, and by extension, Nigeria for 12 and a half years and did so with his heart.

He said he was taking a well-deserved rest that he had earned.
He signed off by stating: “For those who still wish to remain in the mud, they should look in the mirror. For those who wish to throw mud at me, they should look at their own hands,” adding, “As for me, I have moved on. My job is done.” is your one-stop online news magazine blog. We report credible information as they happen. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get Latest Information.

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