Prof. Linus Asuquo, Director General (D-G), National Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC) Jos, has said he followed due process in award and execution of contracts in the centre.
Asuquo was reacting to a petition signed by 54 members of staff of NMDC, accusing him of fraudulent activities at the centre, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Sunday, in Jos.
The members of staff, under the aegis of Concerned Staff of NMDC, accused the director general of embezzlement, misappropriation, diversion of public funds, gross violation of public service rules and shady reappointment.
In his reaction however, Asuquo said that there had never been one case where management awarded contracts without following the laid down procedures.
“The first process is the procurement planning committee. After that is appropriation, and finally advert. It is mandatory for these projects to be advertised.
“After that, we have tenders purchase, and tenders opening, and after that we have technical evaluation, by the technical committee.
“After the contracts are viewed by a board, the winners of the contracts are then awarded the contracts and there is no single time where I awarded any contract without following due process,” Asuquo maintained.
Also defending the allegation of awarding multiple contracts to a single contractor with different companies, Asuquo described the contractor as someone that ”is competent, who produces results, and he wins the contracts”.
According to him, the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had checked, and confirmed that there was no funny business in the award of the contracts, so the contracts had to be given.
Reacting to the allegation that no single research was conducted in his five-year tenure, Asuquo said that research could not be carried out because the centre was in disarray and all the equipment were obsolete when he assumed office.
“I brought in professionals to see how we could reactivate the equipment, and the report was that less than 20 per cent of the equipment were functional.
“So my efforts all this time were put into the reactivation of the equipment. So why would they accuse me now, when I am putting in efforts for real research to take place?
“If I were not interested in research, we wouldn’t have procured the scanning electron microscope, or the polishing machine. Things must be put in the right perspective before research commences.
“I applied to the World Bank, I pled my case and they inspected the centre, all this was done before the procurement of the electron microscope and the polishing machine.
“Very expensive state of the art machines, but the accessories have not been supplied, we have applied for those accessories to be supplied but it is a long process, which could take about 11 months,’’ he further explained.
The director general alleged that some of the people complaining about the lack of equipment were the ones sabotaging his efforts.
He claimed that while he was trying to fix the induction furnace, the saboteurs pilfered everything in the machines.
Asuquo claimed that most of the equipment he met were not functional, and now that he was trying to correct that, the staff were against their functionality.
The NMDC helmsman, who who was also accused of illegal reappointment of another tenure of five years after the expiration of his first tenure on July 12, said that there was nothing wrong with his reappointment.
The petitioners alleged that the D-G was quietly and illegally reappointed by the immediate past administration more than two months before the expiration of his tenure.
They wondered why the D-G himself issued a circular that his tenure had been renewed without the usual announcement by government officials saddled with such responsibility.
“The D-G/CE’s tenure renewal of additional five years should be denied and if already genuinely granted, he should immediately be sacked for lack of capacity and capability to pilot the affairs of this important agency.
“He has instead been sadly involved serially in corrupt practices for selfish and personal gain, to the detriment of Nigeria’s progress and national development.
”He will only perpetrate more of the infractions if allowed back at NMDC,” the petitioners alleged.
But Asuquo said: ”My first appointment was announced on TV, but I have an official appointment from the presidency, from the chief of staff, to my minister, because of my credible performance.
“I had a meeting with the board and my reappointment was discussed, so I was accused of a fake process, because my reappointment was not announced on TV. If I was not doing well, the reappointment would not be possible”.