Buhari’s Integrity: A Sophisticated Fiction, By Moses Ochonu

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Excerpts from a story in Newswatch, March 13, 2000 edition about how Buhari’s PTF was a cesspool of corruption and grand theft of public funds. Just to remind people that Buhari’s claim to integrity is a sophisticated fiction, a successful historic scam.

“The mysterious withdrawal of the money [N500 million] is one of the allegations levelled against the Buhari-led past administration of PTF by the IMC which seems to have put the four-year tenure of Buhari as the executive
chairman of PTF under intensive searchlight. Although Adamu insists that Buhari is not under probe, he said that a technical audit/verification exercise being carried out by the committee shows that a lot of ugly things had taken place under the acclaimed no-nonsense retired army general.

The committee is asking questions about several contracts worth N207 billion awarded by PTF under Buhari. It is also raising serious doubts over different payments totalling N135.59 billion made by the Fund for various projects, leaving a debt burden of more than N70 billion owed
numerous contractors, consultants, manufacturers, publishers and suppliers who are now waging a big war against the IMC-PTF.

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Some of the other unwholesome things dug up by the IMC include the “unholy” alliance that existed between the Buhari led PTF and Afri-Project Consortium, APC, a private consultancy company, which literally and exclusively ran the affairs of the fund, and the alleged over-inflation of contract sums such as the one involving the N650 million extension of the PTF headquarters in Abuja; IMC is also alledging serious contractual anomaly in the N800 million PTF staff housing estate; importation of expired drugs especially the N28 billion HIV/AIDS screening and confirmation kits as well as the mysterious disappearance of the N500 million.

The missing money, in fact, exposed the kind of “unholy” business relationship that existed between PTF of the Buhari era and APC led by late Salihijo Ahmad, a 42-year old businessman from Adamawa State. Newswatch learnt that the APC consultants virtually managed PTF. In
fact, a report prepared by the IMC showed that APC was really in charge, not Buhari.

It went further to say that “all documents (including the mandatory client’s copies) were in possession of Afri-Project Consortium, APC, who were appointed as the sole management consultants to PTF.” APC was also said to be responsible for the corporate development and recruitment of staff for PTF.

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The IMC report said that PTF in its operation was not functioning as a government agency in the real sense. “APC was actually the real PTF and yet it was a private company,” it lamented.

One area of the PTF-APC alliance that worried the Adamu-led committee was the fact that Buhari delegated his powers as executive chairman of PTF to the APC. The IMC also discovered that the “power of the engineer” which normally should reside with the client (PTF) was delegated to APC through a letter. “With this power of the engineer,
APC was able to award contracts and vary same without any reference to PTF,” the IMC report stated.

Newswatch gathered that PTF had about 620 consultancy firms reported to the APC, which had the sole responsibility for the issuance of certificates for payments by PTF. Indeed, too much power and responsibilities were said to have been given to the APC. Adamu told Newswatch that the situation created a scenario where proper procedures were not followed in the award of contracts. Some of the contracts, it was gathered, were inflated by more than 100 percent. In many cases, no bidding was taken. People were just given the contracts and contract sums slapped on unilaterally.”

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