For alleging them of embezzlement, the Olubadan Palace Committee members, who served between 2014 and 2017, have asked former governor Abiola Ajimobi, to at least apologise to them, in written form.
Ajimobi, OYOINSIGHT.COM recalls, had been quoted, at an event which held on October 1st, 2019, as saying that “During my tenure, we raised N240 million to build an ultra-modern palace for the Olubadan, but it was unfortunate the project is yet to be completed…”
In a letter dated October 29, 2019 and exclusively obtained by this newspaper, the committee members said they felt maligned, blackmailed and their integrity was questioned.
Rather than apologize, the former governor who said he didn’t attempt to malign the integrity of members of the committee, accused them of unilaterally changing the architectural design of the new palace.
The committee members include Chief Bayo Oyero and Chief Wole Akinwande as chairman and vice-chairman respectively while members are Oba Abiodun Kola Daisi, Alhaji Oladiti Oladayo, Dr. Lasisi Balogun, Chief Onadapo Ajibola, Alhaji Kola Adetona, Alhaji Adesina Liadi, Alhaji R.S. Oyebamiji, Mr. Remi Popoola, Mr. Seye Ogunsina, Mrs. Labake Lawal and Alhaji Ayobami Ayinla.
Titled, your claim that members of the Olubadan palace committee embezzled palace fund and addressed to the former governor’s Oluyole residence, they disclosed that it was Ajimobi who nominated the contractor, Messrs Charvet (Nig.) Ltd., who eventually won the contract for the construction of the palace.
“We members of the Olubadan Palace Committee felt appalled at your speech at the ceremony of the inauguration of the new Executive of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes, CCII, at Ibadan House, on 1st of October, 2019. Since many of the commitee members were not at the ceremony, and since we did not want to listen to hear-say, we had to strive to obtain a full recording of the entire event. We have the disc. There in, it was seen that you were cocksure that the money for the construction of the palace had certainly been embezzled, and that was why the palace construction had not been completed. You were so emphatic that you repeated your claim three times.
“In the same breath, you claimed that you raised a sum of N240m for the construction of the palace. This was not true. You were addressing a gathering of about 700 people which included the Olubadan of Ibadan, the Alaafin, the Eleruwa, other Obas in Ibadanland as well as the array of other important dignitaries. Those were clearly manifest when we viewed the full recording of the event.
“Your Excellency, we like to refresh your mind with a few undeniable facts; when the palace committee was constituted, the committee, through its chairman, Chief Bayo Oyero, approached you, advising that the state government should be represented. You gladly nominated the then director of chieftaincy matters, Mr. Akano, to represent the government. The committee went further to make him one of the signatories to the bank accounts.
“When the bids for the contruction contract were ready, the committee, through the chairman, again approached you. To nominate a qualified civil engineering consultant to work on the bids. Hitherto, the consultants we had were those nominated by the Olubadan Advisory Council headed by Arc. B.A Sodeinde. We wanted a second opinion. You nominated Messrs Reyog International (Nig,) Ltd. of Engr, Remi Osiberu, who also brought along an experienced quantity surveyor. His team prepared the bill of quantities.
“When the bid was ready and it was time to invite selected contractors, you nominated for us a contractor – Messrs Charvet (Nig,) Ltd., who eventually won the contract. Our chairman was briefing you regularly on the project,” they explained further.
On Ajimobi’s claim that he raised N240m, they said there was need to correct the impression.
According to the committee, a sum of N175 million, and not N240 million, was realised through the former governor. They said Ajimobi personally donated N20 million, the state government N25 million, the 11 local government areas donated N55 million while Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was the chief launcher and chairman on the ocasion donated N50 million and N25 million respectively.
They added that “the consultant you nominated for us processed and submitted bids and on his recommendation, the contract was awarded to Messrs Charvet at a cost of N400 million after painstaking negotiation and professional advise from the consultant you nominated for us. We must say that the consultant, Engr. Remi Osiberu, did a thorough job with high level of professionalism.”
This is just as they told Ajimobi who doubles as the Aare Atunluse of Ibadanland and Aare of Ibadanland, that they would not have involved him in viirtually all the stages if they had wanted embezzle, adding that if Ajimobi thinks the project was overpriced, “it must be put squarely at the door of the consultant you gave us. But we believed in his integrity and professionalism.”
“The contract was awarded for N400 million. The total donations – cash and pledges – from the launching was N241 million. Some pledges were not redeemed leaving a sum of N234 million for the execution of the project. Out of this amount, a sum of N219.3 million was actually spent leaving the sum of N14 million in the project account. Even if the total donations and pledges of N241 million were realised, could it have completed the project?”
Saying that Ajimobi might have made the statement on the spur of the moment, the committee members said that “the least we demand is a written apology. Even though, you have impugned our integrity in public and before a large crowd of not less than 700 people, carried on some electronic media and giving your status in the society which would lend credence to your pronouncement, the least we can ask for is an apology in writing.”