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Thursday, 26 October 2017

Ngige Under Fire For 'Misleading' Osinbajo on 2nd Niger Bridge

... What I told the VP was N2bn, not $2bn – Minister

Top Presidency officials are blaming the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, for mislead­ing Vice President Yemi Osinba­jo at the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship rally in Anambra State where the latter claimed that Federal Government provided $2 billion to complete the Second Niger Bridge.

In a swift reaction, Ngige ab­solved himself of culpability in the faux pas, saying he clearly told the Vice President that N2 billion was released to the contractor to “remobilise to site,” and did not know how the figure changed to $2 billion.

Osibanjo had at the ceremony aimed at rallying support for the APC governorship candidate, Dr. Tony Nwoye, described the pur­ported release of the $2 billion from the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) as an indication that the party was fulfilling its campaign promises. This declaration was greeted with a thunderous applause.

Five days after the rally, The AU­THORITY newspaper exclusively questioned the Vice President’s claim that $2 billion was released for the project which could not have cost more than $35 million.

And a few hours after The AU­THORITY’s report, Osinbajo’s spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, issued a statement that the Vice President “inadvertently” men­tioned $2 million instead of N2 billion at the governorship rally which was beamed live.

Entitled “Setting the record straight: Second Niger Bridge: N2bn, $2bn,” Akande said the “a short video clip from the event captured on the news channel quoted Prof. Osinbajo as mentioning $2billion and not N2bil­lion, which was what he had actu­ally meant to say, mentioning the dollar currency was inadvertent.”

But Presidency sources told The AUTHORITY that they had al­ways suspected that Ngige chose the heat of the campaign to de­liberately mislead the Vice Presi­dent into saying things that would haunt APC at the November 18 election.

The officials said that they be­lieved that Ngige might not be comfortable with Nwoye becom­ing governor, as that would natu­rally displace him (Ngige) as the APC Leader in Anambra State.

“What Ngige did clearly is an en­emy action. We were at the podi­um, and whilst the Vice President was speaking, he whispered that he should add that President Buhari released $2 billion two days earlier.

“We know how he sabotaged APC in the last presidential elec­tion in Anambra State. We were surprised that he was rewarded with a ministerial portfolio. How­ever, like a leopard whose spots never change, this minister is do­ing all he can to make sure Nwoye’s campaign comes to naught,” one of the sources lamented.

Another Presidency official said: “Considering that the Second Ni­ger Bridge is an issue close to the heart of most South Easterners, it would have paid off to leave the matter alone. The way the VP announced $2 billion and then sev­eral days later changed it to N2 bil­lion, leaves a very sour taste in the mouth.

“What we succeeded in doing was to portray ourselves as a par­ty of liars, no thanks to Ngige who is neither Minister of Finance nor Minister of Budget and Planning, to know when monies are released to contractors,” he said.

Commenting on the controver­sy, the Secretary-General of the Coalition for New Nigeria (CNN) and National Chairman of the United Democratic Party (UPP), Barr. Godson Okoye, said that the Presidency was yet to tell Ni­gerians the actual cost of the pro­ject that warranted the payment of N2 billion.

“How much has been paid out to the contractors? For a project of N108 billion, we deserve to know how much has been paid, and what the value of N2 billion is in such an ongoing project to which various sums of money were said to have been paid,” he declared.

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