By Yemi Adebowale
Immediate past governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola SAN has officially reacted to media reports detailing how the Lagos State Government under his watch as Governor, spent the sum of N78 million for the upgrade of the website – www.tundefashola.com. According to a budget report on the website of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, the contract was awarded to Info Access Plus Limited.
News about the scandal broke on Saturday with mixed reactions from Nigerians ranging from shock, disbelief, condemnation to outrage.
But Fashola, in an official reaction he personally signed and released on Thursday, used the opportunity of the website scandal to address what he described as “manipulated and unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing recently leveled against me.”
Reacting specifically to the issue of the N78 million website scandal, Fashola wrote: “As far as the website contract is concerned, yes there was a contract. It went through procurement and was approved by the Government agency authorized 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 for Research in Motion (Blackberry), which the existing website did not have, as well as the annual maintenance cost for managing the website. It was for 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, who are the Government adviser on ICT matters.”
Our attention is drawn to the twitter campaign alleging that the Lagos State Government (LASG), led by His Excellency, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN spent Seventy Eight Million Naira (N78M) to upgrade the www.tundefashola.com web site, a site dedicated to giving citizens unfettered access to the Governor’s daily activities and open access to information.
It is imperative to state here that, the website in question is not Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola’s personal website but an official website which reports and documents his official activities as a way of socially accounting for his stewardship to the people of Lagos State. This initiative of having an official website for the Governor was to build on the earlier commitment to open access which saw Governor Fashola being the first serving governor to publish his telephone number on the pages of newspapers.
As pressure mounted on that number, the website and all of its social media handles became alternative platforms for people to directly engage with their elected governor.
While we do not hold brief for the Lagos State Government, the selective loading of contracts awarded and executed by the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency is itself suspect and aimed at a pre-determined end. The statement of the Contract Line Item and the cost ascribed on the website of the agency are therefore misleading and mischievous.
For avoidance of doubt, we are by this medium therefore laying bare the facts for the public:
The former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, set out to streamline easy access to himself, while in office and to document his activities for the citizens.
From 2008 and up till May 29, 2015, the www.tundefashola.com web site has processed thousands of press releases/speeches, more than 6 million pictures, thousands of videos to generate world class, content-rich online information collaterals for the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN.
The same www.tundefashola.com web site provides great opportunities for the Lagos State Government, as it collates all activities of the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, and his government during his two terms.
- What Did LASG Get For the alleged “N78M”?
N12.5m was quoted for the upgrade of the www.tundefashola.com web site, which includes complete re-design of all the hundreds of page templates. Meanwhile, the LASG spent less than N10m on this and not N78M being bandied on the social around.
Info Access Plus Limited will provide free technical support for the entire life cycle of the web site.
Info Access Plus Limited will manage the contents of the site, which consist of press releases, speeches, photos, videos, etc for one year.
Info Access Plus Limited developed and managed the first and only web-based 1-year Countdown Clock to May 29, 2015 on a 24-hourly basis off the back of this same service cost for a period of 1 year from 2014 to May 29, 2015.
Info Access Plus Limited developed mobile apps for the top four platforms, namely Apple iOS, Google Play, Microsoft Windows Phone 8 and Blackberry World off the back of this same service cost.
Info Access Plus Limited will provide free technical support throughout the life cycles of all these mobile apps also off the back of this same service cost.
Going by Info Access Plus Ltd’s official account, all the “other services” listed by Fashola for N78 million were provided by Info Access Plus for N10 million. This leaves a balance of N68 million hanging somewhere.