Date Published: 05/15/11
Minister's Wife in N3.2 Billion Contract Scandal
Princess Stella Oduah Ogiewonyi
A whooping N3.2 Billion contract for “Training of Niger Delta Militants in Oil and Gas” allegedly awarded to Princess Stella Oduah Ogiewonyi, third Wife of Minister for State Works, Chris Ogiewonyi few days to the Presidential elections has set tongues wagging at the Ministry of Niger Delta.
Sources informed Pointblanknews.com that the Niger Delta Militants who were granted amnesty were neither informed about the training nor aware that a contract for their training in “Oil and Gas” has been awarded to the notoriously corrupt Princess Oduah-Ogiewonyi through her Sea Petroleum and Gas Group, SP and G.
According to a senior official of the Niger Delta Ministry who pleaded anonymity, “as I am talking to you right now, we still do not understand what they are training the militants in Oil and Gas for and how that would serve their needs. It is just a callous waste of resources.”
Sources hinted that soon after the contract was approved on April 8, 2011, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Niger Delta released a bond covering the contract sum. But Princess Ogiewonyi would prefer cash payment instead of a bond.
A very credible source who is privy to the contract award told pointblanknews.com that Princess Ogiewonyi swiftly rushed to the Minister for Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga who alongside Minister for Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe headed straight to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, from where the bond was converted to cash and the sum released on April 12, 2011.
Some of the Militants who spoke to pointblanknews.com said they are yet to be briefed or informed about any training in Oil and Gas.
“Oga we don’t know anything about such contract or training. Nobody has told us anything. This is how all those government people make money with our names and then leave us here behind and if we start carrying arms now they would claim we are being stubborn,” one of the militants who does not want his name in print told Pointblanknews.com.
Princess Ogiewonyi who also doubles as the Director of Finance, Jonathan/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization is not new to allegation of corrupt enrichment. She allegedly registered different companies some of which was awarded contract to furnish the campaign organization office. She also got a N4b import waiver for rice that was distributed during the campaign.
She is also alleged to be fronting for Zakhem International, a Lebanese oil servicing firm discredited in Ghana and Liberia. She negotiates on behalf of Zakhem International with top government officials and the leadership of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The immediate past deputy high commissioner to Ghana, Craig Murray who is a well known international campaigner for transparency, described Zakhem as “astonishingly corrupt” in a well circulated article in the Ghanaian media in February 2010. Three years after Zakhem was paid a whopping $80 million to install at Kpone for the Volta River Authority a set of American-made power turbines which cost VRA only $70m, Zakhem has not even scratched the surface. The British diplomat called the Ghanaian officials who signed the deal “stupid and unintelligent”.
In neighbouring Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf wasted no time sacking last September the managing director of the Liberian Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC), Harry Greaves- once considered untouchable- when a Ministry of Justice probe report established that Zakhem was awarded a terribly inflated contract to build three new storage tanks for the LPRC and refurbish the existing 60 year-old terminal. The contract was awarded on May 1, 2009, for $24.8m whereas the same job could be done satisfactorily for no more than $12m, the highest amount internationally reputable contracting firms asked for.