… EFCC wade’s in, bars accused persons from contesting election
As the general election of the Federal Capital Territory Administration and the Federal Capital Development Authority cooperative society, FCDA, draws nearer, members of staff of the government establishment have bemoaned the activities of the outgoing executives, who they have accused of embezzling over 1.6 billion naira.
The FCDA/FCTA staff cooperatives, is an operation meant to generate dividend to all the staff and solve their immediate problems. Unfortunately, since its inception, nothing has happened, despite the regular deduction of percentage from over 18,000 staff salaries.
In this exclusive interview, one of the contestants to the office of the President, Mr. Hipo Onah, has been speaking with our correspondent on the possible way of rewriting the wrongs as well as instituting a financial prudent leadership to the full benefit of the cooperators.
As an association of all pensionable staff of the FCTA/FCDA amounting to 18,000 staff with category of contribution monthly, records left by the outgoing executive, shows reckless financial conduct which has generated much outcry to the attention of the FCT administration.
According to Onah, “We are just rising from mirage of problems where the present executive that were brought in as an interim measure; to clean the dirt has become a kind of ambush who actually has come to embezzle the funds.
At a particular time, this cooperative has a leadership that has a curse to buy a land mounting to over 1.6billion in Maitama.
On a more serious note, 200 square meters in maitama amount to 1.6 billion and paid in the name of the interim President and we also has in a good authority and this is a verifiable facts. He built a school that can be compared to an American International school in Nigeria.
The then secretary is a man of God who is pasturing a church also built his own school. And they shared to themselves at various committees, the amount of money amounting to 5million naira”.
Onah, who is one of the leading aspirants, noted that the practice left behind, was a kind of sharing Arabian cake to those who participated in perpetrating the evil.
He stated that the cry, over the huge financial misappropriation, made the management of the FCTA reacted to it and they hurriedly went somewhere around Nasarawa state to acquire an illegal land without document what so ever leading to the purchase of the land.
According to our source, “people went accepting and making payment without accessing the land; and this is where they made hundreds of millions at the end of the day. They simply embezzled these money with the plot to purchasing the lands.
“Eventually, the (Bright) administration was never elected and they came as interim when the EFCC came into the matter and to investigate the people and show us where they kept our money.
That was the way they were brought in. They were never elected and they came in and asserted themselves into authority eventually lasted for 5 years.
And what people saw and continued to see is a cooperative that is dying, people on the daily bases has withdrawn from the cooperative and many are also threatening to withdraw. And this is because of poor leadership, Lack of viable projects, lack of ideas and nothing has happened to show that there is any leadership and it has become so glaring that people can no longer access their savings. some has about 20,000 naira deducted from their salary, some 10,000.00, Some 5,000 monthly and this comes monthly as the salaries are paid at regular intervals and the aim is to save them for the raining day.
One could be in need where he or she can now fall back on it. How can one apply for just three hundred naira with the amount of over one million already saved and could not access the savings or loan for the period of five months”.
Further stressing the wrath meted on the cooperators, He said that Money deposited in a cooperative account is not to be tempered with and should be used to improve the lives of the staff. He noted that the outgoing executive, plausibly implies there is no money always when ever people asks for it.
“ let me tell you for example, I was in for international institution of Journalism IIJ examination, and I applied for 150,000. Withdrawal of savings and I gave them five months notice, but I could not access the loan after five months and I failed to attend the exams because there was no money.
,”Now I had 800,000 naira in the account but got nothing until the examination was over. I missed sitting for the examination and it took me another five months before I could sit for the exams again.
“Let me give you another example, some ones child was sick and when the person approaches them for loans, they keep on tossing you up and down until the child dies.
“Then if I should pass through these things while accessing my own savings, what then happens when I apply for loans. We have many cases like that. I knew of many medical Doctors, who has millions with the cooperative and some of them are always on medical trainings abroad but do you know that many of them were also denied of their academic chances because of this issues. The health workers has the largest chunk of membership in the cooperative but they have been disgraced”.
Onah, worried over would be the nature of a cooperative that people have failed to access their money, question the were about the people’s money lodged into the account for five years.
He said, “We can not answer until proven. And another question is, why should we solicit for land allocation from private investors even when we are the landlord of the FCT.
‘why is it that the executive did not approach the Minister for land allocation, not even the Abuja geographic Information system Agis, but has to approach a private developer to secure land for the cooperative in a remote village in Biazhin that is very unattractive for 150 million naira without the approval from the congress. Who and who approved or directed them to do that. Instead they should have called on the people to take allocation of the land and develop by themselves, they went and develop it with the peoples money and then built only 37 houses and we are talking of cooperative of 18,000 people.
“And then how do you recoup back the public fund and we all know that this move will tie peoples fund down. The idea is that they want to tell people that their money has been used in buying land so no need to ask for money and this is property that they have shared themselves”.
Commenting on the would be the fate of all the cooperators, who were not informed before the decision to purchase and built houses, our source, observed that the stringent measure attached in accessing the land for a spread of 15 years, is tantamount to people losing their entire contribution at the long run.
He opined that in an event that what happened during the El-rufai era, is repeated where many people lost their jobs during a new administrative policy, there will be deserter, should people want to withdraw their money in en-mass because fear.
“I dare to say that such project always come with bank guarantee where the bank will always be approached to take care of the debts in time of financing projects
“What they have done is diverting public fund to built private estates and putting the funds in private accounts and that is why when cooperators wants to take their money they were faced with lack of money available. It is fraud, a big fraud. And I wonder what cooperative suppose to be, is it the process of converting money into building houses for cooperators?
“What you need to do is when you get the land, you share the land and allow individual cooperators build their lands according to approved specifications. And it is on doing this you can now recoup the money to send dividend into every bodies account”.
As part of the cooperative policy, individuals stands to obtain dividends from their cooperative investments yet that of the FCTA/ FCDA, for many years have not received any dividend or interests as their money is kept with the bank for investment.
He said, that the staff cooperative is suppose to be trading with the generated money to make profit for the cooperators but was the other way round. “Let me say this as far as investment and profit making is concerned, we have been having the tradition of seasonal goods supply and purchase in Nigeria and many cooperative society in Nigeria have done that.
“A situation where a cooperative folds his arm and wait for the yuletide to come or festive period to come before purchasing rice and oil for the members. I know how this business are run, consumer goods are meant to be at cooperative ware house.
“What is wrong in a cooperative applying to become major distributors like rice and electronics? What happens if we go to Kaduna or kano textile and become a distributor. People use these consumer goods daily and more importantly they should be able to patronize the cooperative daily for their daily use for Gods sake we have up to 18,000 workers in FCTA/FCDA and such business would be a huge gains even when sold at subside rate for the people”.
He went further to say that for a leadership that could purchase lands in maitama worth 1.6 billion naira yet are still operating under a container. “couldn’t we apply for a good and well located land in the FCTA/FCDA staff to build a cooperate office with shops which the members can access at a subsidized rate? It is a viable venture but when people who lack vision are at the helm of affairs things will always go wrong.
” Like they say, when the righteous is in power, the people rejoices. what we need is individuals who have visions and when such individuals are brought in then this wise saying can be achieved”.
On the change he want to bring, in the cooperative, if elected into the leadership position, Hipo, assured that he will bring the that will enshrine transparency in the system.
“I want to bring a change that is people oriented, it is time to re-write the wrongs over the wraths perpetrated by the outgoing executives. We are to make the people who have left the cooperative come back by restoring their confidence in the cooperative.
” People should be in the full realization that the cooperative is a place they are to access their money and not where people’s money will be stolen, that is my mission.
“What is happening their has made the people call me out because they know my pedigree. The price that honest men take for keeping quit, is to allow dishonest men to keep ruling. In FCT, we have like minds at various levels. People who are in various sector and department and administrators all say enough is enough”.