Delta state commissioner for Energy, Mr. Newworld Safugha, a known kickback master and the Permanent Secretary, (PS), of the ministry, Mr. Ike Odua are currently embroiled in forcefully demanding and receiving of kickbacks from contractors handling electrification projects for the Delta state government.
Some of the contractors who raised the alarm accused the two government officials of incessant harassment and intimidation to force them into bargaining percentage for kickbacks running into millions of naira before their papers are raised and prepared and forwarded to the finance ministry to effect payment.
A contractor who spoke with HardReporters, under anonymity complained that the commissioner used his boys and “political” staff to forcefully demand the kickbacks before certain contractual documents are attended to before payment by the finance ministry “And any contractor who refused to part with the kickbacks will be frustrated and your papers for payment will not be attended to,”
HardReporters reliably learned that since his appointment in 2015 as the Energy commissioner, Safugha, has made it as a point of duty to personally or used his close staff to demand kickbacks in percentage running into millions of naira from contractors executing jobs in his ministry for the state government.
An impeccable source in the Energy ministry who pleaded for anonymity confided in our correspondent that the commissioner and the Permanent Secretary, connived to carry out the forceful demand of kickbacks from contractors, “And the kickbacks are always negotiated when the jobs are ripe for payment and if you don’t play along you are on your own.” the source added.
According to the source “Unabated corruption is seriously going on in the energy ministry perpetrated by the commissioner and the PS. A contractor with the knowledge of the governor submitted a proposal for 12 transformers for a project which the governor instructed to be included in the ministry’s budget but the PS included only 6. This infuriated the governor when the contractor reported to him. The governor had to summon the PS to a meeting with the contractor.
“At the meeting the PS apologised and told the governor it was an over sight. After the meeting the PS approached the contractor why he had to report to the governor when he could have met with him first and discuss. It was later discovered that the PS had concluded plans to include the 12 transformers in the ministry supplementary budget and when the money is made available only 6 transformers will be purchased while the remaining money for the 6 will be pocketed.
“The commissioner and the PS have always boasted that nothing will happen because kickbacks are not restricted to only the ministry. They will say that kickbacks are carried out in all the ministries in the state even other offices as such heavens will not fall. Our commissioner will always tell you his closeness with the governor and how he worked hard for the governor’s primaries and election in 2015 and whatever anybody report to the governor will not hold water.” the source said.
Confiding in HardReporters correspondent, some experiences contractors always encountered with the commissioner and permanent secretary, a contractor who pleaded for anonymity described Delta state as the most corrupt state in the whole World and blamed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies for not doing enough in the state as far as tackling corruption was concerned.
“We contractors handling ministry of energy jobs for the state have been frustrated over this kickbacks of a thing. The commissioner and the PS are corruption personified, especially Mr. Safugha. Do you know during former governor Uduaghan’s administration, I worked with Nigeria cables which is the best and durable but Safugha and the PS insisted I use China cables which are not durable and cheaper so as to enable Safugha and his PS rake in more money into their private pockets.
“Recently governor Okowa invited myself, the commissioner to a meeting when he suspected some pranks. But do you know during our meeting, the governor asked me a sensitive question which when explained into details might cost the commissioner his job. But do you know what happened.? Immediately, the commissioner began to wink me, begging profusely with his eyes that I cover up and I did, thinking he will change.” the local contractors said.
As at the time of filing in this report, calls and messages sent to the commissioner for Energy, Mr. Newworld Safugha and Permanent Secretary, (PS), Mr. Ike Odua were not responded to, but a senior staff of the ministry said “This issue of kickbacks is a general sickness in all the ministries. Let that commissioner or PS come out and tell Deltans that he or she is not guilty of this unabated corrupt practices running in their veins. Even during Uduaghan time, it was the same.”
In 2013, some heads of personnel management (HPMs) as well as several chairmen of local government councils in Delta State had accused Safugha when he was then the state’s commissioner for local government affairs, of demanding and receiving millions of naira in kickbacks.
Safugha, known for kickbacks, who was the former publicity secretary of the Peter Nwoboshi-led state PDP executive, was among the state party executive that extorted millions of naira from council chairmen sometime in 2010 in the name of projects inspection across the 25 local government councils.