Ondo State Government has berated Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central) over the allegation that the state-owned chocolate factory has been sold off without due process.
Akinyelure had, through a motion on the floor of the red chambers, accused some government appointees of allegedly conspiring with some persons to illegally sell off the factory worth about N15 billion for N10 million.
Puncturing the senator’s claim, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Agriculture and Agribusiness, Akin Olotu, who was specifically accused by the senator, disclosed that after necessary procedure, the factory would be handed over to a reliable bidder.
At a press briefing on the issue in Akure, Olotu, who was flanked by some members of the State Asset Disposal Committee, disclosed that the process of selling the factory “has not been concluded.”
He noted that the committee had placed advertisements in a national daily on September 16 and 19, 2022, asking for interest in the chocolate manufacturing company.
Olotu disclosed that two companies showed interest in the company, and that the committee had done the evaluation and other necessary processes and handed it over to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for the necessary assessment.
He said: “The factory was an uncompleted project inherited from the immediate past administration. It was completed by this administration using the same consultant we inherited.
“The contract the state had with the consultant gave him ‘right of first refusal’ in the privatisation and running of the factory. This administration complied with that provision by entering into an agreement with him. He was to roll out chocolate from the factory on April 2, 2020.”
Unfortunately, he couldn’t return to the country because of the COVID-19 outbreak.” According to him, some Nigerians, who were put together to run the factory, did exceedingly well technically, but did not have the needed funds to take it over.
“The leader on the ground (Mr. Robo Aduze) in the factory died last year, and the state government decided to advertise the factory in national and state newspapers for outright sale or partnership, calling for tenders as statutorily required. This was done by Ondo State Development Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA).
“At this juncture, it is crucial for me to mention that N100 million or even N200 million was never in consideration, as none of the tenders were below N300 million.”
Also, a representative of ONDIPA on the State Assets Disposition Committee, Emmanuel Omomewo, stated that the chocolate company was valued above N400 million.