N78.3m Website Scandal: Is Fashola A Sinner Or Saint? #Beekhaybee

Editor’s note: The former governor of Lagos
state, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has cut a niche
for himself as one of the most outstanding
politicians in Nigeria, following the
lofty achievements his administration recorded
in Lagos state. But recent allegations that a
questionable expenditure for the upgrade of a
website in his name was approved under his
watch has raised some unanswered questions.

Raji Fashola

Babatunde Raji Fashola
Over the weekend, news circulated that former
governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Raji
Fashola, had in questionable circumstances
approved the whopping sum of N78.3 million of
Lagos tax-payers money for the upgrading of a
website.
Details of the contract which was made
available by the Lagos State Public Procurement
Agency, in a budget report, stated that the
upgrade of http://www.tundefashola.com website
which was executed by Info Access Plus Limited
was done at the cost of N78,300,000.00.
A report on Sahara Reporters dated August 07,
2015, said the story was broken by BudgIT with
reference to the website of the Lagos State
Procurement Agency. The whistle blowing site
further estimated that a WordPress website, like
http://tundefashola.com/http://
tundefashola.com/should not cost more than
N3million, according to expert opinions.

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Under the details Of contracts awards for 2014,
Number 13, highlights the controversial website
saga
While many Nigerians are still in shock and
disbelieve regarding the questionable
sum approved for the upgrade of a website, the
saga has now taken another dimension
following denials by the IT firm named by the
Lagos state procurement office as receiving
N78 million for the upgrade of the site.
The Defence
Info Access Plus Limited in a Premium Times
report of August 9, 2015, denied ever
receiving N78 million for the job. The IT
company said it was given N12.5 million for the
upgrade and eventually executed the contract at
the sum of N10 million.
Detailing its own side of the story, a statement
by the IT company which was made available
by the online news paper reads:
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 http://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:
Introduction
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
http://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 http://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”?
5m was quoted for the upgrade of the
http://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.
For the Records
In addition, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN,
personally paid for the http://www.brforg.org web
site, even when he was the Lagos State
Governor. He felt that http://www.brforg.org is the
online presence of his Non-Governmental
Organization, BRF Organization. Again, we state
for the records, that the website in question is
the official website of the Governor of Lagos
State and not Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola’s
personal website as being disparagingly alleged
by the campaigners.
Quality Software Development Takes Serious
Effort, Time and Resources
According to Bloomberg, theObamacare
Enrollment System web site costs more than $2
Billion.
According to the YCharts, theAnnual Facebook
Cost of Goods Sold for December 31, 2014, is
$2.153B from revenue of $12.47B .
According to the same YCharts, theAnnual
Twitter Cost of Goods Sold for December 31,
2014, is $446.31M from revenue of $1.403B .
According to the same YCharts, theAnnual
Microsoft Cost of Goods Sold for December 31,
2014, is $33.04B from revenue of $93.58B .
According to the same YCharts, theAnnual
Google Cost of Goods Sold for December 31,
2014, is $25.69B from revenue of $66B .
According to the same YCharts, theAnnual
Apple Cost of Goods Sold for December 31,
2014, is $112.26B from revenue of $182.80B .
All these private sector driven Operating Costs
still run into several billions, while taking
serious effort to reduce waste.
It’s evident from these stated facts that good
products take huge amount of planning, time
and resources.
Was the Facebook built and maintained with
less than $500,000? Anyone making this claim
is dubious.
Signed on Behalf of Info Access Plus Limited
More Questions Than Answers
As commendable as the efforts of Info Access
Plus Limited is in trying to clarify matters on
the bogus sum involved in the upgrade, it is
even more puzzling that the company itself
which is in the business of building and
upgrading websites for its so called clients is
not recognized by Google search as having a
website of its own.
While it will be against the principles of fair
hearing to accuse Fashola of graft especially
when neither the former governor, widely seen
as one of few upright politicians, nor any of his
representatives are yet to respond to the
allegations, it is however important to note that
the website saga has the semblance of a white
elephant project.
The claims by the procurement office that such
huge sum was used to upgrade an
ordinary website is absurd, ridiculous and
suspicious.
The suspicions have even heightened following
suggestions by expert opinions that the funds
claimed to have been used to upgrade the
Fashola website surpasses that used to start up
Facebook and Twitter all together.
As if the website saga is not enough surprise,
other huge sums claimed to have been spent
on the purchase of 60 units of Jeeps for the
High Court of Lagos State at the cost of N751m
and the N330m spent on the residence for the
deputy governor among other spending on so
called projects as reported by budget report
have raised eyebrows.
These figures appear to support the criticism by
the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the
huge debt burden of N418.2 billion left by
Babatunde Fashola, for his successor, Governor
Akinwunmi Ambode cast doubt on the gains of
the infrastructure development brought about by
the loans of his administration.
It is however worthy to note that even though
the budget report on the website upgrade by
the procurement agency is not indicting Fashola
or anyone for that matter, it suffice to say that
some claims made in the sheet appear to fall
short of the standards of transparency, civic
engagement and accountability expected
in public finance.
The views and opinions expressed in this article
are solely those of the original author. These
views and opinions do not necessarily
represent those of Naij.com, its editors or
other contributors.

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