Ondo Chocolate factory sale: Our position, Ondo govt replies Senator

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

Ondo state government, weekend explained its position on the alleged sale of the Multi Million naira Chocolate factory, located at ldanre area of the state by the aides to the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Recall that the Senator representing the Ondo Central Senatorial district, Ayo Akinyelure, had alleged that the aides of the governor, were about to sell the factory for less than N10m, noting that the was worth between N9billion and N15billion

Akinyelure alleged that the governor’s aide were out to take advantage of  his ill health, to sell off the factory at such a ridiculous amount without following due process.

But, the Senior Special Assistant (Agric & Agribusiness) to the governor, Akin Olotu at a briefing in Akure, said that the claim of the senator was not true.

Olotu, who however, admitted that it’s true the state government wanted to sell the chocolate company, but the process was not yet concluded.

He explained that the committee had placed advert in a national daily on September 16, 2022 and on September 19, 2022 asking for submission of expression of interest in the chocolate manufacturing company.

Olotu disclosed that two companies showed interest in the company and the committee had done the evaluation and other necessary processes and handed over to the Bureau of Public Procurement(BPP) for necessary assessment.

He said that “it’s after the Bureau completes its processing that the documents would be presented to the state Executive Council for ratification before the chocolate manufacturing company would be handed over to the better bidder after paying required sum.

“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 privatization and running of the factory.

“This administration complied with that provision by entering into agreement with him.

“He was to roll out chocolate from the factory on April 2nd, 2020, unfortunately he couldn’t return to the country because of COVID 19 outbreak.

“However, he put up another proposal with a humonguous financial implication, demanding for another set of equipment including bringing in of many other workers from the United States.

“The position of the State, was that he should begin operation with what is on ground as the procurement and setting up were 100% done by him.

“Evaluation assessment was carried out by the appropriate ministry (Ministry of Lands, Infrastructure and Works) to determine the value.

“At the expiration of the period in the advert and all other needed due diligence, the two bids were opened in the presence of all committee members drawn from all the MDAs mentioned above and also the two companies that bidded.

“Extension was given to one of the companies to address the omission in his bid and was advised to visit the factory for on the spot assessment.

“The report was collated by ONDIPA and forwarded to the Bureau of Public Procurement for further benchmarking. This is where we are to the best of my knowledge and my findings.

“It is after the benchmarking which is still on-going that the report will go to the State Executive Council for consideration, approval or otherwise.

“At this junction, it is crucial for me to mention that N100M or even N200M was never in consideration as none of the tender was below N300M.”

Corroborating Olotu, a member of the State Assets Disposition Committee from Ondo State Development Investment Promotion Agency(ONDIPA), Emmanuel Omomewo, said that the chocolate company was valued above N400 million but less than N500 million.

Omomewo said that” the company has not been sold but still undergoing processing.

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