Olembe Stadium construction scandal: Heads may roll as MPs trigger move for arrest of suspects.

President Paul Biya’s over four decades stay at the helm of the state and counting, has unarguably been rocked by issues of transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.



Experts opine and rightly so, that transparency and accountability form the basic foundation of good governance for economic growth. 

These scandals are unfortunately persisting despite well-established legal frameworks and numerous institutions to fight the cankerworm.

Among these recent embezzlement scandals is that related to the construction of the Olembe Sports Complex, which would have unarguably been among the best sports facilities in the globe.

The scandal has caused repeated public outcry from majority of concerned Cameroonians, among them politicians, civil society actors and opposition lawmakers.

 

MPs urge Biya to sack, arrest concerned ministers

Cameroon’s veteran leader is on record through his leadership style as one who cannot be pressured to act, even in the phase of burning state issues.

Little wonder, one of his close aides, the Deputy Director of Civil Cabinet, Oswald Baboke likened him to a computer software that cannot be programmed.

However, some outspoken opposition Members of Parliament, MPs, are currently on the President’s throat. They now urging him to sack and arrest all members of government who are concerned with the disappearance of funds meant for the construction of the Olembe Sports Complex, which might end up putting the country once more on a global scale as a leader in the corruption index.

Honourables Jean-Michel Nintcheu of opposition Social Democratic Front, SDF party, and Cabral Libii of PCRN, have in separate outings called on the Head of State to bring those found guilty of having diverted state funds meant for the project.

As reported by Douala-based media organ, Equinoxe Television,  Hon Nintcheu, has in a press release issued January 11, raised series of issues related to irregularities surrounding the sports facility.

Nintcheu emphatically stated that government must answer questions concerning the mismanagement of funds meant for the finalisation of the project. The MP also expressed indignation following the decision by MAGIL Construction Company to terminate her contract with the State on the project.

To the MP, the threat to terminate the contract is clear evidence of massive embezzlement by state authorities who were charged with ensuring he project is completed.

Hon Nintcheu claimed the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Prof Narcise Mouelle Kombi, has been spreading “false information” on the advancement of work at the Olembe Sports Complex.

Nintcheu categorically called on the Head of State to dismiss all ministers who were in charge of managing the funds related to Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON.

The outspoken MP said any laxity on the part of the President of the Republic concerning the scandal will rather give the impression that he knows more about the project.

The SDF lawmaker in the release regretted the fact that his appeal to be granted audience by the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic, to get answers about the project did not get a positive reply.

 

 

 

Enter Cabra Libii

Another lawmaker who has been vocal on the Olembe Sports Complex scandal is Hon Cabra Libii. In separate outings on his official Facebook page, the MP has called on the Head of State to arrest all those believed to have diverted state funds to their private accounts.

The MP described developments related to the sports facility as the “most spectacular financial scandal” that has rocked the country in the last decade.

“My God! What have we done to deserve this?”, the opposition politician exclaimed while announcing a special live outing to denounce the scandal.

“Let's demand their arrest and register massively on the electoral lists. I will go into detail about the key moments that led to the wreckage we see today around the Olembe Sports Complex,” he told his followers.

“The President of the Republic must crack down and we must clear out these prevaricators with our ballot. It is time...” he added.

He went further to present clarifications of the transactions between the Ministry of Sports, the Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic and MAGIL Company. Hon Cabral mentioned loans which were contracted by the State through the Ministry of the Economy to complete the facility.

“Clearly, each payment made to MAGIL received prior validation from MINSEP,” the MP said, while questioning why the Ministry that “covered MAGIL throughout this scandalous mismanagement, later accuse MAGIL of always flouting its instructions, even though it had always validated the transfers?”.

 

The PCRN president further asked: “Where does it come from that MINSEP is now asking MAGIL, in whose interest it has validated all the payments, to justify the said payments?”.

He intimated that, it is “clear that this is a gang of criminals trying to confuse Cameroonians...some want to liquidate others, some want to cover up for others…Let the President of the Republic take his responsibilities!,” the Member of Parliament insisted.

 

Panic grips members of gov’t?

Most members of government related to the funds are said to be in panic. This, we gathered, is because President Paul Biya is putting much interest to bring such persons to book.

It should be noted that President Paul Biya in his December 31, 2022 message to the nation reiterated his resolve to bring those found guilty of pilfering state resources to book.

Last year, in similar circumstances, I talked about the need to strengthen governance in the management of public affairs and to control government spending. Rest assured that this concern is constant and unwavering. I also want to reiterate that those who are illicitly amassing wealth by plundering the State, at whatever level, will be brought to book,” Biya warned.

The President also urged “Cameroonians, regardless of their social standing, to resolutely embark on this crusade that I have led over the years”. Everyone, Biya stated, “ should act with integrity and safeguard our commonweal. It is only through working collectively, decisively and resolutely that we will be able to overcome the corruption persisting in our society,” he added.

 

Olembe Sports Complex uncompleted

The sports complex which construction was to be at the tune of 163 billion FCFA is still to be completed. Most aspects of the facility which was to make it a full complex are still not completed though huge sums have been doled out by the state for the finishing.  

The main stadium which has been completed has 60,000 seats with two training grounds with a capacity of 1,000 seats each and a covered stand.

At the moment, many are questioning what is still blocking the completion of other facilities including a covered gymnasium with a capacity of 2, 000 seats, a museum, an Olympic swimming pool with a capacity of 1,000 seats and various pools; two basketball courts; two volleyball courts; four tennis courts; a commercial spaces and shopping arcades, a five-star hotel with at least 70 rooms among others.

 

Sports ministry, MAGIL fracas

The Minister of Sports on January 3, 2023 addressed a letter to the Secretary General of the Prime Minister’s Office indicating that MAGIL decided to terminate its contract with the government.

Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in the letter revealed that MAGIL Construction, has decided to unilaterally put to an end the contract. The Minister of Sports also indicated that the budget provided for the completion of other related infrastructure had already been made available to Magil. However, he said, the company  had been demanding more financial resources, without advancing work on other related infrastructure despite all reminders.

“This company has implemented schemes to artificially inflate its services through the slowing down of works,” he wrote, citing  “simple stoppage, overbilling, double billing, and exponential remuneration of expatriate staff”.

In a press release signed Wednesday, January 11, 2023, the Canadian company denounced what they described as the “unfounded” attacks by Minister Prof Mouelle Kombi.

In the release, the company said, “after having exhausted all remedies and initiated all amicable settlement mechanisms, found itself forced, on December 5, 2022, to give notice to MINSEP to regularize its obligations within 30 days to avoid the termination of the main contract and its referral to arbitration”.

The company disclosed that, its correspondence “also went unanswered but was the subject of a letter for the attention of the Secretariat of the Prime Minister containing erroneous and slanderous information, transmitted to the media and altering the image of MAGIL Construction Corporation and that of its collaborators”.

(c) The Guardian Post, 2023

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