By Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJAâ€”The Senate Committee on Water Resources yesterday affirmed that the N13.2 billion contract for the rehabilitation of Ogun/Osun and the Sokoto Rima River Basins Development Authorities awarded without the approval of the National Assembly was fraudulent.
The Committee at a budget defence meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr. Saâ€™ad Abba Ruma and heads of agencies of the ministry, yesterday in Abuja, also demanded explanations from the Directors of the affected River Basins for inserting the contract in the2009 budget without the knowledge of the Minister.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw who was shocked by the discoveries questioned why the two River Basins got N13.2 billion out of the N17 billion that was approved for all the River Basins in the 2009 budget.
He threatened that the Senate will terminate further approvals for continuation of the projects if the directors failed to justify the approvals.
In the controversial contracts, Ogun/Osun River Basin got N7.7 billion while the Sokoto Rima River Basin got N5.5 billion, leaving the balance of N4 billion for 11 other River Basins Development Authorities.
He said, â€œThis Committee has no knowledge and part in the allocation of N17 billion to River Basins Development Authorities. The Minister has no knowledge and part in this contract. The two River Basins must give us full details of the budget. How it came about, how it was implemented and how you came about the fund that was released.
â€œIf this type of thing happens again, I am going to write to the Minister that none of the projects is executed. We cannot have this type of thing going on in this country.
It is irresponsible and fraudulent. You have N7.7 billion, another have N5.5 billion while your colleagues have an average of N300 million, are you comfortable with that?
However you have this figure, I am going to go straight to the Presidency and ask that the contract be terminated.
â€œWe should be fair to Nigerians. You are happy to eat everything while the other man goes home hungry. I will not sit and approve this in the 2010 budget. As far as I am concerned, this will become another abandoned projects, it cannot continue like this.â€