By Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€”EXPECTATION by most Nigerians that the Federal Executive Council, FEC, would prune the seven-point agenda of the late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua fell flat, yesterday, as the ministers came out to deny ever having the issue on its agenda.
Rather, the Federal Government rose in strong defence of the agenda of the late President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s administration, as a workable development blueprint for the socio-economic turnaround of Nigeria, saying that it remained committed to the agenda.
The Council insisted that there was never a time, especially since the demise of the late President that the idea of the cancellation of the seven-point agenda was either muted, stating that the agenda remained the working document of the government underÂ Yarâ€™Adua or Jonathan.
Minister of State for Information and Communications, Labaran Maku, who spoke on the controversy, said the document was adopted by the Government and since the Jonathan-led administration was a continuation of Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s, there was no going back on the policy.
Vanguard gathered that President Goodluck Jonathan, who was apparently disturbed by the 30 per higher cost of executing government contracts in the country, had ordered that steps be taken towards reversing the ugly trend.
Yesterdayâ€™s weekly Federal Executive Council, which deliberated on the matter, however, resolved to constitute an inter-ministerial committee to undertake a comprehensive study of all grey areas identified as a boost to the unacceptable but widespread practice.
This came barely three days after the Presidential Committee on the Assessment of Federal Government Projects made a startling discovery that contract for the N63.8 billion second runway construction job of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, was over quoted by over 30 percent.
The Panel immediately re-negotiated the job and the government was able to save the N13 billion from the contract.
Chairman of the Committee, Arc. Ibrahim Bunu, who fielded questions from State House Correspondents said the setting up of the panel was informed by the widespread interest government contracts had generated in the recent past, adding: â€œThe airport contract has generated a lot of interest especially from the NASS and that is why we had to quickly look into the issue and we have reduced the cost.â€
Minister of State for Information and Communication, Maku, said it was regrettable that public contracts in Nigeria were 30 per cent higher than those of our neighbouring countries in the West Africa.
Accompanied by the Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Alhaji Bala Mohammed, Education, Professor Ruqqayatu Rufia and Minister of State for Niger-Delta, Hon Samuel Ode, Maku said: â€œFEC approved the constitution of an inter-ministerial committee on high cost of contracts in the country. Nigerian contracts are 30 per cent higher than in the other West African countries.â€
Another committee headed by the Vice President, Maku said, was also set up to look into the cases of arbitrary award of contracts by State governments for the construction of federal roads, only to claim such costs later from the Federal Government.
He disclosed that in the recent past, State Government unilaterally awarded contracts for road jobs belonging to the Federal Government, without the knowledge of the Federal Government, saying a new plan was in the offing to help both parties involved.
Other FEC decisions
Maku said that Council had also approved the provision of infrastructural development in Katampe District at the cost of N62.2 billion under the Public Private Partnership, PPP, which would last for two months.
The private investor, he stressed, was expected to charge N12, 000 per square meter from each plot allotee within five years, as way of recouping its investment, noting that if this succeeded, it could lead to more projects execution through the same agreement.
The minister said that two contracts were also approved by Council for award by the Ministry of Niger-Delta, which include the dualization of the 200- kilometre Port Harcourt-Abia-Akwa Ibom road (first phase) at the cost of N13.6 billion.
The job which is expected to be completed in 24 months, include another consultancy services of N285 million, thereby bringing total sum N13.592 billion for 24 months.