By Daniel Idonor
President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua has directed the immediate stoppage of award of further contracts by the Federal Government through the ministries, departments and agencies (MDA).
To this end, the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday announced that it had suspended the approval of contract awards by various ministries and had rather begun assessment and review of the performance of the contracts already awarded.
Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, said these at briefing with State House Correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting which was presided over by Yarâ€™Adua with Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan in attendance, at the Presidential Villa.
The minister stated that that of the Power Ministryâ€™s allocation of N78.96 billion, N35.45bn was released to it while it had expended N20.98 bn on various power projects aimed at achieving the 6,000 megawatts electricity target by year-end.
She added that additional N806.25bn was expected from the intervention funds of the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Listing some constraints to generating and distributing electricity with a current shortfall of 1,950 megawatts, the minister said government was working round the clock to improve the situation.
These constraints, according to her, include gas supply limitations, security problems, vandalism of transmission lines and accessories as well as inadequate budgetary funds for the power sector.
â€œDespite all these challenges, the Ministry of Power has assured us that we will meet Mr. Presidentâ€™s target of generating 6,000 megawatts of electricity by the end of 2009,â€ she added.
For the Ministry of Works, Housing and Urban Development, she said from its 2009 budget of N209.20bn, it has received N26.17bn and spent N23.67bn in the first quarter of the year, marking 90 per cent utilisation.
For the second quarter, the ministry received N99.41bn and expended N33.33bn (33 per cent utilisation) whereas N20.43 billion was released for mobilisation of contractors.
Akunyili explained, however, that by end of July, 70 per cent utilisation of funds is expected by the ministry as 56 per cent of third quarter allocation would have been released.
Much of the funds are going into fixing the over 34,000 kilometres of deplorable roads across the country inherited by the Yarâ€™Adua administration, and which are being rehabilitated on zonal basis with emphasis on major economic routes.