….Denies N10bn budget jump for Independence celebration
By Daniel Idonor
THE Federal Executive Council, FEC, yesterday, at its weekly meeting, terminated the non-performing N58.6 billion Second Niger Bridge contract.
The plum contract, Vanguard gathered, was cancelled due to lack of competence on the side of the consultant, as government said a job of such magnitude required the services of an internationally-acclaimed consultant.
This coincided with the government’s denial of media reports (not Vanguard) that the N10 billion budgeted for the nation’s 50th Golden Jubilee celebration was initiated by President Goodluck Jonathan, after the late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua had approved N62 million, citing a budget jump.
Following high level successes recorded by the governmentâ€™s renewed manhunt for kidnappers in the South-East geo-political zones and other parts of the country; President Jonathan has directed the police and other security agencies in the region to sustain the heat in order to eliminate the menace.
FEC had at its meeting of 6 May 2007 approved the award of the contract on Public Private Partnership, PPP, to an Italian firm, Gitto Construction Company, on concession arrangement for 30 years to be constructed within 36 months for N58.6 billion.
The equity participation for the project was 60 per cent private and 40 per cent public, of which the governmentâ€™s equity was 20 per cent and 10 per cent each for Anambra and Delta state governments. For several reasons, the project could not be executed.
But, briefing State House Correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili and her Minister of State, Mr. Labaran Maku, said: â€œafter consideration, Council approved the vacation of EC (2007) 18th Meeting, Conclusion 39 of Wednesday 16Â May, 2007 and approved that the Ministry of Works should engage a reputable project consultant and commence a new procurement process for an award of contract for the Second Niger Bridge project, on a fast-track basis.â€
Denies N10bn budget jump
Akunyili stated that â€œour attention has been drawn to front page story in one of our national dailies today claiming that the former President Yarâ€™Adua had earlier budgeted N62 million for Nigeriaâ€™s golden jubilee celebration and that President Jonathan budgeted N10bn,â€ insisting that â€œthis is not true.â€
According to her, â€œthe N62m was not budgeted for the golden jubilee. It represents line items inserted in the budget of three ministries for the normal low key annual Independence anniversary celebration.â€
She explained that â€œit was indeed, President Yarâ€™Adua who appointed the Committee headed by Secretary to the Government of the Federation to draw up a comprehensive Golden Jubilee anniversary celebration programme and appropriate budget for the celebration when he realised that there was no budget for the Golden Jubilee.â€