December 4, 2012

Flood: We spent N25bn of Ecological Funds – SGF

File photo: An aerial view of submerged community in the Niger Delta

By Okey Ndiribe &  Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA — SECRETARY to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, yesterday, said the N25billion Ecological Funds was spent on the recent flood crisis that ravaged most communities in the country.

Speaking at an interactive session with the Committee on Environment, the SGF said the Ecological Fund was not properly managed at the time it was created, stressing this was part of the problem now facing the nation.

File photo: An aerial view of submerged community in the Niger Delta

The SGF noted that the amount spent was the intervention in the devastation which was wrought on several states of the federation. .
Uche Ekwunife, chairperson of the committee, noted that the fund was solely meant to address the ecological problems facing various states across the country.

Abandoned projects

She stressed further that her committee was not impressed with the application of the funds as everywhere the committee went on oversight, there were scores of abandoned projects.

She also observed that the  investigative process stemmed out of a motion deliberated on the floor of the the House on Thursday, November 15, 2012, on the Ecological Funds Projects procurement process as it concerned 17 projects for which procurement commenced since 2006 and was still not completed six years after the projects were first advertised.

She said:  “We are concerned that the ongoing process may have contravened provisions of the Procurement Act 2007; and that due diligence may not have been carried out before the said  projects recently found their way to the office of the SGF and the Minister of Environment for signing. It is the opinion of the committee that the ongoing process has not only become  moribund but time bared because ecological problems progress with changing years and weather and as such are time sensitive.”

A  member of the committee, Pat Asadu, called the attention of members to the absence of the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, who was supposed to have been at the session. Members of the committee condemned the absence of the minister who wrote to request that the hearing be moved to another date as she had to travel to Doha on official assignment.

They wondered why the “jamboree” to Doha when there were more urgent issues to address at home.
The SGF in his response, said the main problem that dogged the ecological funds was that at the time it was created, it was not properly streamlined.
Anyim, who lamented that projects were abandoned, charged states that initiated or requested for projects to monitor them.

According to him, states have their own allocation of the funds and should stop heaping the blame on the federal government. He said most of the projects might have been poorly conceived, as there was a need to review the projects. Anyim apologised on behalf of the minister and appealed to the members.

He said though President had cut down on foreign trips, “the minister had scheduled the meeting from February with approval from the President and it was not an excuse to avoid the committee.”