By Okey Ndiribe
The decision of the House of Representatives to summon former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, over road contracts that were awarded during his tenure in office came as a big surprise to many Nigerians.
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the House Hon. Solomon Adeola Olamilekan had last weekend declared that the House would formally invite Anenih this week to explain his role in an alleged N20billion contract scam.
Hon. Olamilekan stated that the contract which was awarded during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration had made it nearly impossible for the committee to conclude its report on the Auditor General of the Federation’s annual reports for 2006.
The committee had initially indicated its intention to invite the former Works Minister during one of its public hearing sessions late last year over an abandoned road project in Nassarawa State in 2006.
The contract was said to have been awarded in 2001 when he was still the Minister of Works.
Also mentioned for possible summons were the site engineers, Federal Controller of Works and the Permanent Secretary of the ministry when the contract was awarded.
Olamilekan had threatened that the House would not hesitate to use the services of Interpol to extradite the contractor, Torino Internazionale Nigeria Limited which left the country after collecting N1.8 billion without executing the road project.
According to him, Chief Anenih had been invited in respect of a memo he presented to the then Federal Executive Council, FEC, under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which convinced the body to award the contract, despite an earlier strong advice that the firm had no technical capacity to handle the road project.
The committee had expressed reservation as to why such a huge amount of money would go down the drain under the watchful eyes of those at the helm of affairs.
Auditor-General of the Federation, AGF, had in its 2006 audit report, alleged that the failed road contract was awarded at the cost of N2.3 billion, of which N552 million was paid, before the contract was terminated.
The contractor later went to court and obtained court judgment of N1.3 billion against the Federal Government for terminating the contract.