By Henry Umoru
ABUJA— THE Senate, yesterday, asked its Committees on Public Procurement and Works to, as a matter of urgency, investigate alleged irregularities in awards and inflation of two contract sums which show excess of N2.4 billion by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, and Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP.
The Senate also directed the committee to forward the report of the probe within one week.
The decision of the Senate was sequel to a motion moved by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) on alleged irregularities in the award of contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of road and bridge projects in the first and second batch forwarded to it by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing through letters dated November 7 and 15, 2016 as contained in the 2016 budget implementation.
In the motion, Senator Melaye, who alleged that BPP went beyond its mandate in the approval of contract awards by the ministry by not only inflating some of the contract sums, but also re-awarded them to different companies, stressed, however, that the BPP in contravention of the Public Procurement Act went beyond its mandate to award contracts to companies not recommended by the procuring entity.
Melaye said: “For instance, the procuring entity recommended Deux Project Ltd for the rehabilitation of Numan-Jalingo road for N11.7 billion; the BPP awarded the contract to Rock Bridge Construction Ltd at N12.8 billion which is N1.1 billion in excess.
“While the Ministry of Works recommended the rehabilitation of Nenwe-Nomhe-Nburubu Nara road project to Don Machris Global Resources Ltd at N5.1 billion, the BPP awarded it to Arab Contractors Nigeria Ltd at N6.4 billion in excess of N1.3 billion.”
Melaye informed that the recommended contract sum by the ministry, which is already high, ought to have been ordinarily reviewed downward, but BPP by its action reviewed them upward and subsequently awarded them to companies not recommended by the procuring entity in flagrant violation of Section 19 of the Public Procurement Act.
He saiod: “The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing requested via a letter dated November 15, 2016, the Bureau of Public Procurement for due process certified to award contracts for 10 and 13 projects for the construction and rehabilitation under the 2016 budget implementation.”
Melaye observed that the BPP in the exercise of its mandate informed the ministry that there was no objection to their requests, adding: “But later wrote back to the ministry that due process of ‘no objection’ cannot be granted to the ministry in award of the said contracts.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who seconded Melaye’s motion, said any committee assigned to look into the allegation should do a thorough job in finding out details of infractions between the ministry and BPP as far as the contracts were concerned.
According to him, the country’s procurement process needs to be sensitive to our seasons and cautioned that the investigation should not be allowed to disrupt ongoing contract execution.