…As Contractors Move to Halt Probe
By Tordue Salem – Abuja
The House of Representatives ad hoc committee on abandoned Projects in Niger Delta has discovered that a total of 1,723 contractors had collected a total of N70.495 billion without mobilising to the site.
Recall that at last week sitting of the panel, the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), had disclosed that N64.4 billion was wasted by the NDDC as mobilisation fees on abandoned projects in the Niger Delta region.
But the Accountant General of the Federation’s (AGF) Report submitted to the ad hoc committee and obtained by Vanguard, shows that 1,723 contractors never went to the site after collecting N70,495,993,761 billion.
The report indicates that “90 per cent of these contracts were awarded between 2011 and 2012. It needs to be strengthened that some of these contractors have three to four jobs with their mobilization payments without reporting to site”
It further stated that “one can, therefore, imagine why the region is not developed when a developmental programme is being awarded as a contract to be completed within six months and the contractor would collect mobilization without reporting to site.
“The report above excluded those contractors that collected mobilization and reported to the site but with insignificant achievement before abandoning the projects. This equally excluded those in which the commission has declared their projects as stalled.
“It is a common practice for the commission’s contractors to collect mobilization and refuse to move to site. The blame for this should not only go to the contractors but equally to the management of NDDC, who awarded contracts that were not in existence, that is contracts without identification of the site, resulting to non-reporting to site by the contractor.
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“Besides the above, it was also observed that about 50 per cent of the contractors who claimed they have executed their various contracts specifications and completed with supporting engineers valuation certificate were later found out by the team that some merely collected money for work not executed”
Details of the contracts show that in Abia state, out of N17.641bn contract sum, N2.027bn was paid for 32 projects, in Akwa Ibom, N4.229bn paid out of N31.681bn contract for 64 projects; in Bayelsa N4.970bn paid out of N27.647bn contract for 80 projects; in Cross River, N2.065bn paid out of N13.451bn for 29 projects, while Delta has 99 projects for which N7.836bn has been paid out of N31.765bn.
In Edo state, N2.065bn has been paid for 51 projects out of N13.927bn; in Imo, N1.859bn paid out for 33 projects out of N13.184bn while Ondo and Rivers have 50 and 106 projects for which N6.173bn and N13.146bn have been paid out of N29.977bn and N56.717bn contracts respectively.
The report said “in the auditor’s opinion, this ugly trend will continue in the system in as much as the same class of people were recycling in the management and board of the commission”
Meanwhile, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele is to appear before the probe panel investigating projects abandoned by the NDDC on Thursday. Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai confirmed this in a chat with newsmen yesterday.
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Ossai explained that though the CBN governor was to appear before the committee on Tuesday, the letter of invitation was delayed so the committee had to reschedule it to Thursday.
But it was further gathered that there is pressure on the leadership of the House to dissolve the investigating committee following the sordid revelations coming out from the probe so far.
An insider in the committee confided in our correspondent that some of the indicted companies and contractors were using fronts to impress on the leadership of the House to stop the committee from further probe.
“I can confirm to you that the work of this committee has sent jitters to most of the contractors and companies that either collected payments without going to site or those who collected and later abandoned the sites and they are running helter-skelter trying to use some people in the House to influence the House leadership to dissolve the ad hoc committee. We have heard rumours like this.
“But I know who the honourable speaker Femi Gbajabiamila is; he will not listen to anybody that comes with such a complaint, so we are not bothered. We are doing our job and we have told the chairman not to be shaken but to remain resolute and I can assure you, we will get to the root of this rot.
“It is a shame that a commission that was established to redress the injustice done to the Niger Delta region is being turned into a bazaar for sharing contracts and not executing them. All Niger Delta indigenes involved in this shameful and criminal acts should bow their heads in shame”, the lawmaker stated.