June 13, 2024

Controversies mar probe of $4.451billion NLNG Project 7 by NASS  Joint Committee


National Assembly

By Henry Umoru 

ABUJA- INVESTIGATION of the National Assembly into the  $4.451 billion Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) project 7 has been enveloped in controversies,  disagreements and rowdiness from stakeholders.

This happened yesterday in Abuja at the National Assembly during a session held on it by Senate and House of Representatives  joint committee.

At the sitting yesterday, for twice and for over an hour  each, the joint Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives conducting the probe went into  two seperate Executive sessions  with the NLNG officials led by NLNG Project Director, Ali Uwais as well as the contractors handling the project. 

At the end of the day, the Committee agreed to formally make their requests known to the NLNG in terms of document and other information needed as it failed to get the required  information. 

It also charged the NLNG to halt further variations in the $4.451,731,937 billion contract.

Thursday’s resumed investigative hearing attracted very large crowd of lawmakers comprising members and non-members of the Gas committees because of the hostile atmosphere that has weakened and crippled the investigation since its beginning. 

Trouble started when Uwais submitted a document containing what the lawmakers called limited information. 

In his remarks,  chairman of the joint committee, Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, PDP Cross River North, howevet expressed disappointment that a clause in the document,  clearly said that “figures contained therein are disputed and subject to ongoing legally privileged commercial negotiations”.

Jarigbe said that  it means the figures can not be used for the investigation. 

Amidst the tense situation, the committee went into the first closed door session.  After an hour of secret talks, journalists were called in to monitor the situation. 

Lawmakers took their turns to condemn the insistence of NLNG and the contractors on not making useful information available for the investigation. 

The contentious issues include lack of information and explanation on the original contract sum which was $4,372,760,462.

Others are limited information on the 99 total variation requests worth $177,892,289; approved 62 variation orders amounting to $43,771,475; and approved amendments (claims/settlement) worth $35,000,000.

The NLNG had informed the committee that there are five variation requests being evaluated and they amounted to $7,609,678.

Uwais also told the committee that the fluctuation in foreign exchange rate is a principal cause of contract variation, just as he explained on the status of the project, “The overall progress of the project is at 67% completion, made up of engineering at 97.9%, procurement at 95.5% and construction at 52.5%.

The Committee thereafter adjourned to reconvene on July 3, 2024.

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