A report presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday disclosed that over N423 billion has been spent on projects in the Niger Delta region through the supervising Ministry between 2009 and 2015.
The report unearthed massive contract scams responsible for an abysmal 12 percent execution of contracts in the region within the period in review. The government
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, who disclosed this to newsmen after submitting the report of a probe to the Council said the government now plans to recover the outstanding balance from the contractors or have them prosecuted.
He said “the revealing content of the report shows that over N423 billion has been expended in the region by the Ministry alone, not other intervening agencies.
“From this amount, project execution rate has been at 12 percent, with an average completion rate of a project standing at five years and the impact rate is eight percent.
“So, today we have sought approval from Council to have the recommendations of this report conveyed to the legitimate agencies charged with the statutory responsibilities of recovering government assets that are either misappropriated, misused or found to be idling in some quarters.
“With this, it means all those who have accessed government resources for one purpose or another must be compelled to make adequate use of same, otherwise face the recommendations that go with such violations, and that is our position concerning that report. And we have got Council approval for that.”
According to the Minister 60 percent of the funds appropriated for 427 contracts were paid out to contractors who only managed a 12 percent completion rate.
“When we say 60 percent, it is 60 percent of the amount of money that was actually appropriated, being N700billion. And so, 60 percent of that constitutes N423 billion.
“So, to find that N423billion has been expended in the region with the type of result we see obviously shows that there is something tangibly and obviously wrong with how procurement had been carried out in the Ministry”, he stated.
On the punishment to be meted to defaulting contractors, Usani clarified that “the measure of action to be taken to address the shortfall of our expectations of commitment to contractual commitments will be the determinant of what will be done.
“So, those that require sanctions will be sanctioned; and the sanctions may not be uniform, it will also be according to the measure of liabilities owed by each of those contractors.
“Some should be compelled to return to site. Some, of course, should be made to refund money – those who we have seen by action displaying criminal intent by collecting money and not appearing at site at all.
“The report is not just all about punishing people. There are also those who have performed well and are commended and the report recommends that they should be encouraged to carry on in their contractual commitments” Usani who briefed alongside ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Science and Technology, Ogbonaya Onu and Health, Isaac Adewole, said.
Monitoring and evaluation personnel in the Ministry found to have connived with the defaulting contractors will be approximately dealt with , the minister declared however declining to confirm any impending purge of officials.
The minister had recently embarked on an audit tour of projects listed under the ministry, both ongoing and abandoned projects in the Niger Delta region and had earlier in May demanded a detailed report from the Management of the Akwa Ibom State Office of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The Minister of Science and Technology, said the government was determined to end importation of raw materials and products which in the past had very adverse effects on the economy particularly as it concerns job creation and the search for self-reliance.
According to him, between 2000 and 2015, Nigeria spent as much as N49 trillion importing raw materials and products.
“Now, such level of importation is unsustainable but we are paying a price right now because if we have depended on our own raw materials, we would have had a service. With the sharp drop in the prices of crude oil, Nigeria would not have been able to withstand such a shock and we would not have had such problem that we are passing through now.
“So, the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is determined to change the direction that Nigeria is passing through. So, Raw Materials Processing and Development Council, one of the agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of Science and Technology had to undertake very important study. Before the study was done, there was extensive consultation with research institutes, countries and universities, businesses, industries, governments at all levels to determine our level of dependence on outside products and to find a way we can stop this” he said.