N273bn Niger Delta Fund Missing, Most Contracts Awarded Made No Impact On The People

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Violation of contract award process, sleaze and other issues were responsible for the stunted growth of the Niger Delta, report has said.
The government of the late Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua created the Ministry of Niger Delta in 2008 to oversee the region’s development.
A ministerial technical audit committee on the contracts awarded by the ministry between 2009 and 2015 has said most of the contracts awarded in the oil-rich region had no impact on the people.
The committee’s report also revealed that only N427 billion, representing 60 per cent out of N700 billion, budgeted for the ministry during the period was disbursed.
Project worth over N273 billion for which had been paid for cannot be accounted for, says the report.
The ministry was created as a special purpose vehicle to facilitate the development of the region. The incumbent minister, Uguru Usani, is an indigene of the region.
The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers. The committee was set up by Mr. Usani this year to evaluate and prioritise the projects embarked upon by the ministry in the nine Niger Delta states based on the availability of funds and overall impact on the living conditions of the benefitting communities. The report recommended the termination of six project while urging the refund of the amount collected on two others.
According to the report, all projects were to achieve the objective of enhancing socio-economic activities, human capital development and environmental protection of the region.
“Sadly, very insignificant numbers of projects have reached practical completion to provide the sense of belonging expected by Niger Deltans across board,” the committee said in the document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
“About 80% of the projects are either on-going, abandoned after payments, total abdication or refusal to deliver as in the case of Youth Capacity Building Programmes.
“The Federal Government well-intended intervention programme in the Niger Delta Region was poorly implemented six years after flag-off with serious consequences,” the report said.
The committee said it found out that the total cost of projects within the period was N700,538,741,691.30 excluding services (security, rent and facility management), adding that N446,421,385,864.41 was certified for payment but N423,172,256,347.84 was paid.
It said, “In other words, between 2009 and 2015, about 60% of contracts awarded were paid, but approximately 40% of work was practically achieved”.
While juxtaposing its finding from the project sites against fact retrieved from available documents domiciled in the departments that supervised the projects, the committee observed that there was violation of contract award process.
The report lamented that, “the way billions of naira are mentioned in construction projects value in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has become so banal that very soon, it is believed that they are likely to escalate to trillions of naira, even though the values do not appear realistic vis-à-vis the value added to the region through such contracts.”
It said right from the cycle of procurement planning to contract award, it noticed inconsistencies with the provisions of vital aspects of the Procurement Act.
Prominent amongst other issues of violation, it stated, were indiscriminate award of contract by initiating and benefiting departments without the leading and guiding role of the procurement department.
“Awards never took cognisance of availability of funds and annual appropriation provisions,” the committee said.
“The structure and content of some contract agreements were loose for checks and balances, indeed hardly protect the interest of the ministry in case of disputes.”
On delivery and capacity, the committee said the imminent picture of abandoned and uncompleted projects was as disturbing as the retinue of projects that extremely exceeded the dates of completion.
It said, “This manifestly, emanated from inconsistency in government annual budgetary provision and lack of capacity to deliver especially where funds released do not correspond with performance.
“Most contracts were awarded with specific dates of completion but were not captured in subsequent appropriations. This further exacerbated contractors’ poor performance and inability to achieve project objectives. Consequently, no capital project was completed within the stipulated time frame.”                                                        The Sun

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