06 Dec, 2012
The Federal Government awarded contracts worth about N1.187tn between August 10, 2011 and November 28, 2012, information obtained from the website of the Bureau of Public Procurement has shown.
The figure represents the total value of over 140 contracts spread across various sectors of the economy. A breakdown of the contract showed that between August 10 and February 15, the FG awarded contracts worth over N700bn, while in the months from May 30 to November 28, it awarded contracts in excess of N400bn.
As the government continues to award contracts, in its quest “to better” the lot of Nigerians, however, there has been skepticism over whether the contracts would be executed and if executed, whether they would be effective, especially as a number of them have continued to generate controversy.
In June this year, Vice-President Namadi Sambo had himself said over 12,000 federal projects worth N7.8tn had been abandoned. The VP had warned that the trend would no longer be tolerated on June 21 when he inaugurated the Committee on Guideline for the Management and Implementation of Federal Infrastructure Projects in Abuja. Though he warned that, “In line with the transformation agenda, the Federal Government has decided that federal projects would no longer be done haphazardly or arbitrarily,” Nigerians have continued to complain of the trend.
In November 2012, the FEC approved no fewer than 25 contracts as the total number of contracts awarded between May and November rose to about 50. Contracts awarded in November were worth more than N200bn.
Among them was a contract worth N54.4bn for the provision of complementary engineering infrastructure facilities to the Federal Capital City. The contract for the rehabilitation of railway track network – Eastern Line (Port Harcourt – Maiduguri), which is worth N67.3bn was also among those awarded in November. Also, in November a contract worth N4.3bn was awarded for the design, manufacture, supply and commission of two sets of five-car diesel multiple units, each with a capacity of 540 passengera and additional six numbers of 68-seater passenger coaches.
Other contracts awarded in 2012 included a N2.7bn contract for the construction of Nkporo-Abriba-Ohafia Road in Abia State to Messrs Dutum Construction (Nigeria) Limited, Ministry of Works. The contract, awarded on May 30 is expected to be completed 18 months from the date.
On June 13, 2012, the Federal Executive Council approved a contract worth N90.6m for a major overhaul and restoration of Plant Unit GT17 at Ughelli Power Plc.
Over a month later, on July 25 2012, it reviewed the contract sum for the rehabilitation of phase I of the ministry of Finance office, to N2, 263, 231,068, with the contract expected to be completed in 56 weeks.
Three months later, with many more contracts approved in the time, the FEC awarded a contract worth N1.49bn for the completion of the construction of the Zik Mausoleum at Onitsha Anambra State.
A review of the contracts awarded by the Jonathan Administration between May 30 and November 28 this year showed that at least five consultancy contracts, worth N1.36bn were awarded.
These included the contract for the supervision consultancy services for reclamation work on the Abam-Nnuju-Igbiri-Oba-Ojimba-Okujagu-Ama Water front and back swamps, which was worth N383.3m.
On August 8, a contract was awarded for transaction advisory services for Design, Build, Finance and Operate on the 2ndNiger Bridge, which links Anambra and Delta States. The contract was worth N325.6m. On the same day, the FEC also awarded a contract worth N297.7m for transport advisory services for Design, Build, Finance and Operate on Apakun – Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road.
Two more consultancy contracts were awarded on November 28. The first, which is for the provision of consultancy services for the improvement of power supply at Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, was worth N233.8m, while the second – a contract for consultancy services (supervision) for the construction of inland River Port at Jamata, Lokoja – was worth N121.1m.
For the same period – May to November, the FEC favoured short-term projects. Of the 47 awarded contracts reviewed for the period, 29 (62 per cent) were contracts with completion duration of between one and 12 months. Contracts to be completed between 13 and 20 months were nine, as were those with completion duration of 21 months and above.
No show for defence ministry
Despite the security challenges in the country, the defence ministry, based on the contracts assessed, did not implement any contract in the period under review. The three security-related contracts awarded had to do with transportation and the Federal Ministry of Transportation was duly noted as the implementation agency. The first of the contracts – worth N3.119bn – (awarded on June 27) was for the design and construction of fast moving security patrol boats for Lagos Pilotage District for the Ministry of Transport/Nigeria Ports Authority. The second at N233,625,000, awarded the same day, was for the procurement of three fast-moving security boats for the ministry of Transportation/National Inland Waterways, while the third, a contract worth N189,733,635 and awarded on November 28, was for the supply of radiation and explosive detection devices for the Ministry of Transportation and the NPA.
The regular approval of contracts by the FEC has not been without criticism with many Nigerians accusing the executive of turning the weekly meeting into a platform for the award of contracts rather than an avenue for discussing serious national issues. In March this year, the House of Representative had also slammed the approval of contracts by the FEC, describing such actions as illegal. At the time, the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Procurement, Mrs. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas, had reportedly said the FEC was usurping the powers of the National Council on Procurement as stipulated by law. In the months that followed, the FEC has gone on to approve contracts in excess of N700bn and the debate has shifted from the legality of the contracts approved by the council to the relevance of the contracts and the council’s ability to ensure the approved contracts are executed properly if at all they are executed.
On Tuesday, Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal, lamented that up to 50 per cent of the nation’s revenue was spent by Federal Government agencies without appropriation by the National Assembly. At a meeting between revenue generating agencies and the House Committee on Finance, he had said, “The Constitution and our laws on revenue generation and expenditure have been observed more in the breach, adding,“for the avoidance of doubt, the Constitution has provided elaborate methods of revenue collection, revenue remittances and expenditure approvals.”
In terms of the relevance of contracts approved, the decision of the FEC to approve a N2.2bn contract for the construction of a 150-seater Banquet Hall and other related works in the Presidential Villa has been one of the most criticised contract awarded.
Following the approval, civil rights groups and opposition parties had slammed the Federal Government, saying with the country’s rising debt profile and 70 per cent of the country’s populace living below the poverty line, the proposal to build the hall showed how wasteful the administration had become.
The Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Debo Adeniran, had said, “The absurdity of the reasons given – that the present hall is two kilometres away from the Villa, and that it’s inferior to that of other similar countries – further demonstrate how frivolity governs the mindset of our leaders when taking serious decisions on our behalf.”
Augmentation and review of contracts
Aside from the contracts awarded, the FEC has increasingly resorted to reviewing and augmenting contracts awarded. For instance between May and November this year, up to nine contracts were revised.
An example is the augmentation on November 7, 2011 of contract No 1793 for the completion of dualisation of the Ibadan-Ilorin Road section 1: Ibadan-Oyo Road in Oyo State to the tune of N20. 1bn.
With over N1tn of contracts awarded in the last 16 months, one of the major concerns for civil society groups is the fact that the country has remained rooted at the bottom or close to the bottom in global statistics regarding the quality of life of the citizenry.
For instance, in November, out of 80 countries considered, Nigeria was ranked as the worst place for a baby to be born in 2013 by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
It also remains one of the few countries in the world that has yet to eradicate polio with over 70 per cent of the population living below the poverty line.
Also, in the United Nation’s Development Programmed Index for 2011, Nigeria was ranked 156th out of 187 countries surveyed with the UNDP saying that though Nigeria had recorded consistent high economic growth rate, it had failed to produce improved opportunities and reduce poverty among its citizens.