Sylvanus Okereke – Abuja
The House of Representatives’ Ad-hoc Committee on Communications has commenced investigation into various abandoned communication related projects awarded since 1999 to date.
To this end, the Ad-hoc Committee chaired by Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, has summoned contractors and awarding federal ministries, Departments, Agencies, Parastatals, Commissions and Boards.
Some of the contracts were awarded by Federal Ministry of Communications Technology; Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST); Nigerian Satellite Communications Satellite Ltd. (NIGCOMSAT) and Galaxy Backbone.
Hon. Umeoji, who disclosed this at the inaugural meeting held in Abuja, assured that the Committee will justify the confidence reposed on it by the House leadership.
According to him, the mandate of the Ad-hoc Committee involves the investigation of Federal Government’s abandoned projects from 1999 till date with a view to establishing the cost of award, period of award, state of completion and constraints.
He observed that: “Federal Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Parastatals, Commissions and Boards awarded contracts for the execution of several capital projects to contractors since the return of the nation to democratic rule in 1999.
“Many of these projects have been abandoned even as many of them have received advanced payments of not less than 50% of contract sum.
“Government has spent several billions of naira on such contracts without government and the people getting value for money spent so far.
“It is instructive to note that if the nation is to have a meaningful development in terms of infrastructure and social services, there is urgent need for a change in the manner of award of contracts for and the execution of capital projects.”
Analysts however observed that similar probe initiated by the previous Assemblies were done in futility.
Recall that the 6th and 7th session of the House of Representatives initiated investigations into the $470 million awarded to Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation in 2010, for the installation of 2,000 digital solar powered cameras in Abuja and Lagos.
The cameras were to be accompanied with 37 switch rooms, MW backbone, 37 coalition emergency response systems, 38 video conference sub-systems, 37 e-police systems, six emergency communication vehicles and 1.5 million lines for subscription.
The contract involved a payment of 15 percent by the Nigerian government and 85 percent by the Chinese EXIM Bank to be repaid within 10 years at the prevailing interest rate.
In a related development, the 8th Assembly had recommended the prosecution of three ministers that served in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan over unaccounted funds from the $470million Lagos and Abuja Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) contract. They are: Alhaji Adamu Waziri, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade and Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan, including a former permanent secretary in the ministry of police affairs, James Obeigbu, served between 2010 and 2014.
The Committee also recommended that Obeigbu should be prosecuted for deliberately refusing to release N3 billion meant for network operations and maintenance, adding that ZTE Nig. Ltd, the company that was awarded the contract should refund the discrepancy amount certified after the audit exercise or supply equipment and spares of commensurate value as may be required by the ministry.