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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Tinubu fails to provide vital details of newly awarded contracts

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Last Tuesday, President Bola Tinubu’s aide, Bayo Onanuga, shared 20 projects and policies adopted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at meetings held last Monday and Tuesday. However, he did not provide specific details about some of the projects, including the names of contractors, contract amounts and the duration of the project.

Projects include the construction of roads, the installation of street lighting and the purchase of buses, all of which must normally follow a competitive bidding process as stipulated by the Public Procurement Law.

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At least 16 contracts on the list are covered by the Public Procurement Law. However, only three of these projects have listed the names of the contractors, the duration of the project and the amount of the contract, indicating a lack of transparency, which is one of the challenges that the Procurement Law was intended to solve. The other 13 projects lack at least one of these vital project details.

Mr Onanuga did not respond to our journalist’s call or messages asking him to provide details of the projects. The journalist sent him a text message and a WhatsApp message, both delivered to his phone, but he has not yet responded.

Public procurement and accountability experts expressed concern that it has become a culture that projects approved by the FEC violate the laws of the federation and lack transparency and due process.

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In separate interviews, Ijeoma Okereke-Adagba, project manager of the accountability platform UDEME, at the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) and Ayo Ladipo, director of Tracka, an accountability project BudgIT, a civic technology organization, noted that Lack of transparency is a popular challenge identified with FEC-approved projects.

Okereke-Adagba said projects approved by the FEC systematically violate laws, including the environmental impact assessment for projects that would displace people or property.

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He said the nature of the projects, often shrouded in secrecy, “makes it very difficult for CSOs to track and makes it very difficult for citizens to hold the government accountable. “It also makes it very difficult to know what contract negotiations and final decisions entail or even know how much has been released.”

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Ladipo expressed concern over the construction of the Court of Appeal building which Onanuga said was approved at a cost of N37 billion. He said N10 billion was initially budgeted for the project in the 2023 supplementary budget.

“I don’t know what procurement process allowed him to get three times what was in the supplemental budget,” he said.

However, public officials have explained in the past that the costs of large multi-year projects are often divided into different budgets depending on the availability of funds. This would mean that both the N10 billion in the 2023 supplementary budget and the N37 billion in the 2024 budget are earmarked for the same construction of the appeal court building.

Still, in the details provided, Mr. Tinubu’s assistant did not specify the duration of completion of the appeals court building or whether any component of the project cost has been deferred to later budgets.

Projects are missing vital details

PREMIUM TIMES presents below the 16 contracts awarded by the FEC, as announced by Mr. Onanuga, highlighting the missing details.

PROJECTSCONTRACTORCONTRACT AMOUNTDURATION Supply, installation and operator training of damaged aircraft recovery systems at Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.NOT PROVIDED4.2 billionNOT PROVIDED A special purpose vehicle will be created on a PPP basis to develop 90,000 kilometers of cable fiber optic to increase Nigeria’s internet connectivity by 60-70 percent.NOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDED Consulting Service for Reconciliation and Expansion of Remittances to NITDANOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDED The construction of bus terminals and other transportation facilities in the Federal Capital, Abuja. (Kugbo, Abuja Central Business District and Mabushi.)Planet Projects Nigeria Limited,51 billion15 months Kwaita-Yebu Road Upgrade in Kuala Area Council of AbujaMrs. El & Matt Nigeria Limited7.6 billion18 months The Court of Appeal Building Abuja DivisionMessrs. Visible Construction Limited.37.2 billionNOT PROVIDED Street lighting at Bill Clinton Drive, Airport Expressway (including the acquisition of 8 backup generators, which will be powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) or solar energy)NOT PROVIDED412 MillionNOT PROVIDED Customs Service Nigeria to buy 200 Toyota Land Cruiser Buffalo V6NO PROVIDED 12.5 billionNOT PROVIDED The concession to implement an income guarantee platform under PPP agreement in the lottery and gaming sector (will be done through the DFBOT option, which means Design , Financing, Construction, Operation and Transfer)Mrs Yuan Resources LimitedNOT PROVIDED15 years The reconstruction of the Iseyin-Okeho-Iganna Road in Oyo State (and various road projects)NOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDED Section 2 of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway for construction,NOT PROVIDED1.6 billionNOT PROVIDED Reconstruction of Koton-Karfe -Abaji Road (Abuja bound), along Abuja-Lokoja road in Kogi State NOT PROVIDED89 billion NOT PROVIDED Contract for equalization of Lokoja-Benin Road, Okpela Section, Lokoja-Benin, Dualized Section Auchi -Uromi Link Road and Lokoja-Benin Road, Ekpoma Section.Will be financed by BUA Cement under the tax credit scheme.120 billion NOT PROVIDED Contractors they build roads and bridges in Kaima-Tesse, Kwara State, Benin-Agbor, BeninByepass and Ngaski-Wara in Kebbi State. (4 contracts)NOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDED Construction of a 37 kilometer Kano bypass road including bridges and several flyovers.CCECC230 billion36 months Sokoto-Illela-Badagry Superhighway to join Lagos-Calabar Coastal HighwayNOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDEDNOT PROVIDEDThe experts speak

Mrs. Okereke-Adagba noted that lack of transparency and due process is one of the challenges her organization has identified in contracts approved by the FEC.

He said projects are typically approved for implementation without a competitive bidding process and without the knowledge of the Office of Public Procurement, the government arm established to vet all federal government projects.

He said the FEC routinely violates laws, including the environmental impact assessment for projects that would displace people or property.

Usually, the AFF is only contacted to provide a no-objection certificate, Mrs Okereke-Adagba said.

“One of the ways we have seen them work many times is in large projects funded by international partners. It could be by multilateral organizations, it could be by China or the United States,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

“And when this happens, we see a lot of violations occur. For example, there is no competitive bidding on awarded contracts. You would be surprised to know that contractors have already received express awards for the performance of these contracts.”

Mrs. Okereke-Adagaba noted that such actions make the entire process susceptible to corruption and poor accountability.

He added that the lack of transparency has made it very difficult for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to monitor projects and for citizens to hold the government accountable.

“It also makes it very difficult to know what contract negotiations and final decisions entail or even know how much has been released. Apart from what we hear when they come out to tell us, it will be very difficult for you to see documents that support this, when the contracts were awarded, the duration and whether the cost was revised at any point. Who are the main actors? You will find them later. Maybe in five years or maybe by then, a lot of corruption will have occurred.”

“We have worked with the AFF several times before and they are incapacitated. There is really nothing they can do except obey the order from above and FEC is very strong…. body in Nigeria. What they decide at that level is final.”

READ ALSO: Naira Crisis: Civil Society Organizations Call on Buhari to Obey Supreme Court Order

Transparency recedes

Tracka’s Ladipo said he believes transparency is going backwards under the Tinubu administration.

He said that the details of the 2024 constituency projects, as well as the budget execution report for the third and fourth quarters of 2023, have not yet been made public, a situation that he described as unusual and a regression for transparency and accountability. .

Ladipo added that details of projects awarded by the FEC are not normally made public, although they should be published on the Public Procurement Office’s website.

“But the Public Procurement Office website is not working. Since yesterday, since this week, since today, it is not functional. So you can’t even go check these details,” he said.

He added that the 2024 budget uploaded to the budget office’s website is a scanned document that is not machine readable, a situation he suspects is an attempt to frustrate civil society actors, media and citizens in their search for accountability.

“For the first time in a long time, the (2024 budget) document on the budget office website is a scanned document. It is not readable, it is not in a machine readable format. So that’s a double job for analysts. And we consider it a very mischievous attack to block attempts to block the efforts of civil society actors, media and citizens,” he stated.

“…it is just an effort aimed at frustrating the efforts of those who want to hold this government accountable and it is something we have to take as an emergency. “It is a true emergency in our hands.”

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