The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has described the statements credited to the Bureau of Public Procurement regarding inflated contracts in the ministries spearheaded by him as misleading.
It was reported on Monday that BPP saved N26 billion for the Federal Government in 2018 alone by revising the contract sums of government contracts approved by some ministries, departments, and agencies.
BPP stated that 86 certificates of “No Objection’’ for contracts totalling N1.421 trillion were initially awarded before it was reduced to N1.394 trillion.
The highest reduction was made from the Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing where N22.22 billion was cut from a request of N877.40 billion.
Fashola, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Communications, Hakeem Bello, challenged BPP to make its rates public.
A statement issued by the minister’s aide read, “The attention of the Minister of Works and Housing has been drawn to headlines from reports credited to the BPP about ‘saving over N26 billion’ for the Federal Government in the year 2018 by revising down ‘inflated’ contract sums by government contractors, some of which emanated from the erstwhile Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing.
“Being a department of the same government, ordinarily this should not warrant a reply. However, the misleading nature of the reporting in the media and the statements credited to BPP compel a response for the purposes of clarification and enlightenment of the public.”
The Minister argued that any person who took time to read the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, which created the BPP, would understand that no contract could be awarded until BPP certified that it had “no objection.”
Fashola said, “Therefore there was no inflated contract because BPP clearly stated that it reduced the costs, and according to BPP, she ‘saved over N26 billion.’
“And this is the heart of the matter because BPP’s ‘savings’ can only be a subjective assessment based on rates quoted by contractors, reviewed by the ministry and sent to BPP for certification.”
He added, “Until BPP publishes its rates which the then Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has demanded in writing, there can be no objective basis for determining whether any savings were indeed made if only BPP knows its own rates for procurement.”
The minister stressed that once rates were published and design was known, quantities could be ascertained and costs could be determined.
“This is the field of quantity surveyors and construction economists, and the Minister of Works and Housing has not made any secret about his call for a revision of the Public Procurement Act to resolve this and other gaps in the law,” Fashola stated.
He stated that during the first term of the current administration, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had commissioned the compilation of a service wide rate of major items of procurement from the largest to the smallest for the BPP to consider, adopt or amend and publish.
FG approves N8.49billion to procure COVID-19 testing Kits, others
The fund is to procure 12 items in various quantities to strengthen the testing for COVID-19.
The federal government has approved N8.49 billion to procure 12 items in various quantities to strengthen the testing for COVID-19 by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The approval was given during the 11th virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
The approval was based on a memorandum presented to the council by the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.
He was joined at the post-FEC press briefing by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and the Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmood.
He explained that the approval was made to further equip the NCDC to respond appropriately to the community transmission phase of the pandemic.
COVID-19: Russia to start mass inoculation of vaccine this month as it insists on its safety
The vaccine is said to be undergoing Phase 3 trials, which is the final stage.
Russia has announced that it was going to start mass vaccination of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine this month before the completion of clinical testing. This is just as it waved off concerns by the international community and some scientists about the safety of the vaccine.
These views were made known by the Russian Health Minister, Mikhail Murashko, on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, during a press briefing.
The Health Minister in his statement said, ‘’Western colleagues, who can sense the competitive advantage of the Russian drug, are trying to express some opinions that are completely unjustified in our view. This vaccine is a platform that is already well-known and studied,” he said, adding that other countries have developed antidotes under accelerated testing programs.’’
Murashko also said that the authorities plan to start inoculating medical workers and other risk groups within 2 weeks on a voluntary basis while pointing out that the vaccine will be made available to the general public from October.
Nairametrics had reported yesterday that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in a televised meeting, announced that Russia has registered the first COVID-19 vaccine in what they see as a propaganda coup amid the global race for the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease.
This announcement has raised a lot of international concerns with the German Health Minister, Jens Spahn, saying on Wednesday, that Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine has not been sufficiently tested, adding that the aim was to have a safe product rather than just being first to start vaccinating people.
He said in a radio chat that it’s not about being first but rather about having an effective, tested and safe vaccine.
Experts have expressed their concerns over Russia’s decision to grant approval before the final trials of the vaccine have been completed.
He said that as much as he will be pleased to have a good vaccine for the virus, he pointed out that the Russians are not disclosing much about this vaccine.
This vaccine which is developed by Gamaleya Institute in collaboration with the Defence Ministry and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), is said to be undergoing Phase 3 trials, which is the final stage.
However, a World Health Organization (WHO) database still lists the vaccine as still only in Phase 1 trial, which is the earliest stage.
The RDIF said that it can produce over 500 million doses of the new vaccine in a year in 5 countries, just as it disclosed that a minimum of 20 countries are currently interested in having access to these vaccines.
The WHO had earlier revealed that it is currently discussing with Russia and pointed out that in granting prequalification of the vaccine, a detailed review of data from clinical trials will be required.
FG completes 11 projects to drive Digital Economy
The government has been pushing the Digital Economy in a bid to diversify economic productivity.
The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy announced that it has completed 11 projects to drive its Digital Economy programme.
This was announced by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, during the phase 2 commissioning of Nigeria’s Digital Economy drive.
The Nigerian Government has been pushing the Digital Economy in a bid to create growth and diversify economic productivity in the nation, starting with the Digital Economy drive which was added to the portfolio of the Ministry of Communications.
Nairametrics reported last month that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) also approved the creation of a Digital Economy Department, which will be responsible for promoting the digital economic agenda of the federal government. The department will renew the commission’s strategy for delivering its programmes and policies, and give the necessary push to promote the national digital economy.
The projects were launched with the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and would be operated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST ) and The Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) and would be located nationwide.
The 11 projects are:
- Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) llorin, Kwara State.
- Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) Calabar, Cross River State.
- School Knowledge Centre (SKC), Gombe State.
- Information Technology Innovation Centre, Kogi State.
- Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centre (TIKC), Delta State.
- New Neighborhood Post Office, Delta State.
- Remodelled National Mail Exchange Centre, Bayelsa State.
- e-Health/Data Sharing Centre, Bauchi State.
- Virtual Examination Centre, Borno State.
- Information Technology Capacity Building Centre, Jigawa State.
- Information Technology Capacity Building Centre, Imo State.