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Economy & Politics

Senate summons Fashola, Ahmed over contract sum variation for Second Niger Bridge, others

The House of Representatives committee on works had earlier expressed its displeasure at the slow pace of work.

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Nigeria needs N1.5 trillion within the next 3 years to fix roads - Fashola

The members of the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday summoned the Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Minister for Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, over the variation in the contract sum of the 3 key Federal Government legacy projects.

These legacy projects are the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Abuja-Kano road and the Second Niger bridge.

The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, and the Managing Director of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr Uche Orji, were also summoned by the Senate.

The summon was issued during an interactive meeting between the Senate Committee on Finance and officials of the NSIA.

READ MORE: NSIA records total comprehensive income of N36.15 billion in 2019

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These legacy projects are being funded with the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) managed by the NSIA.

The PIDF, which was established in 2018 by the Buhari administration with an initial seed funding of $650 million from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividend account at the CBN, for investment in critical road and power projects across the country.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Solomon Olamilekan, while issuing the summon to the heads of the agencies, said they are to explain the variation in the contract sum of the projects between the periods of initiation up to the time the PIDF took over the funding.

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During the meeting with members of the committee, the NSIA boss revealed that all documentation and information relating to the projects before it was handed over to his agency should be sought from the ministry of works, who had the construction contracts executed with the contractors.

Orji pointed out that the NSIA was not responsible for the accumulated debts on those projects because they preceded the establishment of the NSIA.

He said, ‘’All questions regarding the legacy debts are matters preceding our entrance. Those who were there should answer.

Going further, Orji explained that NSIA had so far, disbursed N231.8 billion, with N60.9 billion disbursements for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, N100.7 billion for the Second Niger Bridge and N70.1 billion for the Abuja-Kano Road.

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READ ALSO: COVID-19: Minister of Power instructs contractors back to site as lockdown eases

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He said the PIDF balance, which includes the recent receipt of the $311 million recovered looted asset, stood at N181.4 billion as at June 2020.

Orji also said, “We estimate that these funds will be depleted by the beginning of Q3 2021. Under the PIDF mandate, NSIA is to receive two transfers of 650 million dollars. So far, NSIA has received one of the transfers. Once the funding in Q3 2021 is expended, NSIA will either need the additional transfer or raise funding from other sources.”

READ: FG to repatriate fresh $321million Abacha loot, to be spent on road construction 

Back story: It can be recalled that the House of Representatives committee on works, over a week ago expressed its displeasure at the slow pace of work by Julius Berger in the handling of the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road projects.

They said that with the way they are going, it might be impossible to complete these projects for commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Economy & Politics

Budget proposal review of MDAs is a legislative right – Femi Gbajabiamila

Gbajabiamila has stated that the budget review on MDAs conducted by the House of Assembly is a right of the National Assembly.

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House of Reps determined to resolve ASUU issues and empower youths - Gbajabiamila , #EndSars: House of Reps to draft new Police legislation in 30 days, Speaker Gbajabiamila asks NLC to suspend strike, offers palliatives, #EndSARS: House of Representatives will do everything to deliver a policing system that works - Gbajabiamila

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, stated that the budget review on MDAs conducted by the House of Assembly is a right of the National Assembly. He added that the House of Assembly has the constitutional right to ask questions on MDA budgets.

The speaker disclosed this on Tuesday during the plenary session of the House in Abuja. The House spent most of last week grilling Ministers and Heads of MDAs over their budgets for the 2021 fiscal year.
The speaker said during the budget defence week, some MDAs Chief viewed the process as an “undue incursion”.
I have observed during the recent budget defence process that there are still some MDAs that consider the exercise of the legislative authority to review their budget proposals as an undue incursion into the management of their offices,” he said.
When the committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate convene to review the heads of expenditure contained in the Appropriation Bill, we do so in the exercise of clear and concise constitutional authority.”
He also added that budget review is an obligation of the House and that budgets need to be done on time.
It is in the best interest of our country that all parties concerned subject themselves to this process in good faith knowing that this too, is an obligation of service to our country. We will pass the budget, we will do it early and we will do it right,” he added.
The speaker revealed that the House has started process to review the Electoral Act in preparation for the 2023 elections.
“Perfecting the process through which we choose the people that will serve in government is an essential requirement for the continued development of our democracy.”

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Economy & Politics

Reps Committee warns MDAs against failure to render accounts to Auditor-General

House of Reps Committee has warned MDAs against failure to render accounts to Auditor-General of the Federation.

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SEEPCO, local content laws, CBN Cashless Policy: Reps eye policy reversal, court Emiefele approval , Lawmakers tackle Finance Minister over failed CCTV project worth $460 million , Former Ghanaian President, Mahama begs Buhari to open border Former President of Ghana, John Mahama has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to open up its borders saying that Ghana has been heavily affected by Nigeria’s decision to close its borders. Mahama said that for economic activities to resume in West Africa, Nigeria needs to reconsider its decision on the total border closure. He made this plea while delivering the seventh anniversary lecture of investiture into The Realnews Hall of Fame and the unveiling of a book, titled: Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa. According to the former president as reported in The Nation, the closure of especially the Benin border, was taking a significant toll on many small and medium businesses, especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, which relied on inter-country trade. “I am sure that businesses in Nigeria that rely on supplies from these countries are also suffering. With the signing of the joint border task force agreement between Nigeria and her neighbours, I will like to take this opportunity to appeal to Nigeria to open up her border so that economic activities can resume,” Mahama said. While reacting to the shut down of shops owned by Nigerians by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) as retaliation to the border closure, Mahama said; “Back home in Ghana, I also look forward to our government’s intervention that brings an immediate cessation to the forceful and illegal closure of shops of foreigners, especially Nigerians, by members of the local trade associations”. Mahama who is a former Chairman of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) spoke on how he still has an abiding interest in the progress of ECOWAS and its people. In this light, he said that Nigeria being the home of ECOWAS and the largest economy in West Africa should not allow the objective principles for establishment of ECOWAS to be lost. Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor of Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to yield to pressure to reopen the borders. Edoumiekumo who was also present at the lecture said President Buhari should remain firm in his resolve to ensure economic growth and the country’s development as the border closure will generate more revenue for the nation and tackle smuggling., Nigerians are enraged as lawmakers reject Innoson cars for latest Toyota Camry , FMBN ex-MD ordered to refund his salary, submit FMBN accounts over infractions

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has urged that the heads of MDAs must render their audited accounts for the fiscal year to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) and warned against non-compliance.

This was disclosed by the House Chairman of the Committee, Honourable Wole Oke, on Tuesday in Abuja. He warned MDA chiefs over their noncompliance in appearing before the House Committee during the Budget Defense period.
He added that the House would not tolerate the act anymore, citing the River Basin Development Authorities whose officers failed to appear before the House over audit queries issued by the AGF.
Mr. Oke said the House would not let such acts go on, as the accumulated accounts that had been queried ran into sums valued at billions of Naira.
“Enough of this. As lawmakers, we cannot allow this to continue. If you are put in charge of a department or an organisation, you are expected to render account,” he said.
“What are we telling Nigerians? Queries are raised and those affected have been refusing to appear before the parliament for examination.
“Is the AGF telling lies against them? We will give them just the last chance to appear; failing to do so, the committee will drag them before their employer, President Muhammadu Buhari,” he added.
He said the inquiry was not a form of intimidation as other heads of MDAs had also appeared before the Committee.
“All heads of MDAs that have been appearing before this committee can attest to this. We are giving them and others another chance to retrace their steps and submit themselves for examination before us,” he said.

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Economy & Politics

Senate approves issuance of N148bn promissory notes to Bayelsa, 4 others

Promissory notes worth N148,141,969,161.24 has been approved by the Senate as refund to Bayelsa, Cross River, Ondo, Osun and Rivers States

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Senate approves issuance of promissory notes worth N148 billion as a refund to five states

Promissory notes worth N148.141billion have been approved by the Senate as a refund to Bayelsa, Cross River, Ondo, Osun, and Rivers States for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.

The approval which was given by the Senate at the plenary on Tuesday, 24th November 2020, came after the presentation of a report by the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, led by Senator Ordia Clifford (PDP-Edo).

READ: Banks to lose interest on petrol subsidy-induced loans

According to a news report by NAN, this is a go-ahead to the Federal Government, who had sought the approval of the Senate for issuance of promissory notes for a refund on federal projects executed by State governments.

The request was contained in a letter addressed to President of Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan by President Muhammadu Buhari, and read at plenary. The Senate referred the matter to the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts for further legislative input.

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(READ MORE: FG inaugurates steering committee on Covid-19 economic recovery)

Senator Ordia Clifford, while presenting the report of the committee, said the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; Federal Commissioners of Finance and Works in the five states, had briefed the committee on details of the projects.

He said the Committee was presented with documents relating to the approvals of the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for the execution of the projects and certificates of completion, amongst other documents.

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READ: Boosting IGR; A necessity for states to avoid total dependence on FAAC allocations

At the plenary today, Senator Ordia moved the motion that the Senate approves the Committee’s recommendations by approving the issuance of the promissory notes to the State governments.

According to him, the amount due to the five states is N148.14billion.

  • Bayelsa was allotted N38.40billion
  • Cross River was allotted N18.39billion
  • Ondo was allotted N7.82billion
  • Osun was allotted N4.57billion
  • Rivers was allotted N78.95billion

What they are saying

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, disclosed that records showed PDP states had the highest refund, he said: “If you look at the list of states, only two are APC states and they have the least in terms of refund, this is fantastic and a mark of leadership by the Federal Government. This shows tolerance and leadership by this administration.”

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