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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.