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Group petitions ICPC over Fashola’s silence on alleged N166bn contracts

After several efforts to get clear answers to questions posed, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices (and other related offences) Commission (ICPC) to commence investigation on issues around the Bureau of Public Procurement’s query to the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, over the award of contracts worth N166 billion.

The petition forwarded to the anti-graft commission and signed by CSNAC’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, averred that the key issue in the query to Fashola was in respect of purported violation of the laws guiding contract awards in Nigeria.

Another angle of worry to the group was the manner Fashola used in picking contractors for the projects.

In the said petition, issues were raised by the BPP as to why the costs of some of the projects were inflated and why some were awarded to unqualified firms in an uncompetitive manner.

Our correspondent further gathered that CSNAC was seconding an initial move made by an online newspaper, Premium Times, on January 25, 2017, where some issues surrounding the BPP’s query of the Minister of Works, Power & Housing, Babatunde Fashola, over the award of roads and bridges contract worth over N166 billion were revealed.

The petition said in parts; “The projects are the rehabilitation of Numan-Jalingo Road awarded to Deux Projects Ltd for N11.7 billion; replacement of substandard bridges along Gusau-Sokoto Road awarded to Triacta Nig. Ltd (N1.01 billion); construction of Ojutu Bridge in Ilobu, Osun State awarded to Halicass Integrated Ltd (N522.2 million); the construction of Ohan-Moro Bridge on Ilorin-Igbeti Road awarded to Bonus Nig. Ltd (N942.6 million); and rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna Road awarded to CGC Nig. Ltd (N26.9 billion).

“Others are rehabilitation of Kaduna-Zaria Road in Katsina State awarded to Arab Contractors Nig. Ltd for N14.8 billion; rehabilitation of Zaria-Kano Road in Kaduna/Kano State awarded to Reynold Construction Nig. Ltd (N69.9 billion); and the construction of Burga-Dull-Mbatill-Tadnum-Gpbiya-Badagari-Gwaranga-Sum, Bauchi State awarded to Rahama Civil Works Nig. Ltd (N10.9 billion).

“The construction of Tudun Wuss-Wandi-Wandi-Baraza-Durr-Zumbul-Polchi-Dot-Kwanar Road, Bauchi State awarded to Dalum Construction Nig. at N12.2 billion and the construction of Pankshin-Tapshin-Gambar-Sara-Kai-Gindiri Road in Plateau State awarded to Metropolitan Construction Company Limited at N15.3 billion are also among the contracts slated for award by the ministry.”

According to the Civil Society group,  Fashola had, in a letter dated November 7, 2016, requested the Bureau to issue it Due Process Certificate of “No Objection” for the award of the 10 contracts and that the ministry had earlier in June advertised the projects in some national newspapers as well as the Federal Tenders Journal edition of Monday May 30- June 10, 2016.

Also the minister added that “On July 25, 2016, the pre-qualification documents were opened in the Conference Room of the ministry in the presence of representatives of prospective contractors, non-governmental organisations, the Nigeria Society of Engineers and some member of the public as well as officials of the ministry”.

“In line with Part V, Clause 22, Section 4 of the Pubic Procurement Act (PPA) 2007, the Permanent Secretary/Chairman of the Ministerial Tenders Board constituted a Technical Evaluation Committee to evaluate the tenders received from prospective contractors. The contractors successful in the technical evaluation exercise were “provisionally prequalified”, with their documents forwarded to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and banks for verification, following which they were subsequently invited to submit completed financial tender documents.

However, the Minister agreed that “the BPP objected to the award of the contracts citing various violations of the PPA Act, insisting that it would not grant the ministry due process certificate until its concerns were adequately addressed”.

Other serious issues observed by PPA included “No evidence that feasibility and financial/economic studies were conducted during projects’ preparation”.

“Failure to prepare or submit Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Due Process Review of the projects and failure to submit the technical bids for the companies that participated in the pre-qualification exercise, among others.”

CSNAC petition may have stemmed from the observed non resolution of the concerns and the fact that failure to comply with specified laws and provisions of the Bureau of Public Procurement may likely be an undertone of some corrupt practices in the procurement process, “that we are requesting that you use your good offices to investigate the above especially against the backdrop of the allegations of inflation of project sums.

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