N70bn abandoned projects: Accountant General’s report indict 626 contractors

•As pressure mount for dissolution of Ad-hoc Committee probing NDDC projects

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila is under intense pressure to stop an ongoing investigation into the abandoned developmental projects across Niger Delta geopolitical zone, Tribune Online gathered on Monday.

Sources close to the Speaker’s office but do not want their names in print, affirmed the lobbyists urged the Speaker to dissolve the Ad-hoc Committee with the view to shield the identities of the promoters of companies involved in the multi-billion naira contracts.

“I can confirm to you that the work of this committee has sent jitters to most of the contractors and companies that either collected payments without going to site or those who collected and later abandoned the sites and they are running helter-skelter trying to use some people in the House to influence the House leadership to dissolve the Ad-hoc Committee.

“We have heard rumours like this. But I know who the Hon. Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila is; he will not listen to anybody that comes with such a complain.

“So we are not bothered. We are doing our job and we have told the Chairman not to be shaken but to remain resolute and I can assure you, we will get to the root of this rot.

“It is a shame that a commission that was established to redress the injustice done to the Niger Delta region is being turned into a bazaar for sharing contracts and not executing them.

“All Niger Delta indigenes involved in this shameful and criminal acts should bow their heads in shame,” the lawmaker who spoke under condition of anonymity stressed.

According to an audit report conducted by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) obtained by our correspondent, showed that 1,723 contractors who collected a whooping sum of N70.496 billion between 2000 and 2019 failed to mobilize to sites.

The report further revealed that “90 per cent of these contracts were awarded between 2011 and 2012.

“It need to be strengthened that some of these contractors have three to four jobs with their mobilization payments without reporting to site.

“One can, therefore, imagine why the region is not developed, when a developmental programme is being awarded as contract to be completed within six months and the contractor would collect mobilization without reporting to site.

“The report above excluded those contractors that collected mobilization and reported to the site but with insignificant achievement before abandoning the projects. This equally excluded those in which the commission has declared their projects as stalled.

“It is a common practice for the commission’s contractors to collect mobilization and refuse to move to site. The blame for this should not only go to the contractors but equally to the management of NDDC, who awarded contracts that were not in existence, that is contracts without identification of the site, resulting to non-reporting to site by the contractor.

“Beside the above, it was also observed that about 50 per cent of the contractors who claimed they have executed their various contracts specifications and completed with supporting engineers valuation certificate were later found out by the team that some merely collected money for work not executed,” the Accountant General’s report stated.

The Accountant General also recommended that: “the unearned payment of N458,821,440 over and above the value of work done before the contract was completely abandoned/terminated should be recovered from the contractors which the banks that guarantee the unreceived element of the mobilization in respect of the contract should be held responsible and the contractor blacklisted.”

Details of the N61.468 billion abandoned contracts located in the 9 oil-producing states showed: Projects worth N2.027 billion mobilization fee was paid for 32 projects in Abia State out of N17.641 billion contract.

In Akwa Ibom state, the sum of N4.229 billion was paid as mobilisation fee out of N31.681 billion contract for 64 projects.

In Bayelsa state, the sum of N4.970 billion was paid as mobilisation fee out of N27.647 billion contracts for 80 projects.

In the same vein, in Cross River state, the sum of N2.065 billion mobilisation fee was paid out of N13.451 billion for 29 projects.

The NDDC management also paid the sum of N7.836 billion as mobilisation fee out of N31.765 billion for 99 projects in Delta State.

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In Edo state, N2.065 billion was paid as mobilisation fee out of N13.927 billion for 51 projects.

The Commission also paid the sum of N1.859 billion as mobilisation fee out N13.184 billion for 33 projects in Imo State.

The sum of N6.173 billion was paid as mobilisation fee out of N29.977 billion for 50 projects in Ondo State.

Within the period under review, the Commission paid N13.146 billion as mobilisation fee out of N56.717 billion for 106 projects in Rivers State.

In its findings, the office of the Accountant General of the Federation “observed that so many contractors were paid the mobilization fees to enable them to commence the execution of the projects awarded to them.

“Contrary to the contract terms and the agreements, some of the contractors bolted away after the collection of the mobilization fees.

“The surprising aspect of it was that this practice involved 626 contractors in which the sum of N61,468,160,743.03 was lost to this fraudulent practices,” the report read in part.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele is expected to appear before Ad-hoc Committee chaired by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai on Thursday.

Other stakeholders summoned by the Ad-hoc during the opening of the investigative hearing including former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, and past Managing Director and Director of NDDC are expected to appear before Ad-hoc Committee this week.

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