N700bn N’ Delta Contract Scandal: FG Sends EFCC, ICPC, Others After Contractors

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru

Ministry Records only 12% Project Performance, Despite Disbursing N423bn to Contractors in 6 Years… ...As Latest Revelation Confirms The New Diplomat’s Story.

By ‘Dotun Akintomide
Furious over the massive looting of funds released to the Niger Delta Ministry to execute various projects in the region between 2009 and 2015 to the tune of N700 billion, the federal government has vowed to direct anti-graft agencies to go after all the contractors and co-conspirators fingered in the mega scandal who were said to have collected money without going to site.

This follows the probe report on the activities of the Niger Delta Ministry within the period under review received yesterday by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

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According to the report, it was uncovered that despite the huge sums paid to contractors, only a dismal 12% of contract performance was recorded by the ministry, even as government now plans to recover the outstanding balance from the contractors or have them prosecuted.

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Uguru Usani, disclosed this to newsmen after the weekly FEC meeting presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja

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According to him, the revealing content of the report shows that over N423 billion has been expended in the region by the Ministry alone, excluding other intervening agencies.

“From this amount, project execution rate has been at 12 per cent, with an average completion rate of a project standing at five years and the impact rate is eight per cent.”

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Following the discovery, Usani said the ministry has demanded FEC approval to forward the probe report to anti-graft agencies for proper  prosecution of contractors and ministry officials that might have abetted them in carting away projects’ funds as alleged.

“So, today we have sought approval from Council to have the recommendations of this report conveyed to the legitimate agencies charged with the statutory responsibilities of recovering government assets that are either misappropriated, misused or found to be idling in some quarters.

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“With this, it means all those who have accessed government resources for one purpose or another must be compelled to make adequate use of same, otherwise face the recommendations that go with such violations. That is our position concerning that report and we have got Council approval for that”.

The Minister explained that the figures mean that 60 per cent of the funds appropriated for 427 contracts were paid out to contractors who only managed a 12 per cent completion rate.

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He continued: “When we say 60 per cent, it is 60 per cent of the amount of money that was actually appropriated, being N700billion. And so, 60 per cent of that constitutes N423 billion.

“So, to find that N423 billion has been expended in the region with the type of result we see obviously shows that there is something tangibly and obviously wrong with how procurement had been carried out in the Ministry”.

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On the punishment to be meted to defaulting contractors, Usani said,  “The measure of action to be taken to address the shortfall of our expectations of commitment to contractual commitments will be the determinant of what will be done. So, those that require sanctions will be sanctioned and the sanctions may not be uniform. It will also be according to the measure of liabilities owed by each of those contractors.

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“Some should be compelled to return to site. Some, of course, should be made to refund money – those who we have seen by action displaying criminal intent by collecting money and not appearing at site at all.

He also noted that officials like those of evaluation or monitoring personnel the ministry found to have connived with the defaulting contractors will be approximately dealt with, though he didn’t confirm any impending purge of officials.

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In a similar development, The New Diplomat had on Monday reported on how Kingsley Kuku, a former Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is being wanted in connection with allegations of corrupt enrichment and massive mismanagement of the Amnesty Programme funds under President Jonathan. 

Sources within EFCC told The New Diploimat that Kuku is believed to be hiding in an Island in South America and the Agency has intensified moves to track him down to answer questions in Nigeria.

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Meanwhile, on the slow pace of work on the East-West road, Usani said, the current administration has gone ahead to seek extra budgetary special loan credit from China to the tune of $500million dollars. “Now we are making a fresh application to increase that to $774million dollars to be able to tackle an aspect of that road and this came under five of the special projects nominated by the president to see that work doesn’t stop and if you look at our budget as lean as it is- about 50 per cent goes on the allocation to the east west road.

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He said in the 2017 budget, the ministry had proposed N8 billion counterpart funding for the credit facility it will be getting from China.

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