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Governors flout Public Procurement Act - Works Minister

By The Citizen

THE Federal Government, Tuesday, faulted the refusal of some state governors to adhere strictly to the guidelines of Public Procurement Act which explained why they (stateĀ  governments) could not be paid for the work they did on some federal roads.

The Federal Government, however, said N20 billion had been made available to pay those States that have complied with the Procurement Act.

Speaking when he appeared before the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC, Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen disclosed that ahead of the raining season, the government was on top of the situation to address any flooding that may reoccur in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital as it did last year where houses were submerged and property worth millions of naira destroyed.

Speaking on the violation of the Procurement Act of 2007 by some State governors, the Minister said, 'under the regime of late President Umaru Yar'Adua, the Federal Executive Council approved guidelines which state governments must necessarily follow to qualify for refund in project they carried out on federal roads. But what you have is that many of the state governments don't follow the guidelines and in fact, we don't even know that such intervention has taken place.

'The position of the guidelines is very simple. For instance, it says it must be done in line with provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007 because you are talking of federal roads. In procurement matter, you don't spend federal funds if they are not in compliance with Public Procurement Act. That is where some of them have their challenges.

'But I can assure you that many of them that complied will be refunded. This year alone N20billion will be paid out of the N42billion that complied with the provisions.'

According to the minister, contract for the reworking of the aspect of the road that was heavily flooded last year had been awarded, adding that in the next 90 days, it would be executed.

The minister who regretted the inability of the Federal Government to provide the adequate funds for highway projects across the country, said that the ministry requires N416billion annually to carry out the job, adding that out of the annual funding requirement, only N116billion was made as budgetary provision in 2012, leaving it with a shortfall of about N300billion.

Arc. Mike Onolememen explained that out of this budgetary provision, only N102billion or 77 percent was released with a shortfall of N31billion, adding, 'the finance of road projects has been through budgetary provisions which have been too inadequate to fund the projects and most times not fully implemented.'

The minister who told the PDP NWC members that the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, has been able to bridge the funding gap to some extent, said the ministry was exploring alternative sources of funding for the projects by borrowing from multilateral agencies and pension fund for key highways infrastructure.

He said, 'the enhanced funding from the SURE-P has helped to reduce the funding gap. The ministry is exploring alternative ways of funding highway infrastructure including annuity contracts, borrowing from multilateral agencies and pension fund for key highways infrastructure, floating of road bonds for highway projects, conventional Public Private Partnership, PPP, Finance Contracts.'

The minister who explained that the ministry prioritized projects in 2012 by reducing the number of on-going projects from 168 to 80, many of which have attained about 70 percent completion and above, stressed that these include major economic routes such as Abuja - Lokoja - Benin dualisation project, Kano - Potiskum - Maiduguri Dualisation Project, Onitsha - Enugu Expressway Rehabilitation Project, Benin - Ore - Shagamu Expressway Rehabilitation Project as well as accelerate Procurement and Break Ground on 2nd Niger Bridge and Oweto Bridge among others.

He said 'at the beginning of 2012, the Ministry had 168No. on-going road projects at various stages of completion, many of which were abandoned due to inadequate funding and management issues.

'By December 2012 the Ministry under my leadership progressed 27No. road projects to completion. 16.9% of projects have been completed, 9.6% are proposed for alternative funding under the PPP Scheme, 3.1% of projects are at Procurement Stage at the PPP department and RSDT Unit of the Ministry and 70.4% of the projects are on-going at various stages of completion.'

In his remarks, PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who charged ministers serving under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure exact implementation of government policies.

According to him, the ministers who are nominees of the party were mirrors of the PDP and if they fail in their duties as executors of the party's programmes, the party would find it difficult to face the electorate and ask them for votes during elections.

Tukur said, 'the party goes to the people to convince them and based on that, they are elected. The party appoints ministers and therefore, you are an important link between the government and the governed.

'It is our duty to see how much the Minister of Works has been doing and encourage him to do more.

'We are happy about how well you have been doing. You have done a very good work. During our inspection, we saw how much Ministry of Works has been able to do and we encourage you to do more.'