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REPS QUERY N25BN SPENT ON MDGS PROJECTS

By NBF News
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House of Representatives yesterday questioned the sum of N25 billion spent as consultancy from the N54 billion earmarked for the execution of projects under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the Presidency in the Appropriation Acts of 2008 and 2009.

The N54 billion was earmarked for the execution of constituency projects nominated by members of the National Assembly.

Scrutinising the document presented by Precious Gbenol, Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs to the Committee, members kicked against the poor implementation and shabby work done by the contractors.

Mr. Rasaq Bello-Osagie, frowned at the abysmal implementation of the constituency projects, described the MDGs office as 'a terrain that has a lot of potholes.'

He pointed out that the essence of the programme designed by world leaders to extend certain privileges to underdeveloped countries had been destroyed by the ways and manners MDG office managed the projects.

As a platform to act as an interventionist agency, the projects were designed to support the efforts of government worldwide.

'I have looked at the summary of the payment commitment for 2008, 2009 as computed by you. I'm however worried that if you struck a total of 5,000 contracts, distributed nationwide and the total exposure came to over N54 billion, it doesn't matter to me whether it is N10 billion or N50 billion.

'My concern is taking the holistic assessment from the point of view of somebody with financial background, that out of N54 billion that was committed to projects, for 2008, 2009, over N25 billion was committed to consultancy services, renting and management of warehouse. I think without being judgmental, one is tempted to see some criminality arrangements.

Perusing the books, he noted that 'what we see here very clearly is a situation where you make commitment to contractors for instance to supply some materials, they may be drugs and some other items, but without those buildings being completed, you get into an arrangement where (not you now, I'm talking about the system)…

'It is good that we read the Riot Act, so that we know that we are looking at the overview of what happened in the past, but what we are trying to do is not about lamentation, but where are we coming from, where are we now and where do we want to be. I think that is the challenge.

'I do not see any reason, why I should commit N5 million to things that are unrelated to the structure itself worth N10 million. You are committing over N25 billion out of N54 billion to renting of warehouses. What I see is that civil servants have a way of creating some sub-heads, management of warehouses, renting of warehouses, consultancy, is gulping about 50 per cent, I think this is scandalous, I don't want to be judgmental, but I think it's something we are all concerned about. May be you have some responses, you may need to do that, but we are very worried, and I think it is unacceptable.'

Mr. Joseph Kigbo stressed the need for synergy between the MDGs office and relevant agencies including Primary Health Care (PHC); Federal Ministry of Health; Midwives Service Scheme among others, in order to ensure successful implementation of the projects and ensure availability of manpower.