Monday, 11 June 2012

SGF Pius Anyim Accused Of N300b Contract Scam AT NDDC

Corruption in high public places in Nigeria has been a recurrent phenomenon as far as the mind can recall. The looting of public funds has increasingly become the main motivation for most of those seeking political offices and public appointments.
The latest in this saga is Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim who is allegedly believed to have benefitted from a N300 billion contract scandal currently rocking the 
Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The alleged scandal was perpetrated allegedly in collaboration with the Director General of the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, Mr. Emeka Eze. 
It is reported that before President Goodluck Jonathan, lies a petition which accused the chubby SGF and Eze of fraudulently making billions of naira from three mega projects at the NDDC.
According to Evwierhuroma Aggbagoro and Unyime Enang, both of the Niger Delta Contractors Coalition who jointly signed the petition, the BPP DG with the knowledge and approval of the SGF, gave a waiver to the current board of the NDDC to award 22 mega projects worth over N90 billion and emergency projects worth over N240 billion.
In the petition, the petitioners said, “There are no detailed or final engineering design drawings or estimates for all the projects in question. Tenders had been issued out before consultants were precipitously called to prepare quasi-Bills of Quantities and BEMEs without engineering drawings and because the agencies of the Presidency which are supposed to regulate and check these excesses have been compromised, they unduly approved of it. This is outrageous, wasteful, and fraudulent and must be stopped immediately”
Other allegations brought against the accused were: increasing the approval limit of the board of NDDC 
from N250 million to N1billion; the NDDC board members using cronies to defraud the agency of billions through phony contract awards such as awarding contracts for clearing of Water Hyacinth in the over 500 creeks of the Niger Delta. However, the irony of these Water Hyacinth contracts is that the 500 creeks in the Niger Delta Area are salt water in nature and hyacinth does not grow on salt water.
Statistics available to The Premier showed that between the inception of NDDC in 2001 and 2009, the body awarded about 5,100 projects with less than one third of them reaching completion, over 2,982 have been abandoned for lack of budgetary provision and about 300 already awarded projects completely removed from the budget, while 950 projects awarded between 2009 and October 2011were on-going. 
According to the petition, a whopping N158 billion of NDDC funds were domiciled in various banks; “as at today, the total budget cost for all the commission’s projects stand at N1.802 trillion. The NDDC has so far made commitments of N237.642 billion and the total amount approved for the 2011 budget is N243. 637 billion. Under this board, personnel expenditure increased by over 40 percent from N5.992 billion to N9.485 billion.” 
According to the petition, “It is unexplainable that in just four months, the new board has awarded 600 small ticket projects of values between N50m - N250m worth for over N90 billion and 80 mega projects worth about N240 billion. This brings the total project amount awarded to N330 billion.”  
The petition noted, “All these awards grossly fell short of the requirements of Public Procurement Acts of 2007.” 

The petitioners are therefore seeking for: (a) all emergency projects awarded between January 2012 and April 2012 be halted and investigated by Orosanye Panel, not the BPP or SGF’s office as these offices have been badly compromised on NDDC matters. The following should be properly scrutinized: methods of award of the contracts; conditions under which they were awarded and compliance to the aforementioned sections of the Procurement Act; and capacity/profile of the chosen contractors.
(b) the commission’s transactions and projects awards be thoroughly audited by a responsible auditing firm.
© investigation of the dubious methods of issuing all three tenders for a contract to a single favored or chosen contractor by the board, instead of encouraging competitive bidding be investigated and penalized.
(d) every responsible project manager in Niger Delta knows that the best time to pay contractors is just before rainy season. Over 400 contractors and 900 APG payments have deliberately been stalled, the petitioners therefore are seeking Jonathan’s reversal of this trend or risk imminent collapse of the commission.
(e) that the board should be directed to award projects based on strategic need prescribed through the recommendations of the Niger Delta Master Plan, and not by mere political patronage.

It must be said that the credibility of the present government has greatly been hampered by the spate of corruption in high public places and this brings to the fore the issue of selective justice which seems to be the mode of dispensing justice between the affluent and the common people.
The high and mighty almost always go free despite the gravity of their offences while the commoners bear the brunt of judicial vehemence.
However, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) again has a task in its hands in wading into this scandalous allegation, conduct its findings and take the appropriate action regarding criminal cases. At this point in time in the nation’s history, crime fighting agencies are what Nigerians look up to, to live up to their statutorily billing and save the nation the continued embarrassment that aiding and abetting corruption has foisted on her.

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