For an administration that in the past five years tended to look at critical national issues in bewildered stupefaction, the recent strings of energetic display of presidential action would come to many as a surprise.

This is particularly true when it is considered that the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration expires in just over a week. Unfortunately, such bursts of presidential energy have been wrongly directed. In a matter of weeks, the Federal Executive Council, over which Jonathan presides, has awarded contracts with huge financial implications that will surely hobble the incoming Read More →

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Press Release


The All Progressives Congress has accused the Jonathan Administration of plotting to hinder a smooth handover of power on May 29.Mohammed

The APC said it was becoming apparent that the administration will not fully cooperate with the incoming government, despite its public posturing in that regard.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party also described as an act of hostility and a patently-misplaced aggression the “unnecessary Read More →

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By Ben Agande


Abuja — A disagreement has broken out between the transition committees of outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan and the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) as the President accused the Buhari team of acting like a parallel government and trying to stampede the Jonathan administration out of office.jonathan-buhari

Addressing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting, yesterday, Minister of National Planning who is also a member of the Jonathan Transition Committee, Abubakar Suleiman, said the Buhari transition team was making impossible demands from the government. Read More →

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by Ifeanyi Onuba

 


President Goodluck Jonathan has awarded contracts worth N927bn in ten months of his 13 months presidency, a SUNDAY PUNCH investigation has revealed.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan | credits: File copy

The contract figures are contained in a document entitled: Federal Executive Council Approved Contract, exclusively obtained in Abuja, that details contract awards within the period under investigation.

A rash of contract awards in the past, especially during the eight-year presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, culminated in the execution of 11,886 projects across the country, most of which were declared abandoned by a presidential panel, headed by Alhaji Ibrahim Bunu in 2011.

Findings showed that the N927bn contracts were awarded by the Federal Executive Council between August 10, 2011 and June 13, 2012.

In February, the Senate had questioned the legality of contracts awarded by Federal Executive Council.

According to the upper legislative chambers, FEC’s action was “sheer illegality” as it usurped the powers of the National Council on Public Procurement, established by an Act in 2007.

Deeply concerned about abandoned projects, scarcity of funds, contract abuses by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu, hinted two weeks ago that new projects might be outlawed in the 2013 budget.

An analysis of Jonathan administration’s contracts revealed that N470bn worth of contracts was awarded in November 2011, the highest in any given month.

Other 2011 contracts were the N10.76bn awarded in August 2011; September had N72.89bn; October N94.97bn; and December N128.34bn.

In 2012, January contract award was N27.23bn; February N16.62bn, April N74.47bn, and May N30.40bn.

Of the total contracts awarded, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs with a contract of about N246bn got a huge chunk of the amount.

The N246bn contract, awarded to Setraco Nigeria Limited on August 10 2011, has 28 months completion period.

According to the document, the contract is meant for the construction of sections 1 and 2 of the East-West road spanning Warri, Rivers and Bayelsa.

Similarly, the Ministry of Works, within the period under review, awarded contracts for three major projects worth N144bn, while the Federal Capital Territory Administration awarded N70.2bn contract.

The N144bn contract is for the dualisation of the Abuja-Lokoja road, which the FEC approved on September 28, and awarded to Dantata and Sawoe and other firms.

Section III of the dualisation of the same road was awarded by FEC on November 23 to two construction firms for N56.8bn.

The firms are Bulletin Construction Limited (N28.5bn) and Gitto Nigeria Limited (N31.09bn).

The Oju/Loko Bridge project in Nassarawa State, which cost N36bn, was awarded to Raynolds Construction. It has a completion period of 48 months.

For the FCTA, the provisions of infrastructure at Kubwa and Karshi would gulp N42bn and N28.2bn respectively.

Both contracts were awarded to SCC Nigeria Limited and had a completion period of 24 months and 20 months respectively.

However, some of these new contracts have raised concerns that deal with funding, capacity of government officials in ensuring the execution of capital projects and delays in execution, which culminate in requests for variations in the contract value.

Bunu in his report had noted, “We take no joy in confirming that there is indeed evidence of large scale, widespread institutional mediocrity, deficiency of vision and a lack of direction in project management, which result in poor conceptualisation, poor design and faulty execution.

“It is needless to add that, this has resulted in avoidable losses of billions of Naira to the Federal Government.”

The Director-General of Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr. Emeka Eze, had declared at a forum in May 2012, that his agency had slashed N313bn from strict verifications of MDAs project proposals, since it was established.

“The sum of N313bn has been saved by the Bureau of Public Procurement for the Federal Government since the implementation of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 began,” Eze said.

The savings are the difference often evaluated by the BPP between project proposals from MDAs and final approvals from it.

Similarly, Okogu, in an interactive session with members of Civil Society Organisation a fortnight ago, said no new projects would be carried out in 2013 fiscal year, given the high number of ongoing projects, and the N7tn needed to complete them.

He had said, “The fiscal consolidation efforts would be sustained because there is need for prudence in the management of public financial resources.

“Given resource constraints, we have proposed a strategy in allocating capital vote and no new project will be allowed in the 2013 budget.

“Some MDAs with large debts may not receive capital votes as their allocation will be used to pay off their debt.

“There are about 6,300 projects that are presently ongoing nationwide and we need about N7trn to finish these and you really cannot run a fiscal system in this manner.”

This development has also raised concerns in the National Assembly.

The House of Representatives had last month, asked the FG to submit to it a copy of the “the Bunu-led committee report on abandoned projects.”

The lower legislative chambers made the request pursuant to a motion seeking to verify capital projects executed by the MDAs.

Consequently, the House directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, to produce the report.

According to the House, in spite of “Trillions of Naira” appropriated for capital projects since 1999, there was no evidence that the funds were used judiciously.

It, therefore, directed its standing committees to “provide a detailed report of all ongoing projects of MDAs in their purview in preparation for the 2013 Appropriation Bill” within 60 days.

The Deputy Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the MDAs were “conduits” for siphoning public funds because they hardly implemented capital projects meant to serve the majority of Nigerians.

Besides the parliament, the Citizens Wealth Platform, a group of Non-Governmental Organisation, has faulted the large number of uncompleted projects across the country.

In a memorandum the NGO sent to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on July 11, it alleged that most of the projects were awarded without detailed designs, and feasibility studies.

The memo, which our correspondent obtained exclusively, read, “Even with the little resources available for capital expenditure, the budget is suffused with thousands of projects, which available resources cannot pay for in the medium term. This has led to so many abandoned and uncompleted projects.

“Projects under the ministry of works clearly illustrate this anomalous situation.

“For 2013, there should be a moratorium on new projects and the focus should be on completing projects that will contribute most to government’s policy of poverty reduction, economic growth and improving industrial capacity utilisation.

“In the past, new projects have been admitted into the budget without detailed designs, drawings, specifications and feasibility studies.

“Votes for construction were included in the budget without acquisition of land or compensation to communities.”

 

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AFTER 92 days away from his seat, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua sprung a surprise and arrived Abuja early this morning. He had spent the last three months seeking medical treatment in Saudi Arabia and causing a constitutional crisis at home. He arrived in an air ambulance at about 2.00 a.m and drove in a long convoy to the State House, Aso Rock.

Soldiers and other securitymen drove away newsmen who had mounted vigil at the airport and along the route.

Yar’Adua had left Jeddah airport in the evening of Tuesday in an air ambulance with doctors while another plane carried his family members.

A delegation of Nigerian ministers went to Saudi Arabia on Monday reportedly for more news on the president’s health and had been expected to report back to the Federal Executive Council meeting today.

There was no information on the state of the president’s health yesterday. No details have been given on his condition since he left Nigeria in late November to receive medical treatment for pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart that can restrict normal beating.

Yar’Adua’s long absence created a constitutional crisis and prompted protests by Nigerians with some demanding his resignation, especially since he failed to fulfill the constitutional requirement of transmitting a letter to the National Assembly informing it of his absence and empowering his vice president to act in his stead.

The situation threatened to paralyse the government until the National Assembly installed Vice President, as acting president on February 9.

Signs that the President was coming home became obvious in Abuja yesterday as security surveillance was increased at the airport.

Some governors who were in the capital for one event or the other, especially the Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference changed their itinerary by staying back in the capital city instead of returning to their states. A few actually called on their colleagues who were not in Abuja to come over to the federal capital.

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By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor,  Ben Agande:

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan will be facing, later this week, what may be termed the first real test of his tenure when the Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by him, is due to receive and act on the report of the committee it raised last week to go to Jeddah with a view to assessing the condition of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua.

The delegation of six is made up of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed and five ministers – Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (Justice); Alhaji Abba Ruma (Agriculture); Chief Ojo Maduekwe (Foreign Affairs); Professor Babatunde Osotimehin (Health) and Dr. Rilwan Lukman (Petroleum Resources).

They are scheduled to depart today and return in time to be able to report back to the cabinet at its next meeting on Wednesday.

Presidency sources hinted Sunday Vanguard, last night, that the committee’s report would largely chart the path to be followed in the days ahead by Dr. Jonathan.

“If the feedback from Jeddah suggests that the acting President can take certain actions that would not be reversed later, we can reasonably expect that far reaching decisions can begin to be taken.

“But if not, then caution will be the watchword”, one source said.

One of the steps that may be taken in the next few days, depending on the report from Saudi Arabia, is another round of cabinet reshuffle “for effective delivery of good governance”.

“We are fast approaching an election year and Jonathan wants to go on record as having delivered. So the report will definitely shape his tenure.

“He (Jonathan) wants to be sure he is on a firm ground before taking certain actions otherwise events in future may prove him to have acted hastily, hence the report of the committee is critical to whatever the man will do”.

In his first day as acting President, Dr. Jonathan demoted the then Attorney-General / Justice Minister, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) to Special Duties Minister; while the Labour Minister, Prince Kayode (SAN) was moved to the Ministry of Justice; and Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure, formerly Minister of Special Duties became Labour Minister.

* Cold war in Presidency
Meanwhile, a cold war is brewing between aides to President Umaru Yar’Adua and those of acting President Goodluck Jonathan, frustrating his (Jonathan’s) initiative to forestall any such development.

The acting President had mandated his Principal Secretary, Mr. Mike Ogiadhome to convene a meeting of presidential aides with a view to working together as a unit.

The first meeting took place on Friday, February 12, and further deliberation was fixed for Monday, February 15.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that the second meeting was stalemated after some of President Yar’Adua’s aides insisted on functioning in their current positions.

The effect is that those of Dr. Jonathan with similar functions will become redundant.

A source who was privy to the meeting said ‘the essence of the meeting was to solicit the support of the aides of the President so that the Vice President can succeed. The Vice President believes that since he is acting for the President, it was important for all the staff of the presidency to act in one accord. But some of the president’s aides felt otherwise’

Some of the President’s aides, were said to be unhappy with the way the Acting president has been running the office since he assumed office in that capacity.

One of them said: `immediately after the National Assembly passed the resolution making Dr Jonathan acting President, the paraphernalia of the president’s office such as the national flag and the flags of the armed forces were moved to his office without telling the aides of the president. Why the hurry?’

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