Senate Withholds Immigration Budget over ‘Bondage’ PPP Agreement

1
472

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The Senate wednesday suspended its consideration of the 2017 Appropriation of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) budget for what it termed ‘bondage’ agreements where private partners of the service get up to 70 per cent of the revenue generated from immigration related services.

The Senate constituted a technical committee comprising the Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of Interior, Judiciary and Anti-Corruption, to meet with the Minister of Interior, Attorney General of the Federation, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the NIS, with a mandate to make recommendations on how the contracts can be terminated.

The technical committee is expected to submit its report in two weeks.
The report of the Committee on Interior, noted that the NIS is disadvantaged in the sharing of the generated revenue, and the agreements should be reviewed.

For instance, private partners of the NIS engaged for services for Combined Expatriates Residents Permit and Alien Cards (CERPAC) would get 72 per cent of the projected revenue of N14.2 billion.
This would amount to N10. 25billion for the partners while the Federal government and the NIS would get N3.84 billion. The Ministry of Interior would get one per cent of the projected revenue.

Also, partners engaged for the E-Pass scheme would take away 47 per cent of the projected N892.5 million revenue amounting to N419.5 million, while FG would get N401.6 million (45 per cent) and NIS would get N62.4 million only.
Partners for ‘address verification’ would get 55 per cent of projected N715 million amounting to N393.2 million, while partners engaged for ‘non- refundable admin fees’ would get 65 per cent of projected N137.3 million amounting to N89.2 million.

In line with the Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreements, the NIS seven per cent share of the total projected revenue of N28.3 billion for 2017 amounts to N2.1 billion.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, presiding over consideration of the report, described the agreements as ridiculous.

“I am a bit baffled: what kind of agreements are these and which part of the world can you sign an agreement where the partner in the private sector is taking 72 per cent of collection? And nobody is investigating this?”

“The people in the EFCC have not gone there to go and meet the people who drafted this kind of agreement to explain the basis? This is ridiculous. Can you throw more light on why this kind of agreement can exist in our government of change? Though we inherited it, we should have upturned this agreement by now,” Saraki said.

The Chairman of the Committee on Interior, Senator Andy Uba, said the committee would investigate the circumstances of the agreements and is currently in talks with the Ministry of Justice due to the legal implications in terminating contracts.

Most of the contracts are endless, and have no termination dates, he said.

“ The shocking thing about it is that the contracts do not have direction. There is no direction, so they do whatever they like and for as many years as possible. We have called for public hearing so that we can go through this and correct it,” he disclosed.

Uba, who was appointed as the committee’s chair two weeks ago, added that the NIS is working towards full control of its operation through the NIS Technology Project, which informed the appropriation of N2.5 billion for its proposed Technology Project.

The committee on Interior in March 2017 had been mandated to investigate the contracts.

The Deputy Chairman, Senator Usman Nafada, explained that the committee was about to begin the probe when its former Chairman, Senator Thompson Sekibo, was removed by the Appeal Court.

“It is true that some of the agreements are endless; they have no duration. That is why the Immigration is now in discussion with the Ministry of Justice to see how to terminate some of these contracts,” Nafada said.

In his contribution, Senator Adeola Olamilekan, who chairs an adhoc committee investigating alleged misuse of internally generated revenue, said the contracts are ‘bondage’ for Nigeria.

He added that his committee invited one of the ‘partners’ who is based in London but refused to appear.

“At the end of the day, when you look at the sharing formula, certain amount of money goes straight to even the ministry of interior every month. What you are seeing here is just a tip of the iceberg,” he said.

“Our (committee on misuse of IGR) report has covered it already and have made recommendations to this Senate that all these contractors agreement are terminated immediately. It is an endless open agreement – it has been like this for over 10 years, if not more than that,”

“In a government of change which we have promised, by now, their agreement should have been terminated. If possible, Nigeria would have to set up necessary technology to start handling all these. There are some of these that they are operating from London and not within our country,” Olamilekan added.

  • AyoJon

    Ok oo PPP grease their palms