•Audit committee uncovers 90% uncompleted projects
•Minister says FG may recover huge unaccounted funds
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
A total of N700,538,741691.30 budgeted for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs between 2009 and 2015 with 60 per cent disbursement, has yielded only eight per cent impact in the region, a development that may have continued to ignite the seemingly unending violent agitations by youths in the area.
A Technical Audit Committee set up by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, which turned in its report yesterday, said the total cost of projects within the period was N700,538,741,691.30, excluding services (security, rent and facility management).
According to the committee headed by Yerima Bulama, a cumulative sum of N446,421,385,864.41 was certified for payment but N423,172,256,347.84 was paid, leaving an outstanding of N32,111,887,779.32.
In other words, between 2009 and 2015, about 60 per cent of 425 projects awarded were paid for, but approximately 40 per cent of work was practically achieved, the report said
The Bulama committee said there was evidence of repetition of programmes and conflict of projects in the region by the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, state and local governments.
It reported a violation of contract award process right from the cycle of procurement planning to contract award as inconsistencies with the provisions of vital aspects of the Procurement Act were rife.
It also found out cases of indiscriminate award of contract by initiating and benefiting departments without the leading and guiding role of the procurement department. Contract awards also never took cognisance of availability of funds and annual appropriation provisions, the report said, adding that the structure and content of some contract agreements were loose for checks and balances, and hardly protected the interest of the ministry in case of disputes.
On delivery and capacity, the Bulama committee noted that the imminent picture of abandoned and uncompleted projects was as disturbing as the retinue of projects that extremely exceeded the dates of completion.
“This manifestly emanated from inconsistency in government annual budgetary provision and lack of capacity to deliver especially where funds released do not correspond with performance. Most contracts were awarded with specific dates of completion but were not captured in subsequent appropriations.
“This further exacerbated contractors’ poor performance and inability to achieve project objectives.
Consequently, no capital project was completed within the stipulated time frame,” the report said.
It added that it was obviously revealing that the ministry and its consultants alike had neither well-structured nor coordinated monitoring nor evaluation (M&E) mechanisms, which ought to have been pre-scheduled and followed tenaciously.
“In some cases, Engineers Representatives (ER) and the consultants as well as the Planning, Research and Statistics Department (PRSD) have broad discrepancies in performance, certification, dimension and quality of delivery. As a matter of fact, the ministry’s state coordinators had little or no knowledge of projects scopes and locations.
“Cost and performance: Generally, the cost of projects in the ministry were relatively higher than those obtained in other establishments, like the (NDDC) which also operate in the same region. One which calls for serious scrutiny is the cost of roads. For instance, there was no standard to determine the cost of a kilometer in a two-lane, three-lane or four-lane roads,” it said.