Senate to Investigate NPA’s $3bn Expenditure in JVCs

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  • East-West road contract Goje urges Fashola to resign if overwhelmed by portfolio

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The Senate wednesday mandated its Committee on Marine Transport to investigate an alleged expenditure of $3 billion by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) in a public private partnership (PPP) with some joint venture companies (JVCs).

The committee is also expected to investigate the dredging activities, books and records of the NPA and the JVCs.

The companies are Lagos Channel Management (LCM) Limited, Bonny Channel Company (BCM) Limited and Calabar Channel Management Company (CCMC) Limited.

The resolution of the Senate followed a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central) who accused the NPA of monumental financial recklessness and economic waste.

Omo-Agege expressed worry that although the companies were conceived to reduce financial burdens on the federal government, the NPA has spent over $1billion and $2billion on LCM and NCC respectively from 2005 to date.

In spite of the expenditure, significant dredging is yet to commence on the Calabar channel, notwithstanding that it is an economic gateway to the North central and North-east geopolitical zones of the country, Omo-Agege said.

“In continuation of NPA’s manifestly questionable and reckless financial commitments, LCM and BCM, through the NPA, have respectively requested for the sums of N23billion and N20billion in the NPA’s 2017 budget.”

“The NPA has failed, refused and or neglected to ensure the JVCs’ compliance with the Marine Environment (Sea Dumping) Regulations, 2012, made pursuant to the Merchant Shipping Act, 2007; the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matters 1972 otherwise called the ‘London Dumping Convention’ and the 1996 Protocol to the London Dumping Convention,” he said.

These contraventions, Omo-Agege observed, were because there are no dump sites for the management of hazardous dredged wastes removed from the Lagos, Bonny and Calabar navigation channels, thereby leading to sustained severe pollution of the country’s marine ecosystem.
“In spite of the so far unjustified huge financial commitment of the NPA to these supposed PPP joint ventures, empirical facts, evidence and data, including current Admiralty Charts from Lloyds of London, clearly confirm that the depth profiles of the channels, particularly the Lagos and Bonny channels, remained significantly the same at 13 metres between 2005 and 2016, notwithstanding the purported claims of daily maintenance dredging of the channels by the JVs- a curious situation which should not be no matter any form of siltation,” Omo-Agege added.

The Senate yesterday also resolved to probe the circumstances leading to the non-completion of the East-West Road, 11 years after the contract was awarded.

The development, the Senate observed, was worrisome as the road is a major one which links multi-billion naira investments and multi-national infrastructure.

It therefore urged the Ministry of Niger Delta to ensure the completion of the road within the 2017 budget year.
Senator George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East) moved a motion on the need for the completion of the road with contract sum of N726 billion.

Sekibo lamented that the road, which was an outcome of negotiations with the agitating Niger Delta youths, still suffers neglect and disdain by the government.

“Particularly more worried about the section that links Aba road to Onne road junction in Rivers State, which links other parts of the country to multi-billion, multi-national investments via Port Harcourt Refinery 1, Port Harcourt Refinery 2, Indorama Petrochemicals, Notoire Fertilizer Company, Federal Ocean Terminal 1 and 2, Onne/Ikpokiri Oil and Gas Free Zone and Nigeria Naval College,” he said.

The senator added that due to the concentration of the economic establishments, thousands of trailers, tankers and other heavy duty machineries ply the road on a daily basis for evacuation of products.

In another development, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, has urged the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to resign his appointment if he is overwhelmed by his responsibilities.

He said this in response to criticisms by Fashola who accused the lawmakers of slashing the proposed appropriation for critical infrastructural in the 2017 budget, a development which he said would stall the completion of such projects.

Goje, raising a point of personal explanation at plenary yesterday, expressed satisfaction that the House of Representatives has already summoned Fashola over what he (Goje) described as misleading comments.

“I will like to seize this opportunity to advise the minister that he should remember that he is now a minister and should behave like a minister. He is not a governor anymore and this National Assembly is not Lagos State House of Assembly. This is an assembly composed of very patriotic Nigerians, very experienced Nigerians; many had done his job and many were governors before him.

“If the job is too much for him – the ministry is too big; it comprises three ministries, which are works, housing and power; if he cannot adjust, then he should do the honourable thing. He should so the needful. No amount of blackmail by him; no amount of propaganda by him or his surrogates will stop this National Assembly from discharging its duties in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

“For now, I will cease fire and watch to see how the House will handle him. If he is well handled there, we will leave him with them. But if we are not satisfied and they pass him to us, then, we will take him over,” he added.

Commenting on the matter, Senate President Bukola Saraki urged members of the cabinet to consider issues in the interest of all Nigerians.

“I am happy that the House of Representatives are also taking up this issue. It is a matter that we must be responsible, especially those at the cabinet, to look at issues from a national point of view in the interest of all Nigerians,” Saraki said.
He added that the Senate would await the outcome of the minister’s summon by the House of Representatives before “further contributions.”