James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives wednesday passed a motion mandating the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the World Bank not to renew or extend the contract of the current Growth and Employment (GEM) Project Coordinator.
It further directed both ministers to immediately liaise with the Head of Service to identify a capable director and assistant director to be posted to occupy the positions respectively after the expiration of the contract of the current consultant.
The House further mandated the existing joint committee of the House Committees on Finance, Industry, debts, aids and loans to investigate the circumstances surrounding the engagement of a consultant as GEM Project Coordinator and approval of the consultantâ€™s remuneration contrary to the original plan for the management of the project.
The motion, sponsored by Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah (APC, Benue) noted the impending expiration of the one-year contract of the current GEM Project Coordinator on Thursday, February 15, 2018 and allegations that Enelamah in collaboration with the World Bank are on the verge of renewing his contract for a further term of two years even though it has cost the country about N60 million from the SME funds for the initial one year contract.
Gbillah said it would cost about N120 million for the alleged two-year extension especially when this is a position that is originally intended to be occupied by a serving director within the Federal Civil Service as there are no specialised skills a consultant provides that a capable director cannot offer- with even greater sense of commitment and responsibility considering the impending end of the GEM project in September 2018.
He, expressed worry at allegations that the renewal of the GEM project coordinatorâ€™s contract is intended to ensure the illegal diversion of $35 million from the project funds for the creation of an SME Fund proposed by the same project.
Lawmakers unanimously backed the motion, Hon. Abubakar Chika Adamu (APC, Niger) said the jobs ought to be advertised adding that appointments had been skewed to favour only a section. We need to stop this political impunity.â€
Also, Hon. Abubakar Useni Moriki (APC, Zamfara) said there had been infractions in the disbursement of funds by the project managers.
He said: â€œInstead following the terms to the letter, consultants have now been introduced. No further appointments should be made.â€