By Emma Okonji
The Minister of Communications, Dr. Adebayo Shittu has said no project in 2018, whose funds were released by the Ministry of Communications, were abandoned for any reason, contrary to speculations that the ministry abandoned 104 projects captured in last year’s budget.
In a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Minister on Media, Mr. Bolaji Kazeem, the minister insisted that contracts were not abandoned, while describing the speculations as untrue and unfortunate.
According to the statement, “The fact of the matter is that contracts award/execution were delayed by the Minister of Communications to address petitions from participants in the procurement process which have saved the federal government the sum of N600 million from review committee set up by the minister.
“The Ministry of Communications has executed projects approved by the National Assembly based on the funds made available to it and has not abandoned any 104 projects in 2018.
“It is on record that budget approval was delayed for about seven months in 2018, which cascaded into the budget implementation of every Ministry/Departments/Agencies (MDAs) in 2018.”
The statement further said; “As we are all aware, the process of procurement has laid down rules and regulations which has nine essential steps such as procurement plan, adequate appropriation, advertisement, transparent pre-qualification, tender, bid submission/opening, bid evaluation, tender board approval and contract award/execution/ project implementation which have to be adhered to strictly, by the Ministerial Tenders Board (MTB) headed by the Permanent Secretary.
“Not only that, many of the projects are rollover projects from the previous year which have not been fully funded due to the paucity of funds.
“After the processes were completed and forwarded to the minister for approval, petitions emerged from the participants and the minister withheld the approval and set up a committee to look into the petitions in order to ensure fairness, transparency, accountability, and justice not only to the petitioners but also to the government.”
“The ministry under the leadership of Shittu is very strict when it comes to issues of justice, accountability, and incorruptibility. He has therefore ensured that all necessary rules and regulations guiding award and implementation of contracts are strictly adhered to in the Ministry,” Kazeem said, adding that the committee has submitted its report and necessary action had been taken to ensure that the whole processes are fair, transparent and incorruptible and that justice prevail so that all stakeholders would be satisfied that fairness prevailed in the award of contracts in the Ministry of Communications.