The 36 state governments have reported that work has since been abandoned at designated sites in the 774 Local Government Councils and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the construction of the controversial N37billion comprehensive health centres nationwide.
Though the contractor Mathan Nigeria Limited is insisting on variation of the original contract sum, representatives of the 36 state government and Abuja are surprised that nothing is happening at the various sites nationwide in spite of the huge amount of money paid by government.
The project, reportedly initiated by the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) under the Obasanjo administration in 2007, was declared illegal at the inception of the Umaru Yar’adua administration on grounds that the contract award to did not follow “due process and rule of law.”
Consequently, the contract was terminated and the deductions from the allocations of the Local Government Councils in the Federation Account stopped on grounds that it was unconstitutional for any contractor to be paid directly from statutory allocations.
The contractor had challenged the revocation of the contract, claiming that the Federal Government lacked the legal authority to have taken the decision, as it was not part of the agreement on the contract.
The court, in its ruling, had granted the contractor’s request, ordering the reinstatement of the contract and payment of the contract sum to be recovered from the monthly allocations of the Local Governments in the Federation Account.
Following the court order, a total of about N14.9billion had already been deducted from the statutory allocations in the Federation Account in four installments between January and April last year before it was stopped after the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) raised alarm declaring it illegal and unconstitutional.
RMAFC had pointed out that ALGON, which reportedly approved the deductions, did not have any legal basis in law to do so, since neither it nor its contracting firm hired to handle the construction of the controversial health centres was recognized in the constitution as direct beneficiaries of the Federation Account.
At the June Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting last year, representatives of the 36 state governments raised serious objections to the deductions, arguing that the order for payment from the Federation Account contravened the provisions of section 162 of the constitution, making it illegal for revenues accruing to the Federation to be disbursed through any means other than sharing among the three tiers of government.
However, emboldened by the court ruling reinstating the contract, the contractor reportedly brought another demand to the effect that the contract sum must be reviewed and variation paid before he re-mobilizes to site nationwide.
Premium Times gathered that at the FAAC meeting held two weeks ago, most representatives of the various state governments reported that their visits to the various sites showed no activity was ongoing in most places designated by the contractor as sites for the project.
“Same buildings reported by the contractor to have been completed had been there before the project,” said Kaduna State Commissioner for Finance, John Ayuba, in his report about his state, while his Edo State counterpart, John Inegbedion, who also did not have anything positive to report, urged members to be wary of the contractor and ensure that all jobs he claims to have done are duly certified before any payment is made.
Source: Premuim Times