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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Abandoned N37billion health centre projects rot away nationwide



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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

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