Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday questioned the valuation of the Idu Industrial Area Project contract in two currencies – Naira and Euro.
It also frowned at the pace of work, saying that the stage of completion does not reflect the amount that so far has been released by the Federal Government.
The project, which is handled by Salini Nigeria Ltd, was awarded in 2003 at N3 billion and €76 million, but it was later renegotiated in 2009 to the tune of N6 billion and €180 million.
Speaking during the budget oversight function of the House, Hon. Emmanuel Jimeh, chairman, House Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), queried the awarding of the contract in the same year for €73 million.
He particularly expressed concern about the high foreign component of the project, which was reviewed to N6 billion in 2009, noting that it has the potential of solving part of the nation’s unemployment challenges.
“This is about the largest industrial layout in this country, and if properly executed, it would go along way in creating job opportunities for Nigerians. That is why we are concerned about the current status of the project. Though we demanded for some information that would aid us in determining areas where we can intervene, we have to wait for those information.
“Furthermore, from the little at our disposal so far, we are not comfortable with the foreign components of the project because from the documents given to us, we see that some aspects of the project were paid in foreign currency.
“This is contrary to government policy that all contracts must be paid for in our own currency. We need further information on that to determine the justification for such payment,” he said.
Questioning the rational behind the review of the project to N6 billion in addition to the status of the project in comparison to the accessed funds, the committee further sought clarifications on the project that has Naira and Euro components.
The committee, however, observed that the contract not a public private partnership (PPP) one that might require counterpart funding.
At the same time, the committee found it absurd that the project was at 68 percent, while a little over N5 billion or 90 percent from N6 billion has been accessed by the contractor.
In his submission, the deputy chairman of the committee, Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe, who noted that the public deserved an explanation on that, said: “It is displeasing to hear that the project is still at 68 percent completion when over 90 percent of the contract sum has been released to the company. The organisation has no excuse for not achieving over 68 percent completion.”
Igbokwe, who further contended that it was surprising that the contract was valued in Naira and Euro, questioned the legality of such contract.
In his response, Ukpong Benedict, deputy director, Federal Capital Development Administration (FCDA), explained that although 90 percent Naira component of the project had been accessed, the completion rate was way out 68 percent when added with has been accessed in Euro component.
He told the committee that the project is currently in liability of N4 billion because of Variation of Price and Labour (VoP).
“With adequate funding, the project that began since 2003 can be completed within two years,” Benedict added.
Meanwhile, the committee has given assurance that it would do all it can to ensure that the $823 million Abuja Light Rail project would meet its 2015 delivery date.
This is despite the challenges in accessing the $323 million counterpart funding from the Federal Government, after the sum of $158 million was said to have been accessed so far.
With the sum of $158 million being accessed from a $500 million loan from China, the project has reached 25 percent completion status.