Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council rose from its weekly meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on Wednesday with the approval of the sum of N1.535 trillion for the construction and rehabilitation of 11 roads across the country, under the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) Tax Credit Scheme.
Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed this to newsmen at the State House, Abuja, after the FEC meeting said over N1.5 trillion would be spent on some major roads totalling over 700 kilometres, which would soon be completed to link11 States in the country.
According to him, the benefiting States include Edo, Delta, Kano, Kaduna, Borno and Adamawa, among others.
His words: “The Council gave approval for the construction and rehabilitation of 11 roads totaling 737.242 kilometers in the sum of N1, 535, 154, 247, 234.48 under phase II of the NNPC tax credit scheme.
“Recall that in January this year, the council approved a memo for the NNPC to invest N1.9 trillion on our roads. That amount was then about 44 roads that had been awarded and the balance of those roads that had to go through procurement between then and now are the 11 that have now been approved by the council”.
Some other road contracts were approved following memos presented at Wednesday’s FEC meeting by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
The contract awards also included an augmentation cost for the Ogun Shagamu road project.
Giving an insight into the projects, Fashola said, “the ministery of Works presented four memoranda, all of which were approved. The first was for the augmentation of an existing contract in Ogun – Shagamu road. The contractor has run out of quantities, needs augmentation to finish the road.
“I think out of about 32 kilometers they completed over 20 kilometers which has been open to traffic. So council approved is N6.972 billion augmentation for them to complete the road. That was one”.
Explaining further, the Works Minister said a memo on behalf of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FEMA), a statutory Corporation under the supervision of the Ministry of Works and Housing, sailed through Council with respect to the rehabilitation of five roads and the construction of one road.
He listed the roads to include Orogun -Owerugbo and associated roads in Delta state in favor of Mrs. UYK in the sum of N2.99 billion.
Others are the rehabilitation of Gege to Garage road in Yobe in favor of Mother Cat N12.926 billion then the rehabilitation of Geshua to Potiskum road in Yobe in favor of Thinker Point N2.986 billion.
“The rehabilitation and construction of Onitsha-Aguleri to Adani road in Anambra in favor of Commerce Steel and Construction N2.499 billion and the rehabilitation of Geshuwa-Yusufani road in Yobe in favor of Saha Continental Civil Engineering Limited at the sum of N1.99 billion and the rehabilitation of Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe road section one, Oba UG 35 kilometres in favor of messes Ferotex Construction in sum of N2.499 billion. That was the second memorandum which was approved,” he noted.
On the third memorandum FEC approved, Fashola said it was with respect to the augmentation of the Potiskum to Damaturu section four part of the Kano-Maiduguri highway which is about 600 kilometers.
“Shuware to Azare and Azare to Potiskum will be open to traffic. This section Potiskum to Damaturu is also almost completed. There’s just an augmentation of N2.577 billion to cover escalation of cost in materials and to provide for lane markings.
“So that the road can be fully finally handed over. That was a third contract that was approved.
When asked why such contract awards when the lifespan of the administration was almost coming to an end, Fashola made attempts to justify it, saying, ” if the question is posed to Nigerians whether these projects should be left undone and transfered to the incoming administration, majority of the citizens would prefer it comes now because of the implications of job creation and stimulating the economy”.
Also briefing, Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said FEC approved the granting of Nigerian citizenship to 385 foreign nationals residing in the country.
He said 317 of the applicants were granted citizenship by naturalization while 68 were granted by registration, adding that all the applicants met the requirements for such an honour.
“Federal Executive Council at its meeting today approved the granting of Nigeria’s citizenship by naturalization to 317 applicants and Nigeria’s citizenship by registration to 68 applicants.
“Those granted citizenship have met all the constitutional and administrative requirements for the grant of Nigerian citizenship,”Aregbesola explained.
The Minister also disclosed that the council approved a special fire detection and alarm system to be installed in all firefighting stations across the country.
“At the same meeting, the council approved the full business case for a project on National Fire Detection and Alarm System, incorporating life safety systems, networking, monitoring and dispatching at real time.
“This will be through a Public Private Partnership arrangement. At the completion of the project, Nigerians who so desire would subscribe to an automatic fire alarm system that if you have in your house, will raise an alarm at each of the fire service stations nationwide,” Aregbesola stressed.
The Minister said the project will be at no cost to the government and it will be fully digitized thus facilitating prompt response to any fire emergency.
FEC also approved E-Customs Modernisation project despite a court order.
Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba who disclosed this to newsmen, however, claimed not to be aware of any court order, said council approved for the implementation of the Nigeria Customs Service modernization project to a concessionaire.
According to him, the concessionaire is Bergman Securities Consultant and suppliers limited as the project sponsor, Africa Finance Corporation UFC as lead financier while Huawei Technologies will be trained as lead technical service provider.
He said the concessionaire has furnished the government with $9 million security from the satisfactory performance of the project while also executing the depth facility tensions in the some of $300 million to finance the first phase of the project.
He said the revenue sharing arrangement is 45% of upon accruals to the comprehensive input service scheme, going to the concessionaire and 55% going to the federal government you 5% of what accrues to the Nigerian responsible ation scheme, and 75%.
Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria had asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to obey a court order in respect of a dispute on the multi-million Naira E-Customs Modernisation project.
The senior lawyers, Messrs Ahmed Raji and Dipo Okpeseyi had in separate letters warned the AGF; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Secretary to the Government of the Federation of “underhand efforts being made to obtain the Federal Executive Council’s approval and or ratification of the re-award of the E-Customs Modernisation Project.”
Specifically, the lawyers are asking the Federal Executive Council to suspend discontinue or discountenance any request to initiate deliberations or a fresh request for approval for the award of the said contract to any other bidder aside the original approval granted by FEC to Messrs E- Customs Project Limited.
“It is in spite of all these that the Nigeria Customs Service is pushing to have the FEC grant another approval with the sole purpose to embarrass, over reach and undermine the earlier approval and ratification by the FEC and prejudice the matter pending in court,” said Mr Okpeseyi in his letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation dated April 11, 2023.
The Federal High Court in Abuja had in June, 2022, restrained the Federal Government from enforcing or giving effect to an agreement on the Customs Modernisation Project otherwise known as E- Customs allegedly executed by its agents on May 30, 2022.
On 20 February, 2023, the court had admonished all parties in the matter to preserve the res of any matter before court and do nothing to interfere with the proceedings.
The agents who allegedly executed the disputed concession agreement are the Nigeria Customs Service, Trade Modernization Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited and African Finance Corporation.
The court also issued an order of interim injunction against the Federal Government or its agents, acting through the Federal Executive Council, from retrospectively ratifying the decision to concession the Customs Modernisation Project also known as e- customs project to Trade Modernization Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Company Limited and African Finance Corporation.
The restraining order issued by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja Division of the court shall last till the hearing and the determination of a suit brought against the Federal Government and other parties by two aggrieved companies.
Hearing in the case resumes on April 19 but the plaintiffs have raised an alarm that the Minister of Finance and the AGF are going ahead to present a new memo to FEC on the matter despite a restraining court order.
The two aggrieved companies, E-customs HC Project Limited and Bionica Technologies (West Africa) Limited jointly challenged the alleged unlawful and fraudulent concession of the E-custom project to the defendants.
Counsel to the two aggrieved companies, Anone Usman had on behalf of the two plaintiffs argued an ex-parte application praying the Federal High Court for the interim orders against the defendants to protect the interest of his clients.
Justice Ekwo while ruling on the ex-parte application granted the prayers of the plaintiff having placed sufficient evidence of interest in the concession project.
The judge also granted permission to the aggrieved companies to serve a writ of summons and all other filed processes on the African Finance Corporation at its head office, located in Ikoyi, Lagos through DHL courier services.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja