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Nigeria Government Justifies Award Of N327.34bn Contracts Few Days To End Of Tenure

It also unveiled a 10-year national automotive industry plan.

Nigeria’s Federal Government on Wednesday justified the award of multi billion Naira contracts for various ministries and agencies in less than three weeks to the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration saying it will continue to approve contracts for award, saying it remains in office and will work until the last day on May 28, 2023.

The explanation came after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetimg presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja considered 37 agenda items in a marathon session on Wednesday before announcing the award of contracts in various sectors.

Answering reporters’ questions on why the administration waited till last minute before churning out Wednesday’s contracts, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, maintained that the administration will continue to perform its duties to May 28.

He said: “Ladies and gentlemen, without any intentions of mischief, this government was elected to function from 2019 to precisely 29th of May 2023. Should we now stop functioning one month before the next appointment because we’re coming to the end of the tenure?

“This government must work. We expect the next government to also work until the very last day of their tenure.”

Also speaking, Minister of Water Resources, Sulaiman Adamu, explained that contracted processes take time, saying even if the administration cannot finish what it has started, government being a continuum,  will  be the business of the incoming government.

According to him: “There are processes and this process have started. We’re still operating the 2022 budget, we have agencies. These things are not just done in one day. We had lots of submissions to BPP to ICRC, all the agencies involved in the  procurement, and they have to get ready. 

“So, anytime they’re ready, it’s at that point that we have to submit. And like the Minister of Transportation said, we’re still in office technically until the 28th of May. 

So, we still have to operate. And this is the instruction that we have from Mr. President. 

“Since the elections were conducted, that government must continue to function regardless of elections and so on. And so we’re just doing our duty as we should serve in the country. 

“We do not control the process, but when it’s completed and we’re still in office, we’re duty-bound to bring these memos to Council for Council to approve. Government is a continuum. There are still a lot of memos. 

“I can assure you a lot of contracts will not see the light of day in the next one week or two. And for those, we don’t have any option but to let the process continue. And then for the next government to come and continue. That’s what we face also.  

“Some of the very first memos we brought to council in 2015, for me, I had no idea when they started, but I had to be briefed on, this was the the way that it had to be and then we were brought in here. So, government is a continuum. And it should be seen as such. 

“And I think this administration should be given that full credit because, to a large extent, we have continued since 2015, to implement projects and programs that we didn’t initiate that which, in our assessment, were good for the country. We continued them, we didn’t jettison them, and we’re confident that the incoming administration will do the same.”

In all, contracts worth N327.34 billion was awarded by FEC at its Wednesday’s meeting.

The breakdown include Transportation N12.63 billion; Sports N8.4 billion; Aviation N3.84 billion; Ogoni projects N129.8 billion; FCT N132.9 billion and IRS building purchase in Abuja and Port Harcourt N10 billion.

Also speaking, presidential spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, described Wednesday’s session as quite extraordinary, saying: “It’s been a very long day for everyone, 37 agenda items were considered for today’s meeting. Quite extraordinary.” 

Shedding light on the contracts award, Shehu

said two major projects for water project and remediation of newly identified hydrocarbon impacted cities were awarded for Ogoniland. 

His words: “Two major contracts were approved for Ogoni. You know Ogoni is one of the flagships of the Buhari administration. And you’re aware the whole world is watching Nigeria. There is water project that have been awarded under the second phase in Ogoniland amounting to N22.8 billion 

“Approval was also given for the contract for the remediation of the newly identified hydrocarbon impacted cites along the shorelines of Ogoniland, and this is for about N107 billion. 

The spokesman further disclosed that several road projects were also approved for execution in the Federal Capital Territory ((FCT).

According to him: “The FCT also got quite a number of approvals. And these includes contract for the full scope development of the Shehu Shagari way, and it is for N91 billion. Another one is for rehabilitation of Rubochi township roads and upgrading of Rubochi-Gwagwalada road for about N5.7 billion. 

“Council also approved N1.6 billion contract for the construction of 3.2km road leading to Kwali bridge in Kwali Area Council in the FCT. Another FCT contract is for the revised estimated cost for the provision of engineering infrastructure at Guzape District plot II  of the FCT and the contract sum is N28 billion”.

FEC also adopted a new 10-year national automotive policy that would run from 2023 to 2033.

Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, explained that the new policy would explore how the automotive industry can migrate seamlessly from combustible engines into electric solar powered engines.

This was also in addition to FEC’s approval for the implementation of the first ever Nigeria investment policy 2023 to 2027.

Adebayo explained that the concept was for the country to develop rapidly through industrialization, then snowball into a sustainable investment climate to attract the kind of investment we desire.

He said: “We felt that there was a need for us to have an investment quality, which would give confidence and allow people who want to better the country, that confidence to bring their funds into the country, the result of which we put this policy together.

“Second memo, which we presented was for the approval of the Nigeria automotive industry development plan 2023 to 2033. This is an improvement on the 2013 automotive industry development plan, which was in place before.

“The whole idea is to bring it up to date with current realities. Also, to put our auto industry on the proper footing, I don’t know if you are aware that we have capacity today to assemble 400,000 vehicles.

“One thing that happens to the auto industry is that when the assembly or  companies move into a country to make that investment, which can be anything between $300 to $400 million for the assembly plant. What happens is that the makers of the components that go into the manufacture of these vehicles also move to that country to set up competent baking factories”. 

Adebayo also disclosed that the third paper presented to Council was for the approval for trade policy of Nigeria for to 2023 to 2027. 

According to him, it was basically, a review of the old trade policy that was in place adding that the whole idea was to have a policy in place that will improve Nigeria’s trade within the World Trade Organization and to bring increased level of Nigeria capacity to GDP to bring in more revenue for the country.

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

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