The Senate, yesterday, summoned the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed; Minister Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over the legacy projects of the Federal Government.
The Senate also summoned the contractors handling the legacy projects, which included the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.
These public officers were summoned by the Senate Committee on Finance, after a meeting with the management of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), led by its Managing Director, Mr. Uche Orji.
The Chairman of the Committee, Solomon Adeola, requested the ministers and others being summoned to provide information about the variations that had taken place on the projects and the approving authorities. He also stated that the committee would need to know details of the agreements signed between the Federal Government and the contractors before the NSIA took over the projects.
There has been an existing tripartite agreement between the NSIA, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works on the Legacy projects. The lawmakers issued the summons following the disclosure by the MD of the NSIA that his agency had no details of the agreements signed on the projects before he took over. Adeola had demanded for the initial cost of the Lagos-Ibadan Express road and the current cost as a result of variation, but Orji said that only the Ministries of Works and Finance could provide the information needed by the senators.
He said: “On the issue of funding, by virtue of the information at my disposal and by what the Finance Minister made me to understand, is that you are playing critical roles by providing funds for the legacy projects. As of today, two years down the line, only $300 million is in the books. This gives cause for concern. “We believe that funding is critical to these projects.
If the funding is not there, there is no way we can achieve those time frame that you have set out for the completion of the projects.
“…I know there are variations already, but we want to know the value and the scope of works that the variation covers, we want to know it because we don’t have it. That is why we want to know the actual value for the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano and Second Niger Bridge. “What was the initial cost?
Of course, there was variation. Who approved it and what is the present cost as of today?” In his submission, however, Orji argued that some of the projects predated his agency and that it was the responsibility of the Federal Government to settle the indebtedness on the projects, as his agency did not inherit the liabilities on them.
It was learnt that as of June this year, the NSIA had disbursed N60.9 billion out of the total contract sum of N311 billion on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. It had also disbursed N100.6 billion out of the total contract sum of N206.20 billion on the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano.
The sum of N70.1 billion out of the total contract sum of N155.7bn was disbursed on the Second Niger Bridge.
The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which was expected to be completed in July 2022, is being jointly handled by Messrs Julius Berger and RCC. Julius Berger is also handling the Abuja-Kaduna- Kano Expressway, which is also expected to be completed in April 2021.
President Muhammadu had, on February 25, 2018, approved the establishment of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund to accelerate the execution of certain critical, strategic infrastructure, part of which were the legacy projects.