Thursday, April 3, 2008
Incredible Week This Has Been
It's been incredible this week with the kind of news coming out of Nigeria.
More incredible revelations from the tour by the House Committee on Power and Steel where contractors (Marubeni Nigeria Limited)were over paid by N224 million.
The committee members were told in Cross River State this amount was paid to the contractors as "unforseen expenditure", even though it was above the agreed contract sum.
It also emerged that Marubeni, whose project was among the first to be awarded, was fully paid by the federal government to the tune of N19.4 billion for the Calabar 561mw GT power station.
The committee also learnt that apart from collecting over $151 million, Marubeni has completed only 30 per cent of the civil works while the project is now eight months behind schedule.
However, Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, who had appeared before the House Committee to explain his role in the projects when he was Minister of Power and Steel, asked the committee not to rely on hearsay as they inspect the plants and sites of the power projects.
Imoke told the committee members that it was good they were embarking on this fact-finding mission and not relying on hearsay, adding that visiting the sites “will afford you the opportunity to see, first hand, what is going on. It will also ginger those that are not working and spur others to take the job seriously. They will be on their toes”.
Imoke, who received the committee at 12. 40 pm in his office, recommended that non-performing contractors should be punished.
“The projects,” he said, “have been on for quite some time and should have been completed. You must make recommendations for the completion of these projects.”
The governor told the committee at the Government House, Calabar that after the visit, “you should sanction those who have failed to perform and commend those who excelled. For us in Cross River, it is our hope and belief that your visit will facilitate the completion of the projects”.
The committee is expected to start a tour of locations in the state before leaving for Bayelsa on Thursday.
"The projects were designed to create relief across the country," the governor said. "It is imperative that they be completed."
When the lawmakers stopped over at the Calabar 561mw Generation Power station along the Itu road, Ikot Nyong in Onim Ankiong Clan, Odukpani Highway, the Site Manager of Marubeni Corporation of Japan, Derek Charman, a British citizen, explained that two site managers who earlier started the project abandoned work before he was brought in last November on a rescue mission.
He would not state why the previous site managers jumped ship.
Charman said: "We have had no financial problems, just the roads, but now we have been able to do about 30 per cent of the civil works on site."
Explaining his position, in which he tacitly asked for more grace before he could accomplish the task before him, Charman said: “I arrived here November 15 last year. I am determined to complete this job and I know its importance. We have had delays. But I will need one more dry season that means I can deliver the job between January and April 2009.”
On why the job was not started till the completion date elapsed, he said “we have improved since I came in”.
The statement by the Managing Director of Marubeni, Mr. Toru Sato, that the community was delaying the job was countered by the Clan Head of Ankiong Clan Council of Odukpani Local Government, retired Brigadier General Bassey Asuquo, who confronted him (Sato) at the Calabar Port.
Asuquo disclosed that after the ground breaking by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on March 10, 2006, rather than complete the job with the first phase of the proposed five turbines scheduled for July 2007 and the last in November last year, there were only unanticipated and technical delays for the better part of the project.
The sub-contractor handling the civil and earth works at the project site along Itu road, Gitto Construction, explained that contractors handling big jobs in Nigeria tell a lot of lies without carrying out the necessary tests.
Another contractor blamed nature and topography for the delay in executing their project.
The Site Manager, Emmanuel Sandrello, told THISDAY that they never envisaged what they saw when they moved in to the site as they had spent so much time blasting rocks hidden atop soft soil before they could proceed with piling and ejection on the points for the turbines.
He however explained that the civil works would be ready before the end of the year as they work along with the main contractors to remedy the situation.
At the site of the 30.31 KV sub station in Calabar, the members were told that the contract was awarded in 2001 on paper without a site by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The Consultant Engineer of PH Power, Mr. Abdulrauf Jimoh, a Nigerian, told the committee that three contractors earlier given the job abandoned it before MBH Engineering, owned and run by Indians, took over the job.
This company too has already cashed over 90 per cent of its contract sum.
He told the committee that government has so far paid over £8,987,000 out of the £9 million for the procurement of the equipment and so far, it has also paid N306,956,000 for the local content out of N461 million.
He said the job was awarded to the contractor who was asked to go and look for a flat land to site the project but Alston and Ariva who were the initial company that started the job all left because they asked that the initial bid be reviewed. He estimated 22 per cent as the state of jobs done at the site.
When the committee members visited the Calabar Port, they were shown round the Warehouse of Intels Nigeria handling the clearing of the goods for the projects. The company explained that they stored the turbines which cannot stand the harsh weather inside the terminal building while others have been lying outside since last year.
They also said that they had so far handled about eight vessels since they starred in 2006.
Iyabo Obasanjo Admits Collecting N10m Largess from Health Ministry
In its first official reaction to its reported involvement in the budget scandal that rocked the Ministry of Health, Senate Committee on Health yesterday admitted that a princely N10 million was the extent of the support given to it by the Ministry for the capacity-building retreat in Ghana.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, who travelled out of the country on another trip by the Senate Committee on Education to Cuba, had met with eight other members of the Health Committee Monday in Abuja where it was agreed that a formal reaction on the issue be made.
A statement issued in Abuja by the Clerk of the Committee, IEF Edobor, at the instance of the Committee leadership, said that the money was received and duly signed for by the then Secretary of the Committee.
According to the statement, "The amount was received in December (2007) and the Committee had the retreat in Accra, Ghana from March 16 to March 20, 2008. This was the period most convenient for the generality of Committee members vis--vis programmed activities of the Senate.
Entitled: "Statement by the Senate Committee on Health Regarding negative publicity on the Committee's retreat to Ghana,"it reads in part: "There have been media reports in the last few days unfairly linking the Senate Committee on Health with the alleged misappropriation of funds in the Federal Ministry of Health. The allegation under reference has led to some resignations in the Ministry."
"The Senate Committee on health would like to state as follows: that the committee was not a beneficiary of any 'Christmas bonus' or 'Christmas gift' or indeed any other gift from the Federal Ministry of Health." That contrary to all the speculations, the Committee was in no way involved in any alleged money sharing.That the Committee, however, acknowledges some funding from the Ministry specifically meant to support the retreat in Ghana which was planned to review and conclude the national Health Policy Bill pending since the last senate.
"This is an Executive Bill (and) the Committee notes that the support of the retreat by the Federal Ministry of Health is totally in consonance with senate Rules (Rule 3 of the Senate Code of Ethics). The rule, on Sponsored Official/Travel Trips, states in 3.1., that senators shall not undertake any official foreign or domestic travel sponsored by individuals, private or corporate organizations unless such travels are in the public interest and will enhance legislative duty. The Senate President must be notified in writing before such trips are undertaken".
"Rule 3.2-Disclose the purpose, sponsors and duration of such travel or trips to the Senate President in writing; Rule 3.2-Submit a written report on any official trip sponsored by the government, individuals, private or corporate organizations to the Senate President within 4 weeks on return. The same rule shall apply to travel by any Senate Committee.
The Committee, in the three-page statement, further justified the Ghana trip, pointing out that it afforded members the opportunity to be involved in brainstorming sessions on the National Health Policy Bill.
According to it, "In addition to brainstorming sessions on the bill, the Committee while in Ghana took advantage of the retreat to interact with the following: Committee on Health of the National Assembly of Ghana, Ghana's Minister of health, Department for International Development (DFID), Ghana, the Ghana opposition spokesman on health, and former President Jerry Rawlings.
"There were also academic and technical contributions by Health consultants, from both Ghana and Nigeria as well as Ministry officials.The Committee claimed that it found the retreat ìto be very productive, informative and educative," adding, "The Committee's action on the Bill was concluded and is now ready for submission to the Senate for further deliberation."
There has been a growing unease within the Committee over the likely disposition of the Senate leadership and the Senate in plenary to the credibility of its defence. It was learnt that some members of the Committee had warned against the Chairman of the Committee leaving any paper trail that would link her to direct receipt of the money when arrangements were concluded in December last year to release it to the Committee.
The then Secretary of the Committee whose name has been kept away from the public domain was asked to sign for and collect the money on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee for the Ghana trip.
Meanwhile, there were feelers that the plan to move a motion calling for the resignation of Senator Obasanjo-Bello as Chairman of the Health Committee is still on course as senators involved in it were said to be perfecting their move.
FEC Approves Strategy for Additional 16,000mw
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the recommendations of the Presid-ential Committee on the Accelerated Expansion of Nigeria’s Electricity Infrastr-ucture.
The measures are intended to increase the electricity supply in the country to 6,000mw in the next 18 months and to add a further 10,000mw by 2011.
Nigeria currently produces a little below 3000mw but needs at least 6000mw to meet current national consumption demand – and at least 10,000mw if the whole country is electrified as only 30 per cent of the population have access to electricity.
Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting yesterday, the Minister of Information and Commu-nication, Chief John Odey, said: “Council in view of the administration’s seven-point agenda as it relates to energy supply and generation, it considered that it is necessary to take measures in the short term and medium term to ensure that additional capacity is generated, transmitted and distributed to consumers.”
The Presidential Committee, after working on its assignment for one month, had reported to President Umaru Musa Ya’Adua that the target of 6,000 additional megawatts within 18 months could be exceeded with the investment of $2.7 billion and with Federal Government’s direct intervention in critical areas.
It also said that 1450 additional megawatts could be realised from existing PHCN plants, 3368 megawatts from ongoing National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), 640 megawatts from the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s Afam/Okoloma Joint Venture and 805 megawatts from Legacy Independent Power Projects.
The governmental interventions sought by the committee include immediate action to implement the Electric Power Reform Act, 2005 and the approval of private sector structured financing with international management oversight of financed assets.
The committee, which reiterated the willingness of the private sector to collaborate with the Federal Government in funding power supply projects, also called for accelerated action on the Multi Year Tariff Order and the Power Consumer Assistance Fund.
Also yesterday, council approved the price variation on the ongoing contract for the rehabilitation of four injection substations providing power to the State House and Asokoro District, by AY Electrick, for the sum of N247,061,920.58.
It approved another award of contract for design, manufacture, supply and installation of 11KV underground cables and overhead lines and 11 RMU in Asokoro Direct in favour of Messrs Renacs Engineering Company Ltd/AK-AY Electrik for the sum of N94,554,169.13.
This brings the total revised coast of the rehabilitation of the four injection-substations providing power to the State House at the cost of N1,104,616,637.70 with a completion period of 12 months.
Council also approved the declaration of cessation clause for the 1,606 Sierra Leonean and 5,528 Liberian refugees remaining in Nigeria and the closure of Oru refugee camp.
“It also approved that the multipartite agreement between the government of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria as well as UNHRC and ECOWAS on Local Integration be forwarded to the President of ECOWAS Commission for possible consideration during the submit of Heads of States and Govern-ments in June 2008 in Abuja with a view to applying it in other parts of the sub-region,” he said.
Odey addressed the press in company with the Minister of State Energy (Power), Mrs Fatimah Balaraba Ibrahim, and the Executive Secretary of National Electricity Regulatory Comm-ission (NERC), Dr. Ransome Owan.
Govt Revokes sale of Ajaokuta Steel Firm, Orders trial of officials
THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday rescinded the concession agreements between the Federal Government and Global Infrastructure (Nigeria) Limited (GIHL) in respect of the Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASCI) and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), accusing the firm of non-compliance and asset-stripping.
In addition, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, after reviewing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC's) interim report on the concessioning/sale of ASCL, NIOMCO and the Delta Steel Company, has ordered the criminal prosecution of indicted officials of the Federal Government and promoters of GIHL for alleged asset-stripping.
Also, the Council directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to establish the amounts of money borrowed by GIHL from Nigerian banks, determine the amounts actually utilised locally and those taken abroad.
FEC had deliberated on the report of the administrative panel of inquiry set up by the Yar'Adua administration to review the concession agreements and determine the extent of compliance by both parties.
The Council, which met till yesterday evening at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, agreed with the finding of the panel that the agreements "were largely skewed in favour of the concessionaire to the detriment of the Federal Government of Nigeria."
The panel had put the statutory obligations outstanding against GIHL at N350 million, saying that instead of investing external funds on the completion of both projects as expected, the firm embarked on massive borrowing from local banks, pledging the assets of the Delta Steel Company as collateral.
It also submitted that following the "massive borrowing" from Nigerian banks, GIHL now owes the banks about $192 million.
The panel said in its report, which was adopted by the Council that "the general impression is that GIHL has been diminishing the values of ASCL and NIOMCO to buoy up its fortunes."
The Special Adviser to the President (Communications), Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, also noted in a statement that "the aforementioned actions notwithstanding, the Federal Government wishes to assure all law-abiding investors of the safety of their investments in Nigeria."
Adeniyi, obviously allaying the fears of investors, reaffirmed the commitment of Yar'Adua to due process, transparency and the rule of law, adding that "the administration will continue to respect the sanctity of all proper and legally-binding agreements."
According to Adeniyi, "the Council also agreed with the panel's conclusion that any benefits that might have accrued to the government and people of Nigeria from the implementation of the agreements have been thwarted by breaches and unwholesome practices by GIHL.
"The Administrative Panel of Inquiry indicted GIHL for breaches of the concessionary agreements, including failure to submit a workable business plan within the specified time-frame, non-payment of concessionary fees as well as the cannibalisation and exportation of plants and equipment.
"In deciding to rescind the agreements, the government also noted that the purported Share Sale Purchase Agreement (SSPA) between it and GIHL in respect of ASCL is technically not in force because the transfer of shares to the buyer was never effected.
"The summary of statutory obligations outstanding against GIHL was put at N350 million. The panel also discovered that instead of investing external funds on the completion of both projects as expected, GIHL embarked on massive borrowing from local banks, pledging the assets of the Delta Steel Company as collateral.
"The panel reported that GIHL currently owes the banks about $192million. "The general impression is that GIHL has been diminishing the values of ASCL and NIOMCO to buoy up their fortunes."
Adeniyi stated that an interim managements would be set up by the Federal Government for the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company pending the determination of all issues arising from the government rescinding the agreements with GIHL."
Also yesterday, the FEC approved the report of the Presidential Committee on the Accelerated Expansion of Nigeria's Electricity Infrastructure on the strategy for increasing the current power generation and supply to 6,000 megawatts (mw) in the next 18 months and an additional 10,000mw by 2011.
Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. John Odey and Minister of State for Energy (Power), Fatimah Balaraba Ibrahim, flanked by Minister of State Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Nakande and the Executive Secretary of National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Ransom Owan, said that "the Council, in view of the administration's seven-point agenda as it relates to energy supply and generation, considered that it is necessary to take measures in the short-term and medium-term to ensure that additional capacity is generated, transmitted and distributed to consumers.
"Therefore, the Council at its meeting approved the measure being put in place to increase the current electricity supply in the country to 6,000 mw in the next 18 months (short-term) and to add a further 10,000mw by 2011 (medium-term) as recommended by the presidential committee."
Inaugurated by the President on February 15, 2008, the committee was charged with formulating strategies to boost Nigeria 's power supply capacity by 6,000 megawatts within 18 months, with an additional 10,000 megawatts by 2011.
The Council also approved the price variation on the on-going contract for the rehabilitation of four injection sub-stations providing power to the State House and Asokoro District, by AY Electrick in the sum of N247,061,920.58 and another award of contract for design, manufacture, supply and installation of 11KV underground cables and overhead lines and 11 RMU in Asokoro District in favour of Messrs Renacs Engineering Coy Ltd/AK-AY Electrik, in the sum of N94,554,169.13. This brings the total revised cost of the rehabilitation of the projects to N1,104,616,637.70 with a completion period of 12 months.
ICPC quizzes Ehindero over N557m police fund
Bozimo at commission's office
IT was yet another case of investigating corruption in high places as two senior officials in the last administration yesterday kept a date with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The officials were former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero and the former Minister of Police Affairs, Chief Boderick Bozimo.
Ehindero, who was the first to arrive at the ICPC headquarters in Abuja was interrogated for two hours on how the N557 million meant for the procurement of arms and ammunition for the police allegedly ended up in his private accounts in two new generation banks.
Bozimo, who was later seen at the ICPC office was summoned by the commission to explain how he allegedly got N17 million from the money.
Prof. Adenike Grange and her Minister of State, Mr. Gabriel Aduku were forced to resign over their alleged involvement in the sharing of N300 million unspent budget of the ministry.
Four directors and the permanent secretary in the health ministry were also suspended. The legislature is not spared. Two committees of the National Assembly are also involved in the scam.
Ehindero, who wore a multi-coloured Agbada of Ankara fabrics stayed with the ICPC operatives from 10.15 a.m. to 12.15 p.m.
According to ICPC officials, Ehindero allegedly admitted that he directed that the funds be paid into his personal accounts in the banks under fixed deposits for four months.
At the expiration of the period, the interest accruing from the money stood at N6.5 million.
In his defence, Ehindero reportedly told his interrogators that the interest was spent on operational expenses by the police.
Anxious journalists, who were waiting at the ICPC office to speak with Ehindero were disappointed when they discovered that he had been allowed out of the building through another exit door.
A source at the ICPC said that Ehindero was interrogated on his involvement in the arms and ammunition funds lodged in his personal account with two different banks and responded that he directed that the money be deposited in his private accounts.
Bozimo was to give details of his alleged share of N17 million of the N27 million purportedly deducted from the N557 million to be paid to the aggrieved contractor, who petitioned the ICPC.
Two directors in the Police Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior, a deputy director, Alhaji Ibrahim Tumsa and an assistant director, Mr. J.O. Akindele both in accounts were arrested by ICPC on March 14 after which they promised a refund of N10 million they benefited from the loot.
It was learnt that Ehindero had approached the former governor of Bayelsa State now Vice President of the country Goodluck Jonathan to procure arms and ammunition to strengthen security in the state.
But the funds were not utilised until after four months when they were deposited at the two banks in N300 million and N200 million instalments.
The Resident Consultant, Media, Mr. Folu Olamiti who confirmed the development said Ehindero was quizzed by the commission but the details were meant for the consumption of the commission only.
He, however, said that after a thorough appraisal of the investigation, with reference to the ICPC Act, it would be decided a case of prima facie had been established against him and subsequently charged to court.
It was learnt that former President Olusegun Obasanjo directed the defunct Ministry of Police Affairs to oversee the procurement of the arms and ammunition but the supplier who was to be paid N557 million was short-changed N27 million by the two directors now under interrogation.
To deepen its investigation, ICPC said it had gone ahead to pick managers of the banks used for the lodgment of N35.9 million unspent fund of the National Population Commission (NPC's) budget for 2007.
A leading new generation bank cheque of N38.98 million was issued by NPC to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF)'s office and expected to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Funds but was not reflected in the review of personnel cost of ministries, departments and agencies.
Olamiti said that the directors, Mr. D.A Kifasi, M.L Ajanchukwu, Assistant Director, E.K. Johnson Senior, Accountant and M.A. Vatsa, Accountant 1 arrested over the diversion were yet to be released while the managers of the banks involved were also to face the commission yesterday.
This is the second case of fraud that Ehindero is being linked with.
On June 7, 2007, a Chief Superintendent of Police in the Budget Office and Personal Assistant and driver to the Commissioner of Police (COP) in charge of Budget, Mr. John Obaniyi were caught with N21 million cash said to belong to Ehindero.
After a thorough investigation, Obaniyi was quoted as saying that the money with his personal assistant was being taken to Ehindero as ordered by him.
Investigators of the fraud in their report, concluded that Ehindero, engaged in a "criminal breach of trust with intent to convert the money.
Newly appointed as Ehindero's successor, Mike Okiro, confirmed in the report he sent to the Presidency that the Force Budget Section was infested with shady deals, especially financial misdeeds and pledged to curb the situation.
The report found Obaniyi, guilty of negligence, breach of public trust and intent to conceal the money.
The N21.6 million was contingency fund for the 2007 elections, including operations at tribunals.
Okiro accused Ehindero and Obaniyi of cover-ups in the scandal.
Obaniyi headed Force Budget Section until June 7 when the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB) blew the whistle on the scam; after his driver, Elisha Augustine, and personal assistant, Olu Monday, were arrested for illegal movement of cash.
The CIB uncovered large sums stuffed in empty cartons and closed files in a store room, triggering finger-pointing among top police officers. Ehindero equally gave his own excuses, then denied any wrongdoing.
"Further to my interim investigation report ... dated June 15, 2007, I submit to (the President) the investigation report into the case of alleged conspiracy, breach of trust, theft, corrupt practices and stealing by public officers," Okiro said in the report.
"In my earlier report, I had intimated you of the conduct of ... Obaniyi who, against financial regulations, had kept in a store room files and empty cartons containing ... N21,650,000 which should have been lodged in a bank or secured in a safe.
"The erstwhile IG, in his statement to the investigating team, had averred that the said amount should have been a subject of handing and taking over between the outgoing and the incoming CP budget. This non-disclosure of the facts of the sum, even when I confronted him (Ehindero), is tantamount to criminal breach of trust with intent to convert the money".
Obaniyi, on suspension since the start of the sleaze, was accused of negligence, discreditable conduct, and conduct prejudicial to discipline.
Okiro said failure to hand over the money to the new CP Budget - as appropriate - meant that Obaniyi was up to some game.
"(Obaniyi)'s matter would be determined by the Force Disciplinary Committee and obviously shown the way out of the Force, as the Force cannot accommodate such a dishonest officer who has assaulted our rules with impunity.
"However, this recommendation will have to wait for the ratification of the Police Service Commission, which is yet to be reconstituted, following the expiration of the five years mandatory tenure of the former Commission ....
"The case file has been sent to the Legal Department of the Force, to ascertain if there is enough prima facie evidence to activate judicial process against the officer."
The duo were to face prosecution once President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua approved the report of the presidential committee set up to investigate the scam.
Though Ehindero denied that he had anything to do with the fraud, Obasanjo claimed that he had remitted a lot of money in the past to him.
Ehindero was quoted as saying that he would soon be vindicated adding: "I want to say categorically that the truth will surely prevail because those behind the allegation are out to blackmail and discredit one in the eyes of the public."
Their trial is yet to begin 10 months after the indictment.
Imoke Reveals 21 Gas Turbines Rotting Away at Ports
With the halting of work on some sites of the National Integr-ated Power Project (NIPP) as a result of stoppage of payments by the Federal Government since June 2007, 21 gas turbines imported for the generation of electricity are lying idle at three of the nation’s ports – Onne, Warri and Calabar.
The cost of the imported power-generating equipment is estimated at over $300 million and it is feared that they may no longer function optimally because they are not being well-preserved.
They were imported nearly a year ago to be installed immediately but the controversy over NIPP has meant that the turbines are holed up at the ports.
Most of the project sites are not yet ready for the installation of the turbines because only 25 per cent of the amounts have been paid in most cases.
Former Minister of Power and Steel in the Obasanjo administration, Senator Liyel Imoke, now Governor of Cross Rivers State, confirmed this to THISDAY yesterday while fielding questions from THISDAY Board of Editors during his visit to the corporate headquarters of the newspaper in Lagos.
The 21 turbines and other equipment which include generators also daily attract demurrage estimated at millions of dollars, expected to be paid by the Federal Government, except there is a waiver.
It is feared that their manufacturer’s warranty on the equipment may expire if the power projects remain in the state of limbo.
The project has been put on hold for nearly one year now while the House of Representatives Power and Steel Committee has since started probing it.
Imoke further revealed that because of the enormity of the project, the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) was asked to work hand in hand with two foreign firms, Panalpina and SDV, with a view to ensuring a clearing of the turbines.
Imoke said that because the equipment were wasting away, the President of Benin Republic recently requested that one of the turbines be sold to his country for its ongoing power project.
“The President of Benin Republic came to meet us and said could we please sell to him because they are trying to get one turbine or two in Benin Republic. He has ordered one from General Electric, but it takes a waiting time of three years to get it delivered,” he added.
He disagreed that the NIPP had failed, contending that if thoroughly implemented and supervised, it was capable of ameliorating the nation’s power woes.
According to him, the projects were conceived to address the critical challenges of the Nigerian power sector and “contrary to insinuations in many quarters it was well conceived”.
The former minister suggested that while continuing with the project, the Federal Government should hold the individual contractors responsible for the successful execution of the projects.
“Anybody who fails to perform could be held responsible,” he said, expressing his delight that the Presidential Committee on the Accelerated Expa-nsion of Nigeria’s Electricity Infrastructure recently submitted its report with a promise that Nigeria could hit 6,000 mw next year.
“Of the 6000mw, 3368 megawatts will come from NIPP according to the committee,” he said. “This shows that NIPP is not a waste as many people tend to suggest. All we need do now is complete the project as time is passing by.”
Meanwhile, Cartlark /Payma Bargh, the consortium handling Ikot-Ekpene and Afam 330/132kv and 132/33kv substations and 330kv and 132 transmission lines, has denied disappearing from sight.
In a paid newspaper advert signed by its Managing Director, Mrs Maryam Sola Akanmode, the contractors said they were “extremely distressed to read the account in various newspapers which insinuated that we disappeared after collecting payments for the Substation and Transmission line projects”.
They said the assessment of their performance “has been based on a regrettable misunderstanding of the nature of the EPC project”
Explaining that EPC stands for Engineering, Procurement and Constr-uction they said an EPC Contract has three distinct but interrelated segments.
Engineering and Procur-ement constitute the lion share of an EPC contract. In some cases, they account for up to 80 per cent of the total contract, they said.
“The amounts released so far for the Project are as follows: (1) 25.288 million Euros being 100% of the cost of Engineering and Equipment Procurement. The Naira equivalent is N2.845 billion (2) N364.493 million being 25% ONLY of the money for Construction, local logistics and transportation to site some of which is actually expanded on the local logistics of procurement such as clearing of goods at Ports.
“The sum of N364.493 million was released for Construction. This is only 25% of the N1.4 billion for this segment. The amount is to cover Preliminaries like soil test, clearing, site facilities, perimeter fencing, civil works, foundation works, logistics (especially clearing of hundred of containers), installation of equipment and commissioning
“It is important to state that if all the N364.493 million released for construction had been fully and adequately utilized it will translate to only 8% of the total project. In other words if the inspection team is only interested in work on site the best performance can show , vis-a –vis the money released, can only translate to 8% of the total EPC contract.
“We acknowledge the fact that the progress on site is behind schedule for several reasons.
The most important reason is the delay in the compensation of the three communities affected by the location of the project. In fact, up till today, the landowners along Afam to Ikot Ekpene transmission line have not been compensated. Another reason is the peculiar process of designing the Substation, especially in view of the fact that our Substation is the Switching Station for where about 10 transmission lines originate or terminate. We are therefore advised to make haste slowly because the precise location of the substation is susceptible to change.
“From the break down earlier stated, the amount released for Procurement and Engineering is 73% of total project cost. The progress made so far is as follows: 90% of Trans-mission Line equipment delivered on site. The balance of 10% is for accessories to be procured after ascertaining precise quantities, 45% of Substation Equipment awaiting clearance at Onne Port, 45% of Substation Equi-pment on the high seas, 10% of Substation Equipment consists of accessories to be procured after ascertaining precise quantities.
“The good thing about procurement is that you cannot conceal the facts. Right from the opening of Letter of Credit, to shipping, to clearing and to storage at site nothing is hidden. We have 120 containers on site, 31 containers at Onne Port, and some on the high seas. Some of the containers on site were delivered over six months ago!
“We therefore still maintain and the Consultant will agree, that in totality, our performance is at least 40% of the EPC contract,” they wrote.
Nigeria's former Army Chief Gen. Bamaiyi Freed after 9 Years
Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Ishaya Bamaiyi was today discharged and acquitted over a four- count charge of attempted murder brought against him by the Lagos state government after nine years in detention.
Bamaiyi who served under the military administration of late General Sani Abacha was arraigned by the Lagos state government of the publisher of the Guardian newspaper, Mr. Alex Ibru, and an eminent Delta state indigene, Mr. Isaac Porbeni.
The former Army Chief in his defence had alleged that he was being framed for not supporting the presidency of retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 after opening his defense on Tuesday at the Ikeja High Court.
General Bamaiyi who was led in evidence by his counsel Idemudia, in his defence had told the court that he objected to the insinuations that his late boss and head of state, that his late boss General Abacha had planned to drop his military garb and continue as a civilian President.
He also objected strongly to the claims that a retired General was to become President after former Head of State, General Abdusalam Abubakar, who supervised the transition civilian rule and handed over to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.
General Bamaiyi said he conducted an opinion poll and found out that the image of the military had suffered a serious bashing, as many of the citizens had grown tired of military rule, and had lost respect for soldiers.
He said he had suggested that an experienced civilian, in the person of Chief Olu Falae, should be made to take over the reins of government from General Abubakar at the time, and felt vindicated by his suggestion, as Chief Obasanjo’s government turned out to be the worst in Nigeria’s political history.
General Bamaiyi alleged he was framed in the murder attempts on the lives of prominent Nigerians, because of his lack of support for Obasanjo’s Presidency.
He claimed that as former Lagos Garrison Commander, he never authorised the movement of weapons and specifically debunked Sergeant Rogers’ claims that he gave instructions and handed out weapons for the attempted murder of Alex Ibru, Pat Utomi and Pa Abraham Adesanya.
He denied ever meeting with the star witness and hatch-man Sgt. Rogers or having conspired with Frank Omenka, Al-Mustapha, Rabo Lawal or any of the other accused persons.
The General accused his juniors, of trying to eliminate him for his involved in NADECO activities and insisted that the charges brought against him, was meant to keep him busy and frustrate him for not supporting General Obasanjo’s presidency.