- As FG uncovers massive fraud in N’Delta ministry projects
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) will beginning from today, embark on 24 hours ports operations across the nation’s seaports, in line with the directive of the Federal Government, on ease of doing business.
Subsequently, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi who echoed it has directed the Authority to immediately comply, stressing the need to leverage on the new partnership relationship between the NPA and the Port Miami in drawing the desired strength, anchoring on the technical partnership for a mandatory transfer of knowledge, expected to further help to diversify the Nigerian economy.
The Minister who was ably represented by the Director of Marine services Alh. Sani Umar Galandanci issued the directive, while speaking at a trade forum between the NPA and a delegation of the Miami Dade County, Florida, and Port Miami, USA on Tuesday in Lagos.
In her address, the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman who was represented by the Executive Director Engineering and Technical services Prof. Idris Abubakar affirmed the preparedness of the Authority to comply with the directive, noting that that the new relationship between NPA and Port Miami would not only positively tinker on NPA’s efficiency ratings, but also, definitely expand bilateral trade opportunities and enhance a greater opportunity that will be mutually beneficial to the two nations.
“The trade forum is an important means through which we can highlight the capabilities of our port system and diversity of trade”, Hadiza indicated.
In his contribution His Imperial Majesty Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife who stated that it was fine to benchmark the collaboration between Nigeria and the port Miami in the areas of trade facilitation and bilateral ties, pointed out that the ideals of African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) need to be upheld in all ramification.
The Ooni of Ife highlighted standardization and packaging as aspects that would aid comparative advantage to Nigerians in trade to the United States, stressing that the country is adequately blessed with vast mineral resources which would attract investment.
Identifying banana, pineapple and shea butter as starting points, the Imperial Majesty, Ooni postulated that in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria, seats amidst multiple natural and mineral resources stressing that the alliances have to be strengthened to yield greater dividends.
In his own speech, the distinguished Senator Ovie Omo – Agege who represented the National Assembly appreciated the management of NPA for facilitating the stakeholders Trade Forum with the Miami Dade office of Economic Development and International trade adding that it was in the interest of the nation to regularly engage and take proactive measures on existing and new investment opportunities.
Omo – Agege also added that the National Assembly would not fail to provide robust statutory frame works for the functioning of our governmental, corporate and social processes.
Also speaking at the event, the National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Iyalode Alaba Lawson lauded NPA, asserting that the forum would greatly implore trade relations between Nigeria and the United States of America in general and Miami – Dade county in particular, adding that NACCIMA would promote and advocate a free – market economy of which international trade is a major component.
In her response, the leader of the delegation from the Miami Dade county and the Port Miami Audrey M. Edmonson who expressed joy that a woman is at the helm of affairs in NPA, also affirming that Miami – Dade county and the Port of Miami were ready for business and investment from Nigerian.
Edmonson assured that everything would be done to ensure there is direct commercial flight between Miami and Lagos for fast facilitation of trade between the two great nations.
In his own contribution, the chief Executive officer (CEO) OF Miami port Juan Kuryla demonstrated how his port overcame congestion Challenges by investing in new facilities over the years through the Public Private Partnership.
The CEO of Port Miami highlighted that his port was genuinely looking forward to closer synergy from Ports across Africa, especially from the Lagos Ports whose relationship with them he said dates back to more than a decade of mutual association.
In the meantime, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Usani Uguru, on Wednesday said the Federal Government has uncovered some shady deals by some of the contractors that handled projects in the Niger Delta region between 2009 and 2015.
He said while some of the contractors made away with the money paid them without appearing on the sites of the projects, some others managed to implement 12 per cent of the projects they were paid for.
Uguru disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the discoveries were contained in a report of an investigation carried out by the ministry on all contracts awarded and projects carried out by the ministry from 2009 to 2015.
The late Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan were the Presidents of the country during the period.
The minister said the report revealed that over N423bn had been expended in the region by the ministry alone, adding that the amount did not include the sums expended by other intervention agencies.
“From this amount, projects execution rate has been at 12 per cent with an average completion rate of a project standing at five years. The impact rate is eight per cent,” he said.
The minister said he sought and got the council’s approval to make the report available to relevant government agencies in charge of recovering government assets that were either misappropriated, misused or found to be idling in some quarters.
He said while those who deserved sanctions would be punished, others who needed to return to sites would be compelled to do so.
He said, “With this, it means all those who have accessed government resources for one purpose or another must be compelled to make adequate use of same, otherwise they will face the recommendation that goes with such violations.
“That is our position concerning that report and we have received council’s approval for that.
“Sixty per cent cost has been paid out to contractors with 12 per cent completion rate. Sixty per cent of the amount of money appropriated which is N700bn, 60 per cent of that constitutes N423bn.
“To find that such money has been spent in that region with the kind of work we see, shows that there is something tangibly and obviously wrong with how procurement had been carried out in the ministry.
“The number of projects awarded was 427 and there is no uniform action by each of the contractors. So, the measure of action to be taken to address the shortfall of our expectations or commitment to contractual agreements will be the determinant of what will be done.
“Those that require sanctions will be sanctioned. The sanctions may not be uniform. It will be according to the measure of liabilities hold by each of the contractors.
“Some will be compelled to return to site. Some, of course, should be made to refund money, those who we have seen by their actions displaying criminal intent by collecting money and not appearing at sites at all.
“The report is not just all about punishing people. There are also those who have performed well and are commended and the report recommended that they should be encouraged to carry on in their contractual commitments.
“The report has also recommended that sanction will be taken against officers. There are rules. I don’t know if they will amount to purge.”
Additional report from Punch