Senate summons Zainab Ahmed, Raji Fashola over variations in cost of contracts

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and her counterpart in the Works and Housing Ministry, Babatunde Fashola, SAN to appear before it and explain the variations in the cost of major federal highways being executed through the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

Also invited to appear before the Senator Olamilekan Adeola, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos West led Senate Committee on Finance in the next two weeks, are the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, the Managing Director of the NSIA, Uche Orji and the contractors handling the projects.

Some of the projects tagged Legacy Projects include Lagos-Ibadan Express Way, Second Niger Bridge and Abuja-Kano Expressway are being funded through a tripartite agreement between the ministries of Finance, Works and the NSIA.

Chairman of the Senate Committee who summoned Ahmed, Fashola and others, Senator Olamilekan Adeola extended the invitation to the Ministers and others at an interactive session with the MD of NSIA. According to him, the meeting was imperative to clear grey with regard to funding the road projects as well as variation in the cost of the projects.

Senator Adeola said: “On the issue of funding, by virtue of the information at my disposal and by what the Finance Minister made me understand, is that you are playing critical roles by providing funds for the legacy projects.

“As of today, two years down the line, only $300m is in the books as having been spent on the projects, 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.

“On that note, we would be bringing on board, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Works and Housing, the Managing Director of the NSIA, the Accountant General of the Federation, and the contractors who should be invited by the Minister of Works.

“I know there are variations already but we want to know the value and the scope of works that the variations cover. 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, for the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano and for the second Niger bridge.”

Orji in response to a question on the actual cost of the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway said only the Ministries of Works and Finance could provide the information needed by the Senators adding that some of the projects predated his agency.

He said, “Every day we argue out the issue of variation because any slight change affects my budget because I have a number that I’m working towards. Any change in the scope of work is a problem to us. I can’t answer some of the questions that border on variation and events that took place before I took over. We need to sit down with the active players in the award of the historical contract preceding our entrance.”

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