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Flooding: CSO urges FG to Pay up debts before awarding fresh contracts

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A civil society organization, CSO, and Accountability Forum based in the federal capital territory, FCT Abuja has frowned at the federal government’s alleged plans to award contracts to new contractors while others are still being owed.

It was alleged that the federal government through its Ministry of Works, was making plans to award about N60 billion contracts from the N185 billion budgeted for flood control infrastructure.

The CSO wondered why the government would rather award new contracts instead of paying contractors who have already worked and have completed their works but are still being owed even after the National Assembly, last month, amended the 2022 supplementary budget with the sum of N185 billion.

The approved sum was reportedly earmarked for payment to contractors handling work on flood control infrastructures.

The CSO is dissatisfied with the alleged plans and points that such award of contracts are directed at politicians who benefit in disguise.

In a statement signed by Magnus Anthony, the forum noted that what looks like a tender’s board meeting was held last Wednesday, in a bid to legitimize the multi-billion-naira contract.

“It is more annoying to say the least, when one recalls that the contract was clearly for items that have no direct bearing on flood control. For instance, why should money earmarked for flood control be used to award contract for solar street light or supply of Keke NAPEP”, the CSO queried.

The forum enjoined the permanent secretary in the ministry to urgently pay contractors by prioritizing those who have completed their work instead of awarding new contracts and insisted that the decision to use part of the money to award new contracts when contractors are being owed, was self-serving.

It alleged that the fresh contracts are awarded directly to some politicians or their proxies and insisted that most of the projects captured in the 2022 amended supplementary budget are being handled by elected officials.

“After cutting down the budget to N185bn, then some persons ensured that the bulk of the sum is allocated to projects handled directly by them or their proxies.

“Projects like construction of Kano-Kwanar Danja-Hadeijia road worth N28 billion is being handled by an elected official through his proxy.

“Other projects being handled by elected officials or their proxies include the N5 billion allocated under FERMA for completion of Yanfada-Kunchi-Bagwai road; construction of Yarmawa-Jakata-Farinruwa-Tsanyawa-Tofa road worth N6.2bn; N16.6bn Katsina-Ala/Takum road; rehabilitation of Kanya Babbura-Buban Mutum road in Jigawa which is to gulp N14bn.”

While calling for outright cancellation of the new contracts, Anthony said the CSO would not hesitate to mobilize for mass protest even as he threatened to drag key officials of the ministry to court should they not halt the planned contracts.

‘We will mobilize other organizations to protest against this brazen misuse of our common wealth,” he said, adding that the CSO was in support of the moves by some indigenous contractors to embark on protest against some officials of the works ministry.

He also enjoined relevant government agencies to investigate officials of the ministry of works.

“We call now, as we did earlier, on President Bola Tinubu to redress it immediately and reconsider his decision on the N500bn palliatives. The money should be returned and used for the flood control infrastructures which it was initially budgeted for”, he stated.

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