40 days to go, FEC approves over N100b contracts
• $3.1b e-Customs project gets new concessionaire amid court injunction
• Customs gets N3.4b approval for new aircraft
• Council okays N15b for e-NSITF infrastructure upgrade
• NASS orders Sirika to stop demolition of aviation agencies’ offices in Lagos
With less than 40 days to go, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, approved a number of contracts running into billions of naira.
Also, despite warning on Tuesday, by two Senior Advocates of Nigeria that asked the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, to obey a court order in respect of a dispute on the multi-million naira e-Customs modernisation project, FEC, yesterday, granted approval for the implementation of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) modernisation project to a concessionaire.
The name of the concessionaire is Batman Security Consultants and Suppliers Limited as the project sponsor, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) as lead financier, while Weyway technologists will be trained as lead technical service provider.
According to a source, “the consigner has furnished us with $9 million security from the satisfactory performance of the project. They have also, as an off-taker, the depth facility in the sum of $300 million to finance the first phase of the project. The revenue sharing arrangement is 45 per cent of accruals to the comprehensive import service scheme, goes to the concessionaire and 55 per cent to the Federal Government, as well as 25 per cent of what accrues to the Nigerian export supervision scheme and 75 per cent to the Federal Government”
The senior lawyers, Ahmed Raji and Dipo Okpeseyi, had in separate letters, warned the AGF, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation of “underhand efforts being made to obtain FEC’s approval and or ratification of the re-award of the e-Customs Modernisation Project.
Specifically, the lawyers asked FEC to suspend, discontinue or discountenance any request to initiate deliberations or a fresh request for approval for the award of the said contract to any other bidder aside the original approval granted by FEC to Messrs E- Customs Project Limited.
A Federal High Court in Abuja had last year restrained the Federal Government from enforcing or giving effect to an agreement on the Customs Modernisation Project. Recall that FEC had in September 2020, approved the $3.1 billion e-customs contract, which is expected to completely automate every aspect of the customs business and institutionalise the use of smart and emerging technologies that will enhance the statutory functions of the Nigerian Customs Service.
On 20 February, 2023, the court had admonished all parties in the matter to preserve the rest of any matter before court and do nothing to interfere with the proceedings.
The agents, who allegedly executed the disputed concession agreement are the Nigeria Customs Service, Trade Modernization Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited and African Finance Corporation.
Also coming in the twilight of the administration, FEC yesterday approved some project contracts, following memos presented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, just as it approved the sum of N3.4 billion for the procurement of an aircraft by the nation’s Customs Service.
The Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the week’s cabinet meeting, chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
He said: “The Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning presented a couple of memos for which approvals were obtained. The first one was for the award of contract for the procurement of a Cessna Caravan aircraft by the Nigerian Customs in the sum of N3,447,442,710, inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with a delivery period of 12 months,” he said.
He said the aircraft will help a lot in carrying out air surveillance as well as curb the activities of smugglers.
“This aircraft is an addition to the current fleet in the Customs Service and it is aimed towards combating smuggling activities and enhancing intelligence gathering. It is also to provide aerial surveillance and reconnaissance for the customs across our borders,” Agba added.
He further disclosed that the sum of N45.9 billion was approved as augmentation for the cost of contracts for the construction of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (NDIC) head office building in Abuja and Lagos, including its training institute in Lagos.
For the Ministry of Works and Housing, the contract awards included an augmentation cost for the Ogun-Sagamu road project.
Giving insight, Fashola said: “The Ministry of Works presented four memoranda, all of which were approved. The first was for the augmentation of an existing contract in Ogun-Sagamu road. The contractor has run out of quantities and needs augmentation to finish the road.
“I think out of about 32km, they completed over 20km, which has been open to traffic. So, Council approved N6.972 billion augmentation for them to complete the road.”
Explaining further, he said a memo on behalf of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) sailed through Council with respect to the rehabilitation of five roads and the construction of one road.
He listed the roads to include Orogun-Owerugbo and associated roads in Delta State in favour of Mrs. UYK in the sum of N2.99 billion.
Others are rehabilitation of Gege to Garage road in Yobe State in favour of Mother Cat for N12.926 billion, rehabilitation of Geshua to Potiskum road in Yobe in favour of Thinker Point at N2.986 billion.
“The rehabilitation and construction of Onitsha-Aguleri to Adani road in Anambra State in favour of Commerce Steel and Construction at N2.499 billion, rehabilitation of Geshuwa-Yusufani road in Yobe in favour of Saha Continental Civil Engineering Limited at the sum of N1.99 billion and rehabilitation of Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe road section one, Oba UG 35km in favour of Ferotex Construction in sum of N2.499 billion. That was the second memorandum, which was approved,” he noted.
On the third memorandum FEC approved, Fashola said it was with respect to the augmentation of the Potiskum to Damaturu section four part of the Kano-Maiduguri highway, which is about 600km.
“Shuware to Azare and Azare to Potiskum will be open to traffic. This section – Potiskum to Damaturu – is also almost completed. There’s just an augmentation of N2.577 billion to cover escalation of cost in materials and to provide for lane markings.
“So, that the road can be fully finally handed over. That was a third contract that was approved. The fourth and final one is the approval for the construction and rehabilitation of 11 Federal roads totaling 737.242km in the sum of N1.535 trillion, under phase two of the NNPC tax credit scheme.
“You will recall that in January this year, I presented a memo that Council approved for NNPC to invest N4.9 trillion in a row. There were then about 44 roads that had been awarded that were under contract,” the Works and Housing Minister stated.
On why the government was bent on contracts award when the lifespan of the administration was coming to an end, Fashola said: “If the question is posed to Nigerians whether these projects should be left undone and transferred to the incoming administration, majority of the citizens would prefer it comes now because of the implications for job creation and stimulating the economy.”
Also, the Federal Government, on Wednesday, approved the phase two of the electronic Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, e-NSITF, which will enable concessionaire to upgrade the infrastructure for N15 billion.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who made the disclosure also said the Council granted approval for the amendment of obsolete laws in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standard.
MEANWHILE, the National Assembly, yesterday, ordered the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, to halt plans to demolish offices of aviation agencies in Lagos, for a new airport city project.
The Joint Committee on Aviation, headed by Senator Abiodun Olujumi, and Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, directed the minister to furnish them with details of the project, and other pending issues.
In response to the two-day warning strike by aviation workers’ unions, the lawmakers said most of the issues causing the agitations were not new, and wondered why they had continued to linger without solution.
The letter also directed the minister to furnish the committees with all the documents pertaining to the sundry issues raised by the workers which include: non-implementation of the consequential adjustment to national minimum wage by some of the agencies as agreed in February 2022; and non-release of reviewed Condition of Service (CoS) by the relevant government agencies for about a decade ago.
Also, the continuous threats of outright demolition of the aviation agencies, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) headquarters, without alternative provisions for their regional offices.