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Reps grill NPA over N5.1b hqtrs renovation contract

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• Groups fault N37b vote for N’Assembly complex renewal

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has grilled the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over an N5.1 billion contract for the renovation of the agency’s corporate headquarters in Lagos and relocation of some of its offices.

The Auditor General of the Federation had queried the deal awarded in 2011 with a completion period of 15 months for lacking valid papers and contractors.

Speaking yesterday during the interrogation of the NPA management, led by its Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, the committee chairman, Wole Oke, faulted the award of such a big project with a legal document.

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However, the NPA boss insisted that due process was followed having been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
But the panel countered, stating that only the original copies of the agreement that could exonerate the agency.

Oke held that the photocopies before the committee were not readable, ordering that the audit query be stepped down for NPA to produce the originals.

The AuGF’squery claimed that as of 2013 when the contract ought to have been completed after full mobilisation, there was no valid contractual pact in place.

Meanwhile, the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) have faulted the N37 billion allocation for the rehabilitation of the National assembly complex.

CHRICED’s Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, told reporters yesterday in Abuja that the proposed expenditure was misplaced, noting that the funds could be channelled to other pressing needs of the citizenry.

He likened the action to the “misappropriation of the nation’s financial resources by the ruling elite in the country.”

The activist maintained that the “act underlines the fact that even the billions of dollars borrowed externally will end up being used for frivolous expenses that add no value to the lives of the citizens.”

Zikirullahi thereby called on the government to review its borrowing plans, as “this could have serious consequences on future generations.”

Reacting through a statement, MOSOP President, Fegalo Nsuke, described the contemplated expenditure as wasteful, adding that there were productive and job-creating areas the money could be deployed.

He said: “In a country where hunger, poor medical care, poor sanitation, weak power supply, and insecurity are critical problems, we consider it wasteful and a misplaced priority.

“MOSOP regrets the spending of that huge amount of money on renovating a parliament complex when critical sectors of the economy are collapsing. The amount could create 100,000 jobs for Nigerians.”

Nsuke, therefore, stressed that “national service should not be turned into a lucrative business, as we suggest pay cuts for political office holders to accommodate maintenance of their facilities.”

He urged government to focus on creating jobs and investing in social security.

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