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Senate introduces South West development commission bill, amends procurement law

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Ibikunle Amosun

ICPC returns 200 contractors to site, arrests 59 for alleged N3.9b fraud

A bill tagged South West Development Commission (SWEDCO) yesterday passed first reading on the floor of the Senate. The piece of legislation, listed as the 11th for consideration, was sponsored by former governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, and 36 others.

The bill, according to the lead sponsor, who addressed the media after plenary, was conceptualised to bring to the fore the huge infrastructure deficit in the zone.He said the gap had denied the region the opportunity of reaching its full potential.

Amosun said the bill is to engender the development of the entire South West.He, however, admitted that other parts of the country, particularly the North East geo-political, deserved special mention.

Amosun said the quest for the commission was by no means a mere request for a similar institution from other region to be located in the South West, but to drive infrastructure development with some special attention, especially as it would impact on the region.

Besides, the upper legislative chamber has begun debate on two bills to amend the Procurement Act for the purpose of facilitating faster execution of all capital projects.Both bills, which passed second readings yesterday, were sponsored by Senators Shuaibu Lau (PDP, Taraba North) and Uche Ekwenife, (PDP, Anambra Central).

They were later referred to the Committee on Public Procurement which is to revert back to the Senate in four weeks.In a remark during the debate on the general principles of the bills, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the inadequacies of the Public Procurement Act 2007 were largely responsible for the very low level of budget implementation yearly.He added that the National Assembly would expeditiously accelerate legislative work on the Act to allow for its signing into law to compliment the 2020 budget.

According to Lawan, the gains of returning the budget to the January to December cycle for timely implementation might be lost if the bills retain their current features.Also yesterday, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) said its ongoing Constituency Projects Tracking Initiative had forced over 200 contractors, who executed sub-standard projects, to return back to site.

Its Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a press briefing, added that the initiative had also created over 100 jobs across the federation since contractors remobilised.He further disclosed that the commission arrested 59 government officials over an alleged N3.9 billion fraud, adding that the ICPC had equally prevented over N1 billion meant for frivolities from leaving the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the last one month.

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Ibikunle AmosunSWEDCO
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