An investigation has uncovered how Nigerian government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have continuously violated procurement rules in awarding contracts, actions that have helped undermine development and breed corruption.
And this has continued to be the practice despite the existence of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 that criminalize the award of contracts in violation of procurement rules.
For instance, section 58 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 makes it an offence with offenders liable to five or 10 years imprisonment for awarding contracts without due process and in line with the law. While section 38 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 makes it an offence for contracts that are not awarded in compliance with procurement rules.
Although, there exist laws that regulate contract awards in Nigeria to ensure there is no room for corruption, transparency and accountability upheld in the entire process, investigations by MAWA Foundation have uncovered how MDAs are engaged in an apparent abuse of the laws and are awarding contracts in total disregard and breach of the law.
N14.064 Million Angwan Gede Community Solar Street Light
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture And Rural Development, in total violation of the Public Procurement Act and Fiscal Responsibility Act, awarded a contract for the installation of 15 units of Solar Street Lights at Angwan Gede Community in Kuje Area Council of Abuja, the Nigeria capital city.
The contract that was awarded to Mertai Multi-Service Limited, a company registered on April 6, 2009, and has its operation at Plot 439 Lobito Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja, was carried out without procurement process followed.
In efforts to ascertain adherence to the procurement process in the award of the contract by the Agric Ministry, using the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) a request was made to the ministry to show a tender bid, reports, and evidence that the procurement process was followed in award of the contract.
The Agric Ministry in disobedience to the law has since refused to respond to the request.
Although the Agric Ministry did not answer the FOI request, a senior official in the procurement department who spoke but did not want his name mentioned, said the ministry was notorious for the abuse of procurement processes and violation of procurement laws. He, however, alleged that virtually all companies that got contracts with the Agric Ministry bribed their way through.
“Why are you bothered about procurement procedures in Agric Ministry, I can tell you for free, virtually all the companies that got a contract to execute projects under the ministry bribed their ways through”, the official said.
“Go and speak to the contractors, if they are sincere, they will tell you how much they paid to secure contract award, these things are not free, money must exchange hands,” the official added.
When MAWA Foundation visited Plot 439 Lobito Crescent, Wuse II, an address Mertai Multi-Service Limited claims to be operating from, no such company was found. Mr. Ephraim Ogbonia, who spoke at the premises, said he was not aware of such a company having an office in the area.
Worse still, a visit to Angwan Gede Community in Kuje Area Council of Abuja, showed that despite the money being paid to the contractor, nothing was done and the project was not executed.
Community residents who spoke on the matter during the visit and conducted our officials around, said the only solar street lights in the area that are not more than four, were installed eight years ago at the Baobab Tree area and have since stopped working a long time ago.
When asked if they were consulted regarding the project award, the residents all answered in affirmation that nothing of that whatsoever
Mr. Amza, a community resident and youth leader said there was no project of such carried out at the community, and wondered why there would be consultation when there is no such plan to install solar street lights in the community.
“You do not need to ask if there was any consultation with the community regarding the contract award and the selection of the contractor, in the first instance, there is no such project in the community, so of what use is the consultation”, Amza said.