BudgIT queries works ministry’s award of N9.3bn road project to microfinance bank

BudgIT, a civic organisation that tracks public spending, has raised questions about the award of a road project worth N9.3 billion to a microfinance bank by the Federal Ministry of Works.

In a statement released on Friday by its Head of Tracka, Ayomide Ladipo, BudgIT revealed that the Minister of Works, David Umahi, paid N8.6 billion to FIMS Microfinance Bank Limited between June and December 2023 for 62 projects, including the road project.

The statement said: “The road project, as shown on the Govspend platform, is the construction of Yaba-Yangoje Road in the Federal Capital Territory, which received N1.4 billion in September 2023. Other projects paid to the microfinance bank include the rehabilitation of roads in Oyo and Benue states.

“FIMS Microfinance Bank Ltd., according to its mission statement and website, was established on December 11, 2009, to offer microfinance services with a registration number RC 858800.

“The award of road construction contracts and others to this company breaches the Public Procurement Act 2007, which states in s.16 (6) (a) (i), (iii), and (iv) that: ‘All bidders shall have the necessary: (i) professional and technical qualifications to carry out specific procurements; (ii) financial capability; (iii) equipment and other relevant infrastructure; (iv) adequate personnel to perform the procurement contracts.’

“We urge the Honourable Minister of Works, David Umahi, to explain to Nigerians how these repeated violations and infractions happened in his ministry. We also ask the Bureau of Public Procurement to examine the transactions for breaching the Public Procurement Act 2007 and impose appropriate sanctions where necessary.”

Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s Country Director, commented on the gross mismanagement of public funds and blatant disregard for public procurement laws, stressing that public funds should be handled with the utmost care and a sense of duty to the common good of Nigeria and its people.”

“We have sent a Freedom of Information (FOI) letter to the Minister, requesting the procurement documents related to these payments to verify whether the transactions followed the law and expect a reply within seven days as the FOI Act requires,” Okeowo said.

The organisation appealed to the anti-corruption agencies, such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to investigate and scrutinise the payments and prosecute the offenders.

“We also encourage Nigerians to monitor the disbursement of public funds using www.govspend.ng and report any anomalies” the statement said.

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