Last Thursday, the Nigerian media was awash with the outcome of the previous day’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the State House, Abuja.
Of particular note in the various reports was the directive by President Goodluck Jonathan that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigates an unnamed Chinese construction firm, which allegedly connived with some top officials of the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) to submit fake documents in an attempt to secure the contract for the construction of the 1.6-kilometre road directly servicing a port at Apapa, Lagos.
Information Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku, quoted the President, as having directed that concerned officials of the company, who allegedly signed the forged document, be handed over to the EFCC for a full-scale investigation, apart rom directing that the EFCC thoroughly investigates the contractor and the civil servants allegedly involved in the scam, and that those found guilty must face the full wrath of the law.
“The Federal Executive Council took a major decision to begin to take measures to check sharp practices in the process of contract award, especially at the Federal level.
“Last week, there was a contract that was probationarily given to a company to rehabilitate a 1.6-kilometre road in Apapa, Lagos.
“On the result of our findings, Council got the information clearly that there was still some problems with the information that was offered by the said contractor that tendered for the job.
“Under the Procurement Act, it is an offence for any contractor to give false information or forge document in order to win a contract.
“So the matter will be directed to the EFCC to investigate this particular contract because of the unverifiable claims contained in the contractor’s quest for the contract,” Maku said.
The state of the roads within the Lagos ports and the access roads to and from the facilities calls for concern. And the ante is upped by current developments over the alleged N2.2 billion road contract scam.
The alarm bells, no doubt, are ringing stridently for many a motorist, who has had cause to suffer the near-perpetual gridlock that the Lagos ports access roads offer.
It does not take soothsayer to project that this particular gridlock would remain for quite some time, certainly not with the much-awaited rehabilitation of the road network suffering such a terrible setback as the said scam.
Even more depressing is the fact that certain officials of the Federal Ministry of Transport, the supervising ministry of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the “landlord” of the nation’s ports, may have stooped so low and be deviant enough to work against ensuring that the “gateway to the nation’s economy” have the truly best qualified contractors for whatever works on the roads that requires that ministry’s inputs for execution.
We sincerely expect that the FEC stands by its decision that “henceforth, if anyone violates the Procurement Act, it will be investigated and if there is sufficient evidence for prosecution, we will recommend for the prosecution of all those who engage in sharp practices because they want to win a contract.”
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