Senate gives Edun seven-day ultimatum on N100bn gas project

90

The Senate Committee on Gas has given the Finance Minister, Wale Edun, a seven-day deadline to provide details on the award and disbursement of over N100 billion to companies involved in the management of Presidential Compressed Natural Gas projects, which were allegedly done in violation of the Public Procurement Act 2017.

The lawmakers noted that the request came on the heels of the PCNG’s plans to release another N130 billion to an unspecified number of companies, ignoring an earlier warning from the Gas Committee that spending taxpayer money on the aforementioned gas infrastructure development projects without National Assembly approval would be extra-budgetary expenditure and a gross violation of the Public Procurement Act.

The committee had earlier commended President Bola Tinubu for the CNG initiatives but asked the President to urgently present a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to cover such spending.

The letter asking the finance minister to furnish the committee with details of the award and disbursement of over N100bn was a sequel to a fresh petition by a group known as “Good Governance and Transparency Front”, accusing the chairman of the Steering Committee of Presidential CNG Initiative of approving the disbursement of the funds to cronies without following due process and the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

The group, in the letter to the committee, also stated that the PCNGI had not made any progress even with the disbursement of N100bn because the PCNG refused to engage experts in gas development in the execution of the project.

The Chairman of the committee, Jarigbe Agom, asked the minister to forward to the committee comprehensive records of the award and disbursement of over N100bn and a list of companies engaged in the handling of the project.

The committee in a letter dated January 9 and made available to journalists on Wednesday said, “I am writing to request for comprehensive brief regarding the utilisation of the sum of N100bn allocated by the Federal Government for the development of gas infrastructure aimed at providing Compressed Natural Gas to Nigerians as an alternative to fossil fuels.

“The committee is seeking detailed information on the process followed in the award and disbursement of funds to the companies benefiting from the allocation. I would appreciate insight into the compliance of these processes with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

“Specifically, the committee is interested in understanding the steps taken in the opening of bids, the qualification criteria applied, and the subsequent awarding of contracts to the selected companies. Transparency and adherence to due process are crucial aspects of ensuring public trust and accountability in such initiatives.”