FEC Steps Down Major Project Memos Requiring Cost Augmentation

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday stepped down memoranda for some major projects that require additional funding, especially projects under the purview of the Ministry of Works. 

Briefing newsmen after the FEC meeting presided over by President Bola Tinubu at the State House, Abuja, Information and National Orientation Minister, Mohammed Idris, explained that projects affected are those that were inherited from past administrations

which require augmentation. 

According to him, President Tinubu has directed a thorough examination of these projects to ensure probity, proficiency, and diligence in their execution, adding that the review will be discussed further at the next FEC meeting.

He further disclosed that the Council directed the Minister of Works, David Umahi, to work with his Budget and Economic Planning and  Finance counterparts to steamline all projects contained in the memoranda for appropriate funding intervention.

His words: “So today, we didn’t have so many projects that were approved as a result of that, but of note is to say that Mr. President, in line with his thinking of ensuring that there is probity, proficiency and diligence in project execution, has directed that all projects that require additional funding, especially major projects of the Ministry of Works, be looked at once again, so that there will be further deliberation on that at the next council meeting”.

Idris clarified that the Lagos-Calabar Highway and other newly approved roads by the administration of President Tinubu are not part of the projects, but that the Council is ready to reconsider and re-prioritise most of the inherited projects under the Federal Ministry of Works while it sources for alternative funding and re-evaluate those that can be completed.

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He said: “Those projects that were required to be stepped down are part of inherited projects from 13 years ago some of them were inherited from past administrations and they are now been streamlined and worked out to ensure they are completed installmentally the Lagos-Calabar Highway is not suffering budget augmentation.

“Most of the projects are those carried over due to variation and the Council has decided to ensure that all the projects should be stepped down they will not be thrown away but will be reconsidered and re-prioritised and the government will source for funding for the projects and the government will look at those that can be completed”. 

The Minister stressed that the projects were not only kept in view for funding reasons but due to other variables.

“Not only because of funding but other variables are being considered, it’s not an abandonment and augmentation and review are not for new projects all new projects awarded do not have augmentation now Lagos Calabar is new and does not have issues or need for augment or review”.

The FEC also on Wednesday decided to revamp the National Council on Procurement, which has been ineffective for the past 17 years. 

Idris announced that a bill to strengthen the Council has been sent to the National Assembly and has passed its first reading in the House of Representatives.

He explained that the aim of this is to establish a robust procurement council that will enforce financial discipline and scrutinize all aspects of procurement, aligning with the President Tinubu’s vision. 

His words: “There is also a discussion around the National Council on Procurement. The Federal Executive Council is looking at that again. Recall that in the last 17 years, National Council on Procurement has not really been very effective. So Mr. President has submitted to the National Assembly a bill, which in fact has scaled through the first reading at the House of Representatives.

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“The whole idea is to ensure that we have a robust National Council on Procurement that will continue to look at all aspects of procurement, in line with the vision and to bring every project into the financial discipline that Mr. President is always talking about”, he explained.

Speaking in the same vein, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu disclosed that the Council has constituted an inter-ministerial committee headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to review the public procurement act. 

He explained: “President Bola Tinubu today in line with the desire to enhance more fiscal discipline and further demonstrate to Nigerians our commitment to serving them better, raised the issue of the reconciliation between the appropriation act, public procurement law and the fiscal responsibility act. The FEC has set up a committee under the chairmanship of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to review the public procurement act.

“However, after a robust discussion  the president directed that all ministries department and agencies should review their intended procurement as provided for in the appropriation such that where there are gaps between appropriated sums and sums required to execute the projects, that can be brought to the attention of both the Ministry  of Budget and National Planning and Federal Ministry of Finance, such that the memo that the cabinet secretariat will  provide to  the FEC, will have clarity of where funding is expected to come from and recommendation so as to guide effectively the Federal Executive Council decision.

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“Mr. President, directed that the report of the public procurement committee be provided to him so that can take decisions accordingly”.

On his part, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), stressed that the review of the 17 year-old Procurement Act was long overdue and assured that before long a new procurement act will be ready for use by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

According to him: “The position of Council on Procurement Act is that it is long overdue, the last time it was touched was in 2007. Even the boy or a child born in 2007, by now should be getting prepared to enter university and because of the changing dynamics, it is important to bring these act to be in tandem with the happenings in the society. 

“So that was why Mr. President directed that a good basis of performance, especially when it comes to infrastructure development is to ensure that we have a solid  procurement act in order to avoid corruption and also stem the tide of abandoned  project. 

“So very soon we’re going to have a new brand of Procurement Act which, you know, speaks to the fiscal discipline of the present administration under the leadership of President Tinubu”.

Deji Elumoye

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