By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives Committee on Sports has queried the Ministry of Sports for awarding a contract for the construction of a mini stadium at the rate of N269m above the N137m appropriated for it.
According to budget documents available to the committee, the mini stadium is to be cited in Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home town in Kastina state for which a budget approval was given by the National Assembly in 2017 and 2018.
The Chairman, Technical Sub-committee of the Panel, Hon. Abubakar Nuhu Damburam (PDP, Kano)had raised issues with the practice of awarding a contract over and above the amount actually appropriated, saying that it contravenes the appropriation act and creates unwarranted debts for government.
“The Ministry awarded a contract for a mini stadium in daura for N269m as against the N137m that was appropriated by the committee, tell me, how you can justify such an infraction of the appropriation act? “The appropriated sum was N137m and here you’re reporting an award of the contract to the tune of N269m. Not only have you violated the appropriation act, you have also created unwarranted debts for government by promising to pay what you don’t have”, Danburam said.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Olusade Adesola who represented the minister alluded to the fact that there was no justification for awarding higher than the appropriated amount. He said that lack of funding in 2017 led to the revaluation of the project having met with the contractors who said the cost had gone up.
He said, “the Ministry took the approach knowing that the project is a works related one which had to be awarded at once with the funding spread across the medium term expenditure period”.
Danburam, again discovered in the budget document that a Hilux SUV which was coated at cost N10m and approved was equally awarded for procurement at the rate of N25m.
A this point, Hon. Lazarus Ogbee, from Ebonyi said there’s nothing that justifies the award of contracts that are higher than the sums appropriated by the Parliament, threatening that “if the PermSec insists on defending it, the procurement committee of which I’m a member would formally take it up for investigation”.
He however, urged the PermSec to withdraw the document and effect corrections, which the chairman, Hon. Bukar Lawal Goni ruled on as adopted and agreed to by the PermSec.
The committee also resolved to suspend consideration of the Ministry’s 2019 budget pending assessments of federal stadiums across the country to ascertain the level of budget implementation on them.