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Provide details of N100bn gas project, Senate tells finance minister

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The Senate Committee on Gas has given a seven-day ultimatum to the  Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, to provide details of the award and disbursement of over N100bn to companies engaged in the handling of the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas projects allegedly done in breach of the Public Procurement Act 2017.

The lawmakers noted that the request was coming on the heels of fresh plans by the PCNG to release another N130bn to an unspecified number of companies, ignoring an earlier warning by the Gas Committee that spending taxpayers’ money on the said gas infrastructure development projects without National Assembly approval would amount to extra-budgetary expenditure and 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.

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But the letter asking the finance minister to furnish the committee with details of the award and disbursement of over N100bm was 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 has 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 utilization of the sum of 100bn 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.”

It added, “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.

“Kindly provide documentation and details regarding the Committees that received funding, outlining the specific projects or initiatives they are undertaking to promote the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in the country.”

It added, “I believe that this information will be invaluable for our Committee’s oversight responsibilities and will contribute to ensuring the success and effectiveness of government’s efforts in promoting alternative energy sources.

“I appreciate your attention on this matter and look forward to receiving the requested information in seven (7) days from the date of receipt.

“The requested information should please, be submitted in soft copy and 30 sets of hard copy to the Clerk of the Committee.”

 

 

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