By Iheanacho Nwosu and Chuks Akunna, Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts yesterday summoned former Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, over a N2.3 billion road contract which was awarded in 2001.
Anenih was the Minister of Works between 1999 and 2003 during the Obasanjo administration.
The contract, accrding to the committee, was abandoned under questionable and ignoble circumstances. Apart from Anenih, the committee also summoned the contractor of the abandoned project Torno Internazionale Nigeria Limited, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works when the contract was awarded and the Federal Road Comptroller of Works in Nasarawa State.
The move by the committee was followed a report of the Auditor-General of the Federation on the activities of the ministry which found it wanting in the handling of the road contract.
The contract which was awarded in September 2001 was for the reconstruction of a road in Nasarawa State. The completion date was earlier slated for April 18, 2003. However, the project was later abandoned by the contractor . The Auditor-General’s report disclosed that Torno Internationale executed only 19 per cent of the job, adding that the contractor was paid far in excess of the work done, stressing that no attempt was made to recover the N552million paid to the contractor as mobilisation fee.
The report said the contractor ought to have been paid N440.5million out of the contract sum, but said the contract file revealed that N919.3million was paid to him. Summoning Anenih, Chairman of the committee, Solomon Adeola, said the former BoT chair, who was the minister when the contract was awarded, has some explanations to make on the issue.
Specifically, he said the former minister is expected to defend the contents of a memo he allegedly presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which persuaded the government to approve the contract.
Adeola lamented the way public funds were being wasted in a country that had enormous infrastructure deficit. On what the committee would do with the owner of the construction firm, Adeola said the man is expected to give his own side of the story on the matter. He also disclosed that the committee was considering contacting the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to reveal the Nigerian directors of the contracting firm.