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  • News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: February 07, 2024

Senate grills finance minister, Edu on N100bn gas project fund

Senate grills finance minister, Edu on N100bn gas project fu

Senate Committee on Gas has asked the Finance Minister Wale Edu, to provide details of the award and disbursement of over N100 billion to companies handling Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (PCNG) projects, which allegedly violated the Public Procurement Act of 2017.

The request comes after the PCNG’s new plan to release another N130 billion to an unspecified number of companies, ignoring an earlier caution 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.K

The committee had previously praised President Bola Tinubu’s CNG measures, but asked him to promptly propose a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to finance such spending.

However, the letter requesting that the finance minister provide the committee with details of the award and disbursement of over N100 billion was in response to a new petition by a group known as the “Good Governance and Transparency Front,” alleging the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Presidential CNG Initiative of approving the disbursement of funds to cronies without following proper procedures and the Public Procurement Act of 2007.

The group further noted in the letter to the committee that the PCNGI has made no progress, despite the disbursement of 100 billion naira, since the PCNG has refused to recruit gas development specialists to execute the project.

Senator Jarigbe Agom, chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas Resources, requested that the minister provide the committee with detailed records of the award and disbursement of more than N100 billion, as well as a list of firms involved in the project.

The committee, in a letter issued January 9 that was made available to press on Wednesday, stated:

“I am writing to request a comprehensive brief regarding the utilisation of 100 billion naira allocated by the Federal Government for developing gas infrastructure aimed at providing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to Nigerians as an alternative to fossil fuels.”

Senator Jarigbe, who cautioned the PCNG of the serious implication of proceeding with such a payout without Senate consent, also stated: “The committee is seeking detailed information on the process followed in awarding and disbursing funds to the companies benefiting from the allocation.

I would appreciate insight into compliance of these processes with the Public Procurement Act 2007 provisions.”

“Specifically, the committee is interested in understanding the steps taken in opening bids, the qualification criteria applied, and subsequent awarding of contracts to selected companies. Transparency and adherence to due process are crucial in 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 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) use in the country.”

“I believe this information will be invaluable for our committee’s oversight responsibilities and will contribute to ensuring the government’s success and effectiveness in promoting alternative energy sources.”

“I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to receiving the requested information within seven days from receipt.”

“The requested information should be submitted in soft copy and 30 sets of hard copies to the clerk of the committee,” he said.

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