Senate writes Finance Minister over N100bn gas project funds

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By Okechukwu Jombo

Senate Committee on Gas has written to the Finance Minister, Mr Wale Edu, asking him to provide within seven days details of the award and disbursement of over N100 billion to companies engaged in the handling of the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (P CNG) projects allegedly done in breach of the public procurement Act 2017.

The request is coming on the heels of fresh plan by the PCNG to release another N130 billion to 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.

But the letter asking the finance minister to furnish the committee with details of the award and disbursement of over 100 Billion 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 the Due Process and the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas Resources Senator Jarigbe Agom asked the minister to forward to the committee comprehensive records of the award and disbursement of over N100 billion and list of companies engaged in the handling of the project.

The committee in a letter dated January 9 and made available to journalists in Wednesday said ‘ am writing to request for comprehensive brief regarding the utilization of the sum of N100 billion allocated by the Federal Government for the development of Gas infrastructure aimed at providing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to Nigerians as an alternative to fossil fuels. Senator Jarigbe who warned the PCNG of the grave consequences of going ahead with such disbursement without approval by the Senate also said “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 in ensuring public trust and accountability in such initiatives.