After Bello Matawalle’s administration abandoned the Zamfara Airport Cargo Project, the current governor, Dauda Lawal, has accused him of embezzling billions of naira.
Lawal said that Matawalle’s government had conducted questionable transactions totaling over N6,775,949,561.50 related to the defunct Gusau Cargo Airport project.
On Thursday, the governor’s spokesman, Sulaiman Bala Idris, released a statement in which he said that his administration had been astonished to learn of the considerable financial mishandling of the abandoned Zamfara Cargo Airport project by the previous administration.
However, the governor has promised to bring individuals responsible for such wasteful spending to justice.
This is an excerpt from the official statement: “Upon assuming office, Governor Dauda Lawal constituted a five-member committee for that task and to further review among other things pre-contract activities to determine the progress of work done and the corresponding value to monies paid to contractors directed for the assessment and identification of the best approach to timely completion of the project.
Among other things, the committee’s report mentioned that engineering and architectural designs were provided by Avic International Engineering Limited. According to the findings of the investigation, the government agencies that should have reviewed the contractors’ designs, specifications, and bills of quantities did not do so. However, at the time the contract was awarded, no such paperwork existed.
Avic International Engineering Limited has been awarded a contract for the value of N11,551,899,123.00 as of the 15th of May, 2019, as stated in contract notice number FGPC/SEC/NOT/2019/055. The committee also noted that prior to beginning the project, clearances were not secured from the appropriate aviation sector regulatory agencies.
After construction had already begun on the site, a consultant named BJ Aerotronic Limited was brought in to oversee the undertaking and secure the required permits from the appropriate authorities. Without proper appraisal and verification from the appropriate Government Agencies, payments were given to the contractors.
Bills of Quantities in the contract may not match the engineering and architectural drawings and requirements.
“Total net payments made to the contractors were N3,465,569,736.90, of which N3,465,569,736.90 was paid as an Advance Payment by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on June 19, 2020; the sum of N2,310,379,824.60 was paid as the second instalment by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on June 19, 2020, in the name of a loan, (a term not familiar in governments’ contract procedures and management’); another
The total sum of these transactions was N6, 600, 989, 561.50. Following this, on January 31, 2022, N125,000,000.00 was paid to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and on the same date, N50,000,000.00 was paid to BJ Aerotronic Limited, ostensibly as a consultant fee.
Only the advance payment included payment vouchers; all other payments included mandates. Value-added tax (VAT), withholding tax, and other tax deductions were not indicated.
The abandoned project was paid for to the tune of N6,775,949,561.50 by the administration of former Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle.
The entire worth of the work done is N2,249,636,040.73, or 19.47% of the total, according to evaluations conducted by four separate independent businesses of specialists and relevant government organizations.
We conclude that the contractors were paid an amount that was not just disproportionate to the quality of their work but also outrageously disproportionate.
Because the project’s duration had ended and the contractor had made no effort or shown any intention to apply for an extension of time to continue the work, the committee concluded that the contractors were no longer interested in executing and completing the project, taking into cognisance the fraudulent ways the project had been carried out.
The contractors owe the government of Zamfara State more than N4,526,313,520.77 based on the findings of four competent consultants.
In the words of the government, “as a responsible government, we will continue to pursue all cases of mismanagement and ensure that what rightfully belongs to Zamfara is returned for the benefit of its people, and that anyone involved in the mismanagement is brought to book.”