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Zamfara’s government has denied Matawalle’s latest assertion regarding the Gusau Cargo Airport

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With regards to the Gusau International Cargo Airport project, the Zamfara State government has once again pushed back against the previous administration in the state led by Bello Matawalle, who is currently the Minister of State for Defense.

According to BANKPAWA, Matawalle denied theft of billions of dollars from the Zamfara cargo airport project last Friday.

The spokesperson for Zamfara Governor Sulaiman Bala Idris, however, argued that Matawalle’s reaction exposed a gross violation of trust in a statement made in Gusau.

His claim: “the tragic financial situation the current administration met in Zamfara State is manifestly a product of the past government of Bello Matawalle, who, through a mere telephone call, directed the Ministry of Local Government in complete disregard of any due process to remove 1,000,000,000 billion Naira from the Local Government Joint Account on October 25th, 2021, and paid 825,000,000 million Naira to the contractors without any valuation.”

Paragraphs from the statement read as follows: “The Zamfara State Government would normally not respond to an accused embezzler. Despite his rejection of the alleged embezzlement, we believe it is our duty as a responsible administration to present the facts.

There’s skepticism that the project’s price tag could have been cut from 28 billion Naira to 11 billion Naira. A 61% cost reduction without an equivalent reduction in the scope of work would be unacceptable to any credible bidder. The honesty of the bidding procedure is now in question. It would appear like Matawalle is attempting to undermine the contractor’s credibility.

“Matawalle has claimed that the Airport Project was financed through what he called ‘contract financing’; the former Governor should have asked before embarrassing himself.” The agreement between the bank and the contractor is known as a “Contract Financing Facility,” or CFF.

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No part of the government is involved. Based on the available evidence, it appears that the state’s general revenue was used to pay the contractors, rather than the CFF.

The assertion that the contractor was paid based only on certificates issued by the overseeing ministry or agency is untrue, and we feel compelled to stress this. According to our records, none of the three payments issued to the contractor were justified by a proper evaluation of the work performed as attested to by the supervisory ministry.

“For the record, an initial advance payment to the contractors was made on June 19, 2020, almost eleven months after the award, in the sum of N3,465,569,736.90, without the approval of the designs and bills of quantities of the project by relevant government departments; throughout the period, nothing was done to certify the drawings, bills, and secure necessary approvals of relevant airport regulatory authorities.

To the tune of N2,310,379,824.60, the government granted what it called a “loan” to the contractors only a few days after the original payment.

Even though not much work had been completed at the time, the payment was nevertheless labeled as a loan to the contractors. Incorrect vouching and lack of certification from the appropriate government agencies indicate financial mismanagement on the part of the government.

“Further, contrary to what is claimed by Matawalle’s statement, a dual highway from the roundabout to the airport, drainage, and gate has not been constructed. The contractor was given verbal and ad hoc instructions to build a connection from the main road to the airport roundabout. This was not made official during the Matawalle administration.

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It’s ludicrous to say that between 50 and 100 percent of the runway, taxiway, Apron, terminal building, water reservoir, boreholes, cargo hall, and fire service facilities are finished. Matawalle should be aware that the only way for a percentage of work to be completed to be calculated is in accordance with existing contract drawings and bills of quantities. The statements are false and misleading, but anyone who bothers to look at the existing contract terms and conducts site visits will see that immediately.

Despite the normal procedure in the aviation business, available records suggest that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, were not involved in the project until well into its development. Typically, they need to take part in every facet of the project from inception to completion.

“Matawalle’s allegation that the project was 50-100% complete raises the question of why the contractor was paid the sum of 6.78 billion Naira if the project was only 30% complete, equivalent to 3.47 billion Naira.

While the prior Governor was in office, all on-site work was measured jointly by the contractor and the overseeing Ministry. During the course of the project’s execution, measurements were recorded, and those logs are now available. This data was used to calculate the total value of the work completed to date: 2.25 billion Naira (19.47%).

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