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FG paid N5bn without financial pact on rural telephony, panel told

Posted by By JAMES OJO, Abuja on 2008/04/25 | Views: 444 |

FG paid N5bn without financial pact on rural telephony, panel told


The House of Representatives Committee on Communications was on Thursday told how the Federal Government paid N5 billion to three Chinese companies without signing the required financial agreements for the rural telephony project.

The House of Representatives Committee on Communications was on Thursday told how the Federal Government paid N5 billion to three Chinese companies without signing the required financial agreements for the rural telephony project.

As a result of this, Chief Technical Officer of Rural Telephony in the Ministry of Communications, Engr. Chike Uwazie, said it had become impossible for Nigeria to get the remaining counterpart funding of the $2.5 billion for the project.
The three Chinese companies that shared the contracts for the installation of a wireless telephone for the 774 local government areas in the country are ZTE, Huame and Shangai Bell.

Ukazie informed the committee, led by Jerry Manwe, that the N5 billion represents the 15 per cent counterpart fund of a loan to be financed by the Exim Bank of China, adding that until the financial agreement is signed with the bank, no dime could come to the country.

Officials of the Ministry of Communications and former Minister, Kayode Anibaba, could not convince members of the committee on why the Federal Government was advised to pay contractors when the financial agreement was not yet in place.
Anibaba almost lost his cool trying to justify why the second phase of the project had to start when the first phase was not ready.

On several occasions, Hon Manwe had to calm Anibaba down, assuring him that the committee was not out to witch hunt him and that the committee was on fact finding mission to verify the reports of the ad-hoc committee set up by the leadership of the House to look into why the project was stalled.

Director of Rural Telephony, S.S. Ahmed, had told the committee that former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, directed the commencement of the second phase after he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Chinese government during a state visit to China. He said that after he was moved to the ministry, he undertook a tour of rural telephone projects and discovered that some had been completed and awaiting connectivity with NITELís Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN).

The sum of N430 million was provided for in the 2006 budget, but was not accessed because of delay in getting the Due Process certificate, which Uwazie said came on August 2007.

The committee was also told that though the second phase of the projects had been awarded to the Chinese companies, the ministry was still searching for the sites to locate the base stations.
Anibaba said it was possible for contracts to be awarded before the sites are chosen, saying that what was important was to have the locations for the projects in each of the local governments listed to benefit from the programme.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.