Defence/Security

SMEDAN, BCDA mostly used to embed constituency projects —ICPC

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has identified two agencies it alleged are mostly used to pad the budget.

They are the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

The Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made this known at a two-day National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Service, organised by ICPC in Abuja on Tuesday.

Owasanoye said the discovery formed part of the findings of the ICPC’s Constituency Project Tracking Initiative (CPTI) launched in April.

“We discovered that some agencies of government are favourites for embedding of constituency projects irrespective of their core mandate and capacity to deliver or supervise projects.

“The attraction appears to be either corrupt tendencies within such agencies or the inherent weaknesses within them.

“Most notorious in this regard are Border Communities Development Agency and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, it was discovered that MDAs duplicate contracts for projects using the same description, narrative, amount and location of award.

He said the aim was to ensure that either the amounts allocated for the projects remained within the approval threshold of the executing agency or allocations were diverted to sponsors of the projects.

“Many of the contracts were inflated yet poorly executed. Substandard items were used against specifications in the Bill of Engineering Measurements and Evaluation (BEME).

“These diminished the value of the projects to the intended beneficiaries. Many projects were also not built to specifications.

“Some contracts were awarded without standard contract documents available to assist quantity surveyors evaluate state of project in line with the contract,” Owasanoye said.

He disclosed that under the pilot phase of the CPTI, the commission had tracked and ensured the completion of 255 out of 424 projects in 12 states across the six geo-political zones.

According to him, a total of N24.3 billion was appropriated for the selected 424 projects out of which N22.2 billion was awarded in contracts.

The ICPC boss stated that by monitoring the projects and enforcing completion, the commission had saved the government not less than N2 billion.

He explained that the amount was saved through recovery of diverted materials and equipment for school, hospital, farm, water and energy projects.

Owasanoye stated that the initiative had seen “marginal improvement in the use or supply of substandard materials and recovery of money from over valuation”.

He said that the ICPC has also identified loopholes and put in place preventive measures for future projects.

“We forced 34 contractors back to site in the selected states and a cumulative number of 200 contractors back to site across the country in states where we have not commenced enforcement activities.

“In line with the government’s vision we prioritised education and health projects which made up almost 60 per cent of projects we inspected nationwide,” he said.

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

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