The immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, awarded a contract for the same project twice to the same contractor at bloated cost, documents exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES has revealed.
The contract for the construction and drilling of 84 solar-powered boreholes across the 14 Local governments of Zamfara State was first awarded in 2014 to a Chinese firm, China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited, for N27.5billion.
The same contract was again awarded in 2018 with the same scope and at the same cost.
Worse still, the initial valuation communicated to the company when the state government first notified it of the award of the contract, was N19.7 billion.
However, on the letter of award of contract, dated October 3, 2013 and addressed to the Managing Director of the company, the total amount for the contract was stated as N27.5 billion.
Even so, when it came to paying, the government altered the figure yet again and paid the company N19.3 billion in 2014.
The infraction occured under the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and the findings have been confirmed by transition committee set up by the state’s new governor, Bello Matawalle.
In all, it seems the Yari administration inflated the contract by at least N8.2 billion, being the difference between what it paid and the amount the contract was awarded for.
The contract figure means the government constructed each solar-powered borehole at the cost of N327.4 million, significantly far higher than regular governments rates for boreholes.
As at 2019, the project was said to be at 75 per cent completion.
Surpirsingly, in 2018, the same contract was re-awarded to the same contractor at the same rate. However, the state government released N14.2 billion as part payment this time. This brings the outstanding payment for the second award of the contract to N13.3billion.
According to the document submitted to the transition committee by the state ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the outstanding payment due to the company from the contracts stands at N21.5 billion.
It is, however, not clear if the contract was re-awarded to the company to execute at different locations.
But a member of the transition committee, Nura Almajiri, told PREMIUM TIMES that none of those projects exists in any of the 14 Local governments.
“As part of our on the spot assessments, we visited these areas and I can authoritatively tell you that none of these projects exists,” Mr Almajiri said.
The spokesperson to the former Governor, Ibrahim Dosari, said the former administration had nothing to hide in regards to its stewardship.
“The government of Yari had nothing hiding,” he said in a message sent to PREMIUM TIMES. “You need to go down to Zamfara and make your enquiries, as we are now out of government.”
He accused political opponents of trying to blackmail the former governor.
A representative of China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited whose name was given as Mr Cho declined comments on the issue.
He directed all questions and enquiries to the state government.
“I have nothing to tell you, go to the state government and find out,” he said curtly before ending the telephone call.
BREACH OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENTACT
Between 2014 and 2018, the government of Mr. Yari also violated the Public Procurement Act by awarding contracts to companies not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
The law states that for a company to be eligible to execute a government contract, it has to be registered with the CAC.
“The procuring entity may require a bidder to provide documentary evidence or other information it considers necessary as proof that the bidder is qualified in accordance with this Act and the solicitation documents and for this purpose any such requirements shall apply equally to all bidders,” Section 16 Subsection 7 of the procurement act says.
In the case of Zamfara, the state government awarded 44 contracts to 44 companies for projects that included mostly building and rehabilitation of mosques and Islamic schools across the 14 local government areas of the state.
The total sum for all the projects was pegged at N543 million. Out of this, N401 million was paid to the contractors, while N142 million is outstanding.
Out of the 44 contracts, only seven were given to CAC-registered companies. The others were awarded to individuals without even company names.
According to documents, most of these projects are still ongoing while some were indicated to have been completed.
Mr Yari’s spokesman, Mr Dosari in defence of his principal, also denied the allegations.
“There is no contractor that was given contact under the immediate regime of Abdulaziz Yari without registration,” he said.
He challenged anyone with a contrary opinion to visit the Ministry of Justice in the state or CAC office in Gusau to verify.
But a check on the CAC website further revealed that none of the names was registered as companies with CAC.
Mr Dosari later stated that the government gave the contracts to individuals as part of its economic empowerment programmes.
He said the beneficiaries were grassroots politicians who had helped the government in one way or another.
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