The Tragedy of Abandoned Projects – by: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Published:31 Aug, 2012

The Tragedy of Abandoned Projects  – by: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
Eleven thousand, eight hundred and eighty-six (11,886) abandoned projects that will cost an estimated N7.78 trillion to complete! These alarming figures are from the report of the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee (PPAC) set up in March 2011, by President Goodluck Jonathan to look into cases of abandoned federal government projects. If the government does not start any new projects, it will take more than five years budgeting about N1.5 trillion annually to complete them all – and that is assuming no cost-over runs or delays!

Ordinarily, these figures should compel the government to accelerate the completion of all ongoing projects, or at least focus on high priority ones. Unfortunately, this has not been the case: Government would rather continue the weekly charade of awarding new contracts or re-awarding old ones at higher prices during its weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings.
As trillions of naira are being wasted in the name of public projects, it is important to understand issues like how projects are initiated, bid for, negotiated and awarded and why they get abandoned. Who and what are really responsible for abandoned projects? Are poor planning, haphazard procurement, and incompetent project management the key causes or is it financial mismanagement? In spite of mobilization fees already paid, why is nobody held accountable when projects are not completed? How far can the Bureau of Public Procurement or other agencies with requisite mandate go to address the root causes of abandoned projects?
There is a need to briefly examine how projects are initiated and contracts awarded. The first step ought to be conception of projects that fit within a scheme of national vision, strategy and development programs. As we have stated in this column, a 27-page “transformation agenda” tucked away in the website of National Planning Commission falls short of this. This “agenda” is largely inconsistent with the Federal Ministry of Finance medium term sector strategies and budgeting priorities for 2011 and 2012. Most projects are therefore conceived out of nowhere and lacking in internal coherence and consistency with other programs.
Next is to plan and design the project in detail. Assume a road is to be constructed between two locations, the rights-of-way must be surveyed, levels taken, alignment finalized, road designed, and detailed drawings, bills of quantities and other bidding documents prepared prior to inviting pre-qualified engineering contractors to submit competitive tenders. The design development process can take anything between some months to more than a year, while it takes a minimum of 5 months from advertising invitations for bids to presentation to the FEC or other approving authority. This suggests that design and procurement processes for any project ought to start at least a year or two before being budgeted for. This only happens in a few foresighted agencies (MDAs).
Typically, nothing happens until the budget is passed and cash backed, then the implementing MDA begins the fire brigade work of compressing this timeline into a few weeks! Most MDAs wait until projects are included in budget or the budget passed before they start project surveys or design or the procurement process. When an MDA spends at least 5 months on procurement, how much time does the contractor have to execute the project and draw down the funds before the financial year runs out?  This becomes a big issue as MDAs are required by law to return all unspent funds to the treasury by the year end.
To understand why projects get abandoned, we must also understand the pervasive lack of continuation in policies as occupiers of political offices change. Whether it is long term development plans or contracts for critical infrastructure, the repeated practice in Nigeria is that once new people are in office, policies or programs of the previous administration are abandoned. This unwillingness to ensure policy continuity is the root cause of nepotism, corruption and impunity, as officials often re-award such contracts to cronies and generous campaign donors at inflated prices.
In this regard, the “democracies” have not fared better than the military in policy consistency. From Obasanjo’s NEEDS, to Yar’Adua’s Seven-Point agenda, and now, Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda – there has been continuity of policy inconsistency within the same ruling party – and turning projects that would have ordinarily benefited the populace into drain pipes. Critical examples are the N52m Zobe dam in Katsina, commissioned in 1983 by the Shagari regime; not only has several times the original amount been spent on the project, it has not pumped up a single liter of water. And the Ajaokuta Steel Complex which has gulped about N675bn, but still not produced much steel.

When projects are abandoned, the usual reason given is lack of funds, though often it is the pre-contract mishaps already alluded to, and project management deficits that are the fundamental causes. How can funding constraints be blamed for project failures? Should one not wonder why a project is approved in the absence of adequate funds? In fact, section 4 (2) (b) of the Public Procurement Act 2007, states plainly that all procurement shall be ‘based only on procurement plans supported by prior budgetary appropriations; and no procurement proceedings shall be formalized until the procuring entity has ensured that funds are available to meet the obligations and has obtained a “Certificate of ‘No Objection’ to Contract Award” from the Bureau’. Simply put, the law requires that no contract should be awarded if funds are not available for it from the onset!
It is intuitive that abandoned projects fuel corruption and reduce public confidence in governance. The excuse of inadequate or delayed funding may sometimes be contrived.  Such an inference could be drawn as abandoned projects are more often than not re-awarded at unjustifiably over-bloated sums. The increased costs are subsequently justified by blaming inflation, exchange rates, labour and materials cost increases amongst others.
If we intend to check the abnormality of abandoned projects, the relevant laws have to be strictly adhered to.  Section 63 (1) of the Public Procurement Act which states thus: ‘In addition to any other regulations as may be prescribed by the Bureau, a mobilization fee of no more than 15% for local suppliers and contractors and 10% for foreign suppliers and contractors may be paid to a supplier or contractor …’ must be firmly applied.  According to the PPAC, it is not uncommon for contractors to be paid mobilization fees in excess of 50% of the contract sum, often in apparent violation of the law.

While the Executive arm of government is largely to be blamed for abandoned projects, it is not alone. The National Assembly (NASS) is liable as well by unlawfully and unconstitutionally inserting new, unplanned projects into Appropriation Bills expecting them to be implemented. The NASS has joined the executive branch in ignoring the funding needs of existing projects to completion and commissioning. Take the Zobe dam mentioned; does the representative of that constituency not have the responsibility to pursue and ensure the strict completion of projects in his constituency?  If the focus of the government is on development and service to the people, why should officials seek approval for new projects when unfinished ones do not enjoy adequate funding and sound project management?

The Public Procurement Act 2007 established the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) with the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP), as the regulatory authorities saddled with the oversight functions of monitoring procurement and implementation of federal projects across the country.  These statutory functions have been hampered by lots of challenges, including the late passage of the annual Appropriation Acts by NASS and abandonment of the procurement processes by the relevant MDAs if favored bidders turn out to be unsuccessful.

If properly sustained, the Due Process and Certification Mechanism started by the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit under Oby Ezekwesili, would have been one of the many benefits of the legislation. This has however not been the case because of policy discontinuities and the cravings of politicians to have unfettered discretion in awarding contracts.

The Federal Government needs to, as a matter of urgency, comply with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act. The government must curb the temptations or pressures to embark on new projects when so many remain uncompleted or abandoned. Desirable projects must be continued irrespective of whichever administration initiated them. The NCPP, which is yet to be constituted, should be urgently inaugurated to superintend the activities of the BPP, as opposed to the current scenario where the FEC usurps the Council’s statutory functions.

As you read this, the Federal Ministry of Finance recently announced the release of N300 billion for capital projects for the third quarter of 2012, bringing the total release for capital projects so far this year to N704 billion out of nearly N1.5 trillion for the year. Most citizens will not feel the impact of this amount because the planning, procurement and project management processes are still fraught with nepotism, corruption and impunity that many projects may end up on the abandoned projects list – after billions have been paid as fungible mobilization advances. Our nation must do better. We must demand that our leaders do better!

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Friday August 31st 2012

 

  • @engranayo

    Sincerely i weep as i read this, i really wonder if our leaders re human beings or Aliens sent to ruin our future. How can sane men n women allow such decadence to occur. Sometimes i can’t comprehend y our leaders indulge in corruption. #GodsaveNigeria

Related Posts

Recent Posts

IPOB: Another Faction Emerges, Sacks Kanu

The crisis rocking the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), took a new turn yesterday as another faction which goes by the name Reformed Indigenous People of Biafra (RE-IPOB) emerged. Two days ago, The Rebranded Indigenous People of Biafra (TRIPOB) emerged and threatened to burn the Biafra flag publicly on October Spokesman for the new group, Ikemba Biafra, disclosed that it has sacked the IPOB led by the detained Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and the Chima Philip Effiong...

NSCDC Destroys 450 Illegal Refineries, Arrests 3000 Vandals

The commandant general, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC),  Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu said the corps has destroyed about 450 illegal refineries,  arrested over 3,000 vandals and confiscated a lot of vehicles which were forfeited by the court and auctioned off since he assumed office in July, 2015. The NSCDC boss who stated this when he played host to the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru , requested that the corps ...

Soyinka Urges Buhari To Dialogue With Militants

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to hearken to the agitations of Niger Delta militant groups, who have had to resort to insurgency and bombing of oil pipeline in recent months. Soyinka made the call while addressing journalists at the launch of Study Abroad in Lebanon (SAIL) initiative in Lagos on yesterday. The elder statesman, who said he was recently contacted to play an interventionist role...

US Hostage ‘Tortured And Raped By ISIS Leader’ Speaks From Beyond The Grave

An American aid worker taken prisoner by ISIS terrorists describes her experiences in a harrowing footage taken before she was killed in an airstrike. Kayla Mueller was forced to marry ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi , and was reportedly tortured and constantly raped before her death last year. In the proof of life video, which was made by ISIS and sent to her parents, who have just released it to ABC , she says: "My name is Kayla...

Mikel’s Father Unhappy With FG

Pa Michael Obi, father of the national Under-23 team captain Mikel Obi, has expressed his disappointment over the treatment of the team after winning bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Pa Obi said that he had expected his son to lead the team to the country to be given a rapturous welcome and a presidential reception, but lamented the majority of the  players left for their clubs after beating Honduras 3-2 in the bronze medal...

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Tops Forbes Highest Paid Actors 2016 List

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has been named the highest-paid actor by Forbes magazine after commanding $64.5 million between June 2015-June 2016.He doubled his earnings from last year, and jumping up from 11th place. A large amount of his earnings comes from roles in San Andreas, HBO series Ballers and the Fast & Furious franchise, as well as upfront fees from Fast 8 and Baywatch.In reaction, he tweeted Want to say two things about this. I started w/ $7...

INEC To Deploy 18,511 Personnel To Edo

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will deploy a total of 18,511 officials to conduct the Edo governorship election; the election management body announced yesterday. The commission also yesterday announced that a total of 1,925,105 voters had been registered for the election in the 18 local government areas of the state. The details of the personnel being deployed for the election showed the division of the state into 192 Registration Areas (RAs); 2,627 Polling Units...

Kerry’s Visit To Nigeria Discriminatory- CAN

The President of the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN), Rev. Supo Ayokunle, has faulted the recent visit to Nigeria by United States Secretary of State, John Kerry. He described it as discriminatory and aimed at furthering agenda by the Federal Government to persecute the country’s Christians. Kerry, during the two-day trip had, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, visited the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, and also met with the 19 northern governors.In a...

Reuben Abati: The Man Who Named His Dog Buhari

The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog – George Graham Vest (1870)  Joe Fortemose Chinakwe, the man who named his dog after President Muhammadu Buhari is right now probably regretting his decision to honour his dog with the name of a man he considers his hero. He has been accused of...

Dog Named Buhari, Presidency Explains Why Buhari Didn’t Intervene

President Muhammadu Buhari saw the arrest and prosecution Joachim Iroko, a 41 year old trader arrested by the police in Ogun State for naming his dog ‘Buhari,’ as “a ‘laughable incident”, his spokesman, Garba Shehu, said late Thursday. In a short reaction posted on his Twitter handle, Mr. Shehu said those criticising Mr. Buhari for failing to act on the matter were “ignorance of the type of person he is.” “He enjoys cartoons and likes...

30 Year Old Man Sentenced To Jail For Stealing Yam And Vegetables

Abeokuta Magistrates’ Court in Isabo, on Thursday remanded a 30-year-old man, Samodi Olorodo, in prison custody over the alleged theft of 18 tubers of yam and a bunch of vegetables. The accused, who is of no fixed address, pleaded not guilty to the one count-charge preferred against him. The Prosecutor, Insp. Olakunle Shonibare, told the court that the offence was committed on Aug. 1 at about 10:00 a.m. in the Oke-Odo Area of Osiele, Abeokuta. Shonibare said the accused stole 18 tubers...

Bring Back Our Girls Or Resign, Chibok Families Tell Buhari

Relatives of the abducted Chibok girls have accused the federal government of abandoning their daughters to suffer in captivity, and have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign if he cannot rescue the girls. The relatives spoke yesterday in Abuja after they were stopped by security operatives from reaching the Aso Rock presidential villa to see the president. The protest march, the second in a week, was organised by the BringBackOurGirls group. The relatives of the...

Issuance Of Passport In Canada, Best So Far – Dabiri-Erewa

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has said the issuance of Nigerian passport in Canada is stress-free. Dabiri-Erewa dismissed an old CBC video circulating on social media creating an impression that Nigerians in Canada go through hell in securing a new Nigerian Passport. According to her: “This is not true.” Dabiri-Erewa explained further: “The video in circulation was broadcast on CBC in 2013 and the...

NYSC Seeks UN’s Intervention In Camp Development, Others

The Director-General, National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Brigadier-General Sulaiman Kazaure, has requested for the United Nation’s intervention to address the problem of deficit in Orientation camp infrastructure, as well as capacity building for members of staff of the scheme. nyscmembersnyscmembersAlso, the DG sought the world body’s assistance in the establishment of the skills centre for corps members undergoing entrepreneurship programme in the country. Kazaure made the requests, Thursday, when he received the Country Director of UNAIDS, Mr. Bilali Camara, in his...

UEFA Announces Champions League Changes

European football's governing body has confirmed the top four ranked associations will receive four automatic places in the Champions League from 2018-19 UEFA has announced the top four ranked associations will receive four automatic spots into the Champions League from 2018-19, bypassing the qualification process. The governing body has released a series of changes which are set to come into Europe's elite club competition. Amongst the changes are a new club co-efficient system starting from season 2018-19 and also a new system...

She Has Fainted: Will She Go Into Comma? – by Tijani Sheriffdeen

If one begins to ask questions of what is wrong with our nation? One won’t stop until the Cock starts growing teeth. Just ask asking questions of how Nigeria got to plunge herself in this mess won’t get an answer, even after the wait of a century! Wait, does it mean we can’t explain how Nigeria found herself in this trying time? I was at a conference one bright Monday, smiling and in my normal self until one of the...

#Rio2016: Nigeria Won All Medals For Participation – by Tijani Sheriffdeen

Olympic is not to win but to participate. This must have been the words that motivated our great country to show only participation in the just concluded Olympic event in Brazil; Rio16. But come to think of it, those countries that went home with gold, silver and bronze medals, don’t they have an inkling of what the words above mean? They should also have come to participate like Nigeria so that at the end we may all leave together...

Official: Man City Sign Bravo from Barcelona

The Chile international has moved to the Etihad Stadium on a four-year deal to replace Joe Hart, who is now expected to leave the club before the transfer window closes Manchester City have completed the signing of Claudio Bravo for a fee believed to be in the region of £17 million. Bravo will earn around £100,000 per week after signing a four-year deal at the Etihad Stadium, almost double what he...

Oga Boss Retires From Music?

Nigerian rapper/hip-hop recording artiste, Tobechukwu Melvin Ejiofor, popularly known by his stage name Illbliss, announced his supposed retirement from music, via his Instagram page, today. Do we just believe and say Good bye to Our Very own Notorious BIG or just know this is another stunt and the Goretti Boss would be back soon? Watch this space.

Abducted Kaduna lawmaker, Ibrahim Ismail, Regains Freedom

A member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon Ibrahim Samaila, who was kidnapped by unknown gunmen at ?Abakpa community in Kaduna North on August 22nd, has regained his freedom. Although N70 million ransom was reportedly demanded for, the lawmaker representing Tudun Wada Constituency, was released on Wednesday evening and has since reunited with his family. Kaduna State Police Command spokesman, ASP Aliyu Usman, confirmed this but did not...

Four World Bank Officials Drowned In Ekiti Dam

Four World Bank officials had been reportedly drowned at Egbe Dam in Egbe Ekiti, Gbonyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports. Egbe Dam is the biggest of the six dams in the state. Mrs Folasade Akinrinmola, the chairman of the council and the state police command confirmed this development to newsmen on Thursday. Akinrinmola said that the incident which occurred on Wednesday’s night involved a team of...