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

President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo Declare Assets Publicly

The Presidency has released a statement declaring the assets of the president and his vice. The statement was released by Mallam Garba Shehu. Read the statement below: “Documents submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), show that the retired General has indeed been living an austere and Spartan lifestyle, contrary to what many might expect of a former Head of State of Nigeria and one who has held a number of...

Ford Foundation And The Future Awards Africa Tackle Youth Unemployment

The Ford foundation, as part of their efforts to empower young Nigerians, has partnered with The Future Project's The Future Awards Africa (TFAA) on the Ford Foundation Prize for Youth Employment. The award seeks nominees who have positively demonstrated, drive and action by individuals actively tackling youth unemployment with positive impact in their communities. The nominees will be selected from each of the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria of which successful applicants will be interviewed in...

@Allsocks_: Long Toenails Are Not Socks Friendly

Does the toe nail affect your socks in any way? As simple as the answer to this question is, it is funny how some guys want to keep their toe nails yet avoid holes in socks. Aesthetically speaking, toenails are available for painting and general beautification of the feet, most especially for ladies. Save for these stated reasons, toenails can cause so much discomfort when they hit the tip of your shoe each time you wear...

Godswill Akpabio: Where Charity Begins and Ends | Photos of His Uncommon Transformation Attached

By now it is no longer news that Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio was involved in an accident, the Governor is said to require medical attention and has since been flown abroad for the same. While ideally no one should celebrate another person’s misfortune, social media has been abuzz with a sense of karmic justice for the former governor and strong man; macabre in its nature, it is an...

19-Year-Old Accidentally Shoots Himself While Taking Gun Selfie

Deleon Smith, a 19-year-old father of two, was found dead in Houston, Texas, yesterday after accidentally shooting himself in the throat while trying to take a selfie, ABC 13 reports. Police say Smith was posting photos to Instagram with his cousin when the gun went off. According to KHOU, Smith attempted to take a photo with the gun pointed to his head when the gun went off. His uncle who lives...

12 Things Guys Will Never Understand About Bras

The pure relief you feel at the end of the day when you take them off.I've had this described to me on multiple occasions through a variety of different expressive mediums, and it sounds way better than how just taking off your underwear feels. If I had to draw a male parallel, it'd probably be the moment your balls touch the water as you jump in a pool on a hot summer's day. And...

Acid Attack Survivor Does Beauty Tutorials To Raise Awareness (WATCH VIDEO)

In 2014, Reshma's brother-in-law allegedly threw sulfuric acid on her face while she was visiting Northern India to take an exam. She lost her left eye as a result, and her right eye is partially closed and infected. She suffers from severe burns and disfigurement and will need cosmetic surgery to repair the muscles around her mouth. Reshma's video on how to get the perfect red lips begins much like any other beauty tutorial. In an upbeat voice, she advises viewers to...

Paris Hilton’s Expensive Diamond Ring Found In Poland

Paris Hilton got lucky in Poland when a firefighter found her extremely expensive diamond ring on a bus, but based on what we know there's something sketchy going on here. Paris apparently lost the diamond-studded ring Friday on an airport shuttle bus in the city of Lodz. Two days later, an airport fireman found it on the floor of the shuttle. Now here's the sketchy part. An airport spokeswoman says the fireman thought the ring belonged...

Oh My! Braless Rihanna All Over Doir Magazine

Called Bad Girl Riri for obvious reasons, Rihanna shares her edgy new photo shoot in the pages of Dior magazine. The pop princess flashed her nipples by going braless in the stunning structured gown, paired with a flowing, velvet coat and grey latex boots with a pink perspex heel. See instagram posts below: https://instagram.com/p/7J3qICBM-k/?taken-by=badgalriri https://instagram.com/p/7J6duPhMyR/?taken-by=badgalriri https://instagram.com/p/7J7YndhMzU/?taken-by=badgalriri https://instagram.com/p/7J8n31BM0w/?taken-by=badgalriri https://instagram.com/p/7J9ETfhM1Q/?taken-by=badgalriri  

AY Shares Holiday Photos With Family In Houston

Stand up comedian, actor and producer, Ay, is enjoying some family time in Houston. He shares these lovely photos of himself, his wife and daughter and captioned "#FamilyTimeIn Houston". See instagram posts below: https://instagram.com/p/7J9VXjm4Py/?taken-by=aycomedian https://instagram.com/p/7J-Bq6m4Ac/?taken-by=aycomedian

Monalisa Chinda Covers House Of Maliq September Issue

The fair adorable beauty, Monalisa Chinda, who now hosts a talk show shared a lovely photo of herself, as captured for House of Maliq magazine. All covered in red, the actress said in her caption that she is on the cover of this month's issue, which is also her birth month. See Instagram post below: https://instagram.com/p/7KoTPxogqN/?taken-by=monalisacode  

Jonathan, Alamieyeseigha, others to attend Dickson’s declaration

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, are among prominent Ijaw leaders that will attend the event as the incumbent Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, declares for second term ambition next Tuesday. Others expected at the event include the national leadership of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governors and National Assembly members.

Stephanie Linus Named Ambassador On Campaign Against Women Violence In Election

The heavily pregnant gorgeous beauty and ace actress, Stephanie Linus, shares photos of herself and acting INEC Boss, Hajiya Amina Zakari, among others as she was named the ambassador of Stop-VAWIE (Stop Violence Against Women In Election). She has fast began her responsibility by urging women to participate in the forth coming elections in Kogi and Bayelsa. See Instagram photos below: https://instagram.com/p/7KYks9mOV_/?taken-by=stephanielinus https://instagram.com/p/7Kamf_GOYH/?taken-by=stephanielinus https://instagram.com/p/7KoLo0mOY5/?taken-by=stephanielinus

Change is no longer a mere slogan, it is now reality – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised that Nigerians will see the fulfillment of his electoral campaign promises soon. The president who spoke in Abuja on Wednesday through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, while receiving members of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, who marched to the presidential villa to pledge their full support for his anti-corruption campaign, urged Nigerian youths to be rest assured that his government’s anti-corruption campaign would secure their future.   While promising that the...

Watch How Miley Cyrus’ Family React To Nicki Minaj’s VMAs Drama

Miley Cyrus wasn't the only one caught off guard by Nicki Minaj's harsh words for her at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night. MTV cameras caught the reaction of the Cyrus family sitting in the audience during the epic moment, including Miley's parents, Tish and Billy Ray Cyrus, and her younger sister, 15-year-old Noah. And if you need any more...

What Jay-Z Is Planning To Give His Queen Bey On Her Birthday

According to The Sun (UK), Jay-Z has gone all out for Bey’s 34th birthday, splashing out on some custom-made, diamond-heeled Manolo Blahniks. No word on how much the glamorous present cost Jay-Z, 45, but we can only assume we’d have to sell every single one of our belongings to afford just one of the diamond shoes. Maybe even just the actual heel part. Or a single diamond. As well as gifting his...

Reps summon Finance Ministry, others over delayed implementation of budget

Members of the House of Representatives have summoned the Finance Ministry, Budget Office, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, National Planning Commission, Debt Management Office and Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to explain what is stalling the implementation of the 2015 Appropriation Act.   The House had, at its August 13, 2015 plenary, constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the non- implementation of the budget following a motion promoted by Rep. Patrick Asadu, Enugu PDP, under matters of urgent public importance. He had...

Cameroon Frees Lagos Based Journalist

Cameroonian authorities on Tuesday freed a Lagos-based Cameroonian journalist, Simon Ateba, after detaining him for four days in the country’s far north region. In a statement issued in Cameroon on Tuesday, the journalists union in the country said President Paul Biya himself ordered Mr. Ateba’s release. Mr. Ateba was arrested by the country’s security while investigating the conditions of Nigerian refugees camped in the country’s far north. Read More: premiumtimesng

Boko Haram Horsemen Strike Again, Kill 26

Insurgents rode on horses to remote Kolori and Ba’ana Imam villages in Damboa Local Government Area where they opened fire on villagers, killing no fewer than 26 people. One of the leaders of youth vigilance group; Civilian JTF in Biu told Daily Sun that many of the villagers fled to Biu on Tuesday, a day after the attack. “The attack occurred on Monday evening. Some Boko Haram insurgents rode to Kolori on horses at about...

Soyinka is ignorant, mischievous – Oyinlola fires back at Soyinka

A former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has described the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka’s criticism of him over the status of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, as ignorance and mischief. One of Oyinlola's aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Oyinlola was surprised that Soyinka was...

International Development Partners join forces with Aisha Buhari on maternal, child Health

The United Nations (UN) under Secretary General and Executive Director of UNFPA, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin and a team of Development Partners, are exploring opportunities through Mrs Buhari’s office to develop a support programme to complement the present administration’s efforts at improving health, nutrition and population outcomes in Nigeria. The Senior Special Assistant to Mrs. Buhari, Dr. Hajo Sani, who disclosed this in a statement Wednesday, said that the wife of the president's concern about the plight of mothers and children...