4 December 2012

Nigeria: Flood Disaster Gulps N25 Billion Ecological Funds

The Federal Government Monday said it had deployed about N25 billion of the Ecological Funds to tackle the recent flood disaster that ravaged several parts of the country.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, stated this during a meeting with the House Committee on Environment.

Anyim said the sum was part of the intervention funds which government used to ameliorate the sufferings of the victims of the flood in the impacted states.

Responding, House Committee on Environment, Hon. Uche Ekwunife, said the deployment of the said funds was appropriate as the Ecological Fund was actually meant to address the ecological problems facing the various states in the country.

Ekwunife, however, expressed some reservations with the application of the Ecological Funds in the respective states. She disclosed that in the course of the committee's oversight functions, the lawmakers encountered scores of abandoned projects.

The investigation of the application of the funds became imperative following a motion on the floor of the House on Thursday, November 15, 2012 on the Ecological Funds Projects.

The procurement process on 17 of the projects was said to have commenced since 2006 and still ongoing six years after they were first advertised.

"We are concerned that the ongoing process may have contravened provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and due diligence may not have been carried out before the said projects recently found their way to the office of the SGF and the Minister of Environment for signing.

"It is the opinion of the committee that the ongoing process has become moribund but time bared because ecological problems progress with changing years and weather and as such are time sensitive," Ekwunife said.

In response to the issues raised, Anyim said that the main problem with the ecological funds was that at the time it was created it was not properly streamlined. He expressed concern that projects were abandoned and charged states that initiated or requested for projects to monitor them appropriately.

According to him, states have their own allocation of the funds and should stop heaping all the blame on the Federal Government.

He said there was need to review the projects that were suspected to have breached the Procurement Act.

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