…Approves policy on virtual engagement
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday approved over N33.1 billion for the award of contract for the reconstruction of Apapa-Oworonsoki-Ojota Phase Section 2, and the dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri road.
The money also covers the supply, deployment, installation, testing and commissioning of security equipment for seven railway stations and the e-government procurement.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that N22.247 billion was for the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oworonsoki-Ojota Phase Section Two, which is Bit land Interchange, 8.1 kilometer stretch.
Alhaji Mohammed, who briefed on behalf of the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said that additional N8 billion was approved for the dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri road which is about 560 kilometers.
According to him, “On behalf of Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, I want to report that he presented a memo which was approved in council today for the award of a contract for the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oworonsoki-Ojota Phase Section Two, which is Bit land Interchange, 8.1-kilometre stretch.
“You will recall that in 2018, the Federal Government approved an award of contract to Dangote Industry for the sum of N72 billion.
“By the time the award was made, there was this Section of the road that was in fairly good condition. But with the construction of the Oworonsoki project coming to an end, it now makes better sense to include that section which was fairly good.
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“This contract was awarded today for the sum of N22,247,332,000. But you must know that this is one of the projects being awarded under Infrastructural Tax Credit Scheme. In other words, it is awarded to Dangote and Dangote will construct it and over the years, it will be deducted from the tax payable by the group.
“It is one of various means of PPP that this administration has embraced. It is not only restricted to Oworonsoki-Apapa road, it is the same system that is being used in Obajana-Kaba road. Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) is also using the same formula for the bridge to link Bonny and Boro in Rivers State.”
He further said, “Another memo which he (Fashola) presented was for the award of contract for the dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri road. That is Section One. That is Kano-Wudil-Shuarin section. This is about 560 kilometers contract between Kano and Maiduguri. The section awarded today is actually more of approval for an estimated total cost.
“They found out that at the time of the award of the contract, certain conditions have to be known. He sought for a revision and an increment in the sum of N8 billion which will bring the total cost of the contract to N63 billion. It was approved by council today.”
Also briefing, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Patani said that the council gave approval to the memo from his ministry for national policy on virtual engagements in federal public institutions.
He said, “Mine is an approval we have obtained from the Federal Executive Council for national policy on virtual engagements in federal public institutions and it is a joint memorandum between Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
“In January 2020 as we all know, the world had been taken by surprise with the emergence of COVID-19 in which the World Health Organization declared it as a global health challenge. By 11th March 2020, WHO declared it as a pandemic and that COVID-19 has disrupted the world and the way we conduct our activities and now virtual engagements are becoming the new normal.
“It is because of this that we came up with memo that will institutionalize virtual engagements in federal public institutions in order to make sure that even after COVID, virtual engagement is recognized by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a medium of communication. It is because of this we came up with this memo.
“Secondly, in the memo, many ICT institutions have a role to play like National Information Technology Development Agency has earlier been directed to come up with regulatory instruments that will set up the minimum standards and guidelines for virtual engagement.
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“That minimum standard will accommodate hardware requirements, software requirement, the category, the cyber security and many more.
“Furthermore, there are many benefits to that. Firstly, many of us today have adopted the new normal and we have discovered that it saves cost, it saves time and it also helps in improving transparency and fighting corruption. Usually when there is a physical contact, it is through that means that corruption is being perpetrated but when we minimize physical contact, by implication we are minimizing corrupt practices and many more.
“So it is because of this to have a document in place, a policy in place that is why we got the approval of national policy for virtual engagements in the Federal public institutions.
“Prior to that, we had some policies that were being used like our national e-government Master plan, national cloud computing policy, most of the issues we were relying on were in different documents policy and subsidiary legislation but with this policy now, we have a comprehensive document in one place that will accommodate the entire policy of our virtual engagements in federal public institutions. So this is the summary of what the memo is all about.”
The Minister of Transportation, RT. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi said, “We presented a memo for the supply, deployment, installation, testing and commissioning of security equipment for seven railway stations, mainly Idu, Rigasa, Jere, Kubwa, Kaduna and Kano in favour of Messrs Avonics Services Nigeria Limited, in the sum of N1,208,335,464.60, inclusive of 7.5 percent tax with a completion period of 12 months.”
The Director-General of Burau for Public Enterprise, BPP, Mamman Ahmadu, who was part of the briefing said, “Today BPP presented a memo on e-government procurement.
“E-government procurement has the potential of improving procurement process, eliminate corruption and reduce the leak time in the procurement process itself.
“There have been a lot of complaints about the long time it takes to go through the due process. With the establishment of this, we will reduce that time.
“It also removes subjectivity from the process. There have been lots of complaints about subjectivity in the approval process that will be dealt with squarely when it is eventually launched.
“E-government procurement is a global trend and from the research carried out by the World Bank, it had been established that countries that have taken off with e-government procurement have witnessed exponential economic growth and they have stimulated ICT in those countries.
“It will reduce corruption to the barest minimum because it will reduce the human interface within the process. The overall cost is about N1.6 billion.”
Vanguard News Nigeria.