By Iteveh Ekpokpobe, Regional Editor, South-South
Projects cost inflation and fiscal corruption may assume another title since the Provost, Delta State College of Education, Warri, Prof. Mary Edema, built two toilet blocks at a whooping sum of N36 million Naira, an investigation has revealed.
According to a memo with number TETF/ES/COE/AL.2017/VOL.XVII, each of the toilet block gulped N17, 135, 871 million while N2,593,459 million went for consultancy for the project.
Two companies, Awaguma Nigeria Limited and Henag Nigeria Limited, handed the projects titled, “Construction of Modern Lavatory for Male and Female Students Block ‘A’ & ‘B’ (consisting 9 toilet units, 4 Urinals and fitted with vitrified floor tiles, wash hand basins etc.).
The investigation uncovered that the funds were part of the N75 million “Intervention Fund” made available by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETFUND), for the College.
Overtime, there have been public outcries of underfunding for critical research in the country, in the face of which, abuse of grants such as these amid funds diversion seems prevalent.
Seven Million Naira can complete the projects conveniently – Expert
A quantity surveyor, Engr. Tunde Malachi, entertains the same notion as he described the construction as a clear display of extravagance.
He said the anomaly could only be the result of a faulty and dubious procurement process.
According to him, ‘Seven Million Naira’ could conveniently construct the projects with viable profit for the contractor. “Will the Provost pay any contractor N36 million to build toilet in her home?”
Private and Public Projects Not The Same – Provost
Although, the Provost, Prof Mary Edema, asserted that due process was followed in the projects’ procurement, when quizzed if she would expend such amount on her private project, she said, “personal project and public projects are not the same. I cannot say when I build a personal project; it will be the same thing as this.”
According to her, “Due process was followed. It was published in a National Journal, and TETFUND official was there to witness the bidding before the award. The projects have been completed and handed over. The Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare commissioned them.”
Further effort to push for procurement details for the project met verbal resistance from her. She said, “They are TETFUND documents. You can get them from them. Those who gave you the originating documents should have also given you the ones for procurement.”
Agreed that due process was followed in the procurement of those projects, is it not surprising that the contractors who were awarded the contracts submitted the exact cost for the project as available in TETFUND’s budget?
Who gave them the hint? Whose interest was the information source protecting? These and many more are the nagging questions.
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, a public agency saddled with the task of providing remedial therapy for Nigeria’s troubled tertiary education landscape, was established in 1993 with the mandate to defray some of the shortcomings in the universities.
Statutorily, it generates its income from the two per cent of the assessable profits of all companies in Nigeria.
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