*We followed due process-D.G
The House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating allegations of a breach of the Public Procurement Act in the award of N1.6b for the procurement of relief trials for 16 states affected by flood in 2017, on Wednesday, accused Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, of breaching the Act.
According to the lawmakers, the breech occurred by Miahaja awarding contracts to companies which did not meet legal requirements as well as non existing companies, the House of Representatives has discovered.
The lawmakers noted that documents before the committee which were presented to Maihaja in the hearing, showed that majority of the companies approved by the agency to handle contracts were in breach of the Procurement Act to the extent that one of the companies, Three Brothers, is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
But the Director-General in response to the issues raised by the lawmakers, insisted that the agency did not breach the procurement laws.
Maihaja told members of the Ali Isa-led ad hoc panel investigating the alleged breach of public trust in the agency, that steps were taken to adhere to the Procurement Act.
He also informed lawmakers of the issuance of Certificate of no Objection to the agency for its contracts by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
On the allegations of commencing distribution of relief materials six months after release of funds and engaging companies that have tax problems, Maihaja said due diligence was strictly followed by the agency under his management.
“We adhere to the Procurement Act, to the best of my knowledge we complied, we did not violate the Act.
“By virtues of the relevant provision of relevant Procurement Act, have not breached any rule. What we do is we looked at the Act and we took our time to follow it.
“While this was going on, we wrote to the BPP and they replied and they never faulted our process.
“The BPP did not say we have done any wrong but that we should submit the list of missing items identified and kept on updating. We have done that and submitted to them” he said.
speaking on the efforts made improve transparency in NEMA, Maihaja said, “Before I came contracts are paid without proper documentation and that is why N1.5b is unpaid till date because there was no certificate to proof that.
“A memo was just submitted that due diligence process be instituted and that is what we are doing
“We now have Maintenance and Operation unit and make sure we implement as approved. There was no Human Resources, no Verification Unit and this applied to everything across board, all we are doing is to put things in place”.
He said after realising that the system he met on ground was flawed on procurement as well as administrative matters, steps were taken to correct the anomalies.
He said the agency did not commence distribution of relief materials to 16 states affected by flood in 2017 despite being an emergency situation.
Saying that the financial and administrative position of the agency was not encouraging as at April, 2017 when he assured duty, the DG emphasised that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) did not find fault with its Procurment procedure after which Certificates of no objection were released.
Saying that the quantum if activities around the period may not allow him to be specific on dates, Maihaja explained that delivery of relief material did not take six month after release of funds.
“I will never intentionally tell the House a lie. On this question, documents were asked for by the Committee and the answers to all the questions were contained in the documents we provided.
“Because of the situation at hand, we were able to delivered materials to nine states within five days but I can’t remember the specific dates.
“I plead that opportunity is given to us to present records on delivery because some States don’t acknowledge receipt of supplies on the actial day of delivery but much much later.
“For instance Edo State has not acknowledged receipt of materials till now, so the date of acknowledgement doesn’t signify the actual date of delivery sometimes.
“There are delays at time on deliveries but we don’t take six months to begin intervention. We did not start delivery after six months, we started much earlier in some while some started late due to procurement and delivery issues which may be responsible for the delay but we delivered majority in good time.
“When I came on board in late April, 2017, I met N4.6m in our coffers and liability of N1.5b and our monthly allocation of N500m cannot go a long way in procuring these materials.
“This was also the time when the international agencies announced the scaling down of their funding by 80 percent. That was the situation on ground when u came on board”.
The committee directed that suspended personnel of the agency as well as present and former Procurement officers appear before it at the continuation of the hearing on Thursday.