On Thursday, members of the Senate Public Accounts Committee expressed shock when the Federation Auditor General’s report reported that officials from the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources invested N116m in one year buying biros, letterheads, and toners.
The expenditure breakdown showed that N14.5m was spent by the ministry to buy Schneider biros, N46m to print the letterhead of the ministry, and N56m to procure toner for its photocopy machines.
In its 2015 audit report, which is currently being reviewed by the Senate committee headed by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, the AGF suggested this.
The proposal from the AuGF Office reads, ‘The contract for the supply of Schneider biros with a value of N14.5 m was split into smaller packages of less than N5 m each and awarded to four separate companies in order to bypass the approval requirement of N5 m for the permanent secretary.
Likewise, the ministry’s letterhead printing contract worth N46m was also split and awarded to 11 separate contractors.
The supply contract for toners worth N56m was also split and awarded to seven separate contractors. The Permanent Secretary was asked to clarify this contravention of the 2007 Public Procurement Act.
The Chairman of SPAC asked Godwin Akubo, the representative of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, to respond to the AuGF’s inquiry.
In its response, the ministry said The ministry’s intervention was a swift response to the needs of the different departments in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Such awards have followed normal guidelines and processes.
Contracts were not separated. At different times when items were needed, they were awarded to the various contractors.
“The amount of N46.6m used for letterhead printing followed the due process and a large amount of money is explained by the volume of production for most departments.”
Dissatisfied with the defense of the ministry’s permanent secretary, the committee chairman endorsed the inquiry.