N221bn disbursed to road contractors, says Works ministry
Under the 2021 SUKUK bond funds, according to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, a total of N221 billion has been paid out to contractors as payment for the costs of the construction of 71 road projects that have been finished in various regions of the country.
This was because it rejected allegations made by some dissatisfied contractors in an online publication that cash allotted to projects in the 2022 SUKUK fund were being delayed and deposited into bank accounts “To embezzle accrued interest.” These allegations had been made by the contractors.
The counterargument was presented in the form of a statement that was labelled “For the Records. Regarding the allegation that was made on Wednesday regarding the “N130bn 2022 SUKUK Fund: Road Contractors Petition Efcc Over Non-payment Of Approved Funds Allocated To Them By Ministry Of Works Staff,” which was signed by the Director managing the office of the Permanent Secretary, Folorunsho Esan.
The ministry asserted that it had finished the disbursement for the payment of performed contracts in the 2021 SUKUK budget, adding that the payment had ended in April 2022 and that a total of N221 billion had been paid.
Esan emphasised that, as a matter of principle, payments for both years (2021 and 2022) could not be made concurrently.
It is unfounded to imagine that any portion of the 2022 SUKUK Fund is warehoused in any bank with the expectation of yielding interest for any pecuniary benefits to officials in the ministry, according to the Director, who described the allegations as a blatant misrepresentation of facts and a calculated attempt to smear the name of the Ministry. He added that this was a calculated attempt to smear the name of the Ministry.
As a point of clarification, he mentioned that the ministry has been employing the Sukuk model for project financing ever since 2017, and that the ministry has never held cash for the sake of making payments on projects.
In addition to this, he brought to everyone’s attention the fact that “SUKUK Funds are domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and are only released to the Ministry for payment after the necessary processes and approvals are obtained.”
The following is an excerpt from the ministry’s statement: “The attention of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has been drawn to allegations via an online publication that wrongly accuse staff members of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing of refusing to disburse funds allocated for projects in the 2022 SUKUK Fund to contractors.”
“For the record, this is both a blatant misrepresentation of the facts as well as a calculated attempt to tarnish the reputation of the Ministry,” she said. Within twenty-four hours of the funds reaching the accounts of the ministry, payments are to be issued to the contractors working on the Sukuk projects, as per the operating standards for these types of projects.
“Remember that the Debt Management Office approved the 2022 Sovereign SUKUK Funding of N110.00 billion for the implementation of sixty-three (63No.) projects throughout the country with a symbolic presentation at the ministry of finance.
“However, before the presentation of the cheque for the 2022 SUKUK, the Ministry was busy executing the 2021 SUKUK Funding in the amount of N210.565 billion for the construction of seventy-one (71No.) projects in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and N10.435 billion for the execution of five (5No.) highway projects by the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, which were transferred to the Works and Housing Ministry. ”
“It is important to note that the disbursement of the 2022 Sukuk could not possibly be run concurrently with that of the 2021 Sukuk as a matter of principle.”
According to the statement, the first (1st)Tranche Drawdown in the sum of N19.605 billion was forwarded to DMO upon completion of the 2022 verification process in early May 2023. This was done in line with the commitment of the ministry for payment of works executed according to the approved milestones. Subsequent tranches will be forwarded to DMO as the contractors execute the projects in line with the approved milestones until the N130bn is fully accessed.
In order to avoid baseless allegations and the wasteful waste of taxpayer money and energy that should be channelled into more productive projects, the ministry asked the general public to carefully cross-check their facts before coming to the media.