Senate raises alarm over N63.5b Abuja airport runway contract
THE Senate yesterday frowned at the N63.5 billion reviewed cost for the construction of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja second runway just as the upper legislative chamber urged the Federal Government to ensure that due process and diligence were followed in the design, award and procurement processes of the contract.
Also yesterday, the three senators from Sokoto State wrote to Senate President Bukola Saraki withdrawing petitions they had presented against the ministerial nomination of Ms Aisha Abubakar.
Following her nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari for screening and confirmation by the Senate, some groups from the state including Concerned Women of Sokoto State, petitioned the chamber against her choice on alleged grounds of incompetence and not being known in the state’s chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC).
While acknowledging the need for the construction of the runway, the Senate, however, urged the Federal Government to drastically reduce what it described as the “unrealistic cost” of the contract and also ensure that the contract award process was monitored.
Senator Dino Melaye, APC representing Kogi West, in a motion titled: The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, Second Runway Contract, stated that the N63.5 billion reviewed contract was another attempt to defraud the country.
According to Melaye, the contact, which was awarded at the cost of N64 billion by the past administration was recently reviewed upwards N64.5 billion.
However, the Senate was equally not comfortable with the new contract cost and as representatives of the people, Melaye urged his colleagues to compel Federal Government to ensure strict adherence to due process and Public Procurement Act in the said contract.
He warned that if the issue was not brought to the attention of the government, there may be another fraud in the making, given the cooperative analysis of cheaper cost across the country.
We are further convinced by the fact that the entire Gombe Airport with 3.6km runway cost N8.2 billion; Jigawa Airport cost a total amount of N11 billion; Bauchi Airport cost N12 billion, Enugu Airport was reconstructed and expanded at N13 billion while Akwa Ibom was constructed at N18.05 billion.
The Senate was further worried that the new terminal 5 in Heathrow Airport with four lanes of 4km runway cost less than N25 billion and constructing a 3.8km one lane runway for N63.5 billion will be a waste of fund considering Nigeria’s present economic situation.
“The contract for the construction of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Second Runway was cancelled by the last Administration after allegations of over inflation of contracts was established.
“It was also noted that the contact was awarded by the Federal Executive Council at N64 billion after ratification by the Bureau for Public Procurement. There is also a great need for the construction of a second run way since the existing one is not only bad but inadequate.
“The Senate believed that the publication that the contract is already undergoing review and to be awarded at N63.5 billion as published by newspapers across the country is another attempt to steal and rape Nigerians of our common patrimony,” Melaye added.