…To summon minister, heads of finance, procurement
By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, yesterday, gave the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika a marching order to complete the Port Harcourt Airport within the next three months.
The lawmakers were peeved when the Minister during a budget defense said that a contractor handling the remodelling of the Port Harcourt International Airport terminal was a “difficult old man” who has willfully delayed work on the project despite having been paid his claims.
Sen. Sirika said as a minister, he made efforts to get funding for the job and had to drag the contractor to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, where a commitment was extracted from him regarding the timeline within which to finish the job.
He explained that the contractor even went as far as changing the scope of work without government approval, including causing over two variations to the contract sum, as well as shifting the time line for the completion of work.
Sirika said as a senator, he was on an oversight to the airport in 2014 where it was discovered that there was a contract for expansion that was not being done by the contractor, whom he described as an “extremely difficult old man to deal with.”
His assertions were corroborated by both the Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority, FAAN and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Shuaibu Zakari who said that the contractor after abandoning the site only hurried back to site, having gotten wind of an impromptu visit by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, just to create the impression that he is working.
They revealed that a claim of about N800million was paid to enable the said contractor conclude the job, but he has continued to slow the pace of work to the point of abandoning the site altogether.
Chairperson of the Committee, Nkieruka Onyejeocha (PDP, Abia), in her reaction said her concern was that nobody should hold Nigeria to ransom, saying that there are laws with which to deal with such a contractor.
She said, “Nobody can hold the country to ransom because, in contractual agreements, there is always a time line and once that time line elapses, you are no longer a contractor.”