Indications emerged on Tuesday that the Federal Government might terminate the N9.2bn clean cooking stove contract before the end of this week. The government is expected to procure 750,000 units of clean cooking stoves and 18,000 wonder bags following the approval of the National Clean Cooking Scheme by the Federal Executive Council led by former President Goodluck Jonathan in November last year. A sum of N9.2bn was approved for the items, which are meant to be distributed to rural women.
The FEC members had unanimously ratified the former President’s anticipatory approval for the contract in favour of Messrs Integra Renewable Energy Services Limited in the sum N9,287,250,000, inclusive of Value Added Tax, with a delivery period of 12 weeks. However, the procurement and distribution of the stoves has not been successful as a result of the contractor’s inability to meet the agreed delivery deadlines reached with the Federal Ministry of Environment.
Explaining why the distribution had not commenced despite the fact that the stoves were recently inaugurated by the immediate past Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Nana Mede, stated on Wednesday that N1.3bn out of the N5bn released to the ministry was given to the contractor to deliver the first set of stoves and wonder bags.
Mede, who spoke at a conference in Abuja to commemorate the World Environment Day, stated that although the contract was officially awarded in February 2015, the contractor had failed to supply the correct number of stoves commensurate with the N1.3bn, which it received for the first set of the clean cooking stoves.
She noted that the contractor had actually supplied some of the stoves to the ministry, but maintained that the distribution of the stoves would not commence until the agreed figure, which the N1.3bn was meant to cover, had been delivered. Mede said:
“We had agreed on dates that the contractor was meant to meet and we have checked what it supplied and found out that what was supplied is less than the 15 per cent mobilisation sum that was given to the firm. If by the end of the week it fails to meet the 15 per cent, we will stop further payments.
“The stoves are there but they are not being distributed yet because we need to ensure that we get the correct number of supplies from the contractor to avoid errors. We can’t distribute what we have not confirmed.”
Early last week, the former vice-president unveiled a few of the stoves at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, but no beneficiary was present at the ceremony, which was attended largely by officials of the Environment ministry. Sambo had stated the stoves would go a long way in reducing desertification in the country. He had said:
“One of the important global problems today is environmental problem, and desertification in Nigeria is one of our major environmental problems. As a result, one of the major causes is this problem of cutting the trees and using the wood as a source of energy for cooking. This idea then came up to have alternative sources for cooking for our women.
“Mr. President (Jonathan) has graciously approved this project for the initial take-off under the Ministry of Environment, with the sum of N9bn to procure these cooking utensils and distribute them all over the country to our women.
“And by so doing, we are contributing to stopping the usage of trees for firewood for cooking. In addition to that, it has added value of saving women from inhaling the smoke, which is responsible for the yearly death of about 90,000 women. We believe this is a very important contribution towards arresting desertification in Nigeria.”