The Senate on Wednesday raised the alarm over the alleged move by the federal government to award a contract for the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at the cost of N63.5 billion and called on the government to drastically reduce the cost. The upper parliamentary chamber which however, rejected the prayer to probe those found culpable in the inflated contract, urged the federal government to ensure that due process and diligence are followed in the design, award and procurement processes on the contract.
The senators however, emphasised the need for the construction of a second runway at the airport but with the determination to monitor the process for award of the contract. While moving a motion on the contract, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) noted that the contract had been cancelled by the last administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan following the discovery of over inflation of the contract.
According to Melaye, the last Federal Executive Council (FEC) had before its cancellation, awarded the contract at the cost of N64 billion following its ratification by the Bureau for Public Procurement and the great need to construct a second runway because “the existing one is not only bad but inadequate.” He therefore said the ongoing review of the contract with the intention to re-award it at the rate of N63.5 billion according to newspapers’ reports “is another attempt to steal and rape Nigerians of our common patrimony.”
While deploring the perceived inflation of the contract, Melaye said the entire Gombe Airport with 3.6 kilometre runaway cost only N8.2 billion; Jigawa Airport constructed at the cost of N11 billion; Bauchi Airport at the cost of N12 billion, Enugu Airport’s reconstruction and expansion at only N13 billion while state-of-the-art Akwa Ibom Airport was constructed at the total cost of N18.05 billion.
Melaye further said the Senate was worried that this proposed cost of constructing only a runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport was astronomical because “the amount was four times the cost of constructing a brand new runway in Nigeria.” He said it was worrisome that only a runway was planned to be constructed at the cost of N63.5 billion whereas the newly constructed terminal five at the Heathrow Airport, London with four lanes of four kilometres cost less than N22 billion.
Therefore, he said constructing a 3.8-kilometre one-line runway at the rate of N63.5 billion would “be a waste of fund considering Nigeria’s present economic situation. He added:
“As a representative of the people, we must advise that due process and strict adherence to Public Procurement Act be observed in the said contract of the second Abuja Airport runaway.”
He warned that “if this is not brought to attention of the government now, there may be another fraud in the making, given the comparative analysis of cheaper cost across the country.” In his remarks, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, tasked the federal government to put the necessary machinery in place to ensure the construction of a better runway at the Abuja International Airport with strict adherence to the principle of due process.