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How NITDA Wasted N360.2 Million On Failed IT Contracts

Pantami Demands Retraction, Threatens Legal Action Against Daily Independent

An audit of the procurement contracts executed by the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, has revealed how N360.2 million was wasted on projects or equipment that were no longer functional.

It was discovered that some of the contracts were inflated and there were irregularities in payments to contractors in an audit carried out by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation in 2018.

The DG of the agency during the period was Dr Isa Pantami, the current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

The AuGF suggested that Pantami should be made to account for the N48million for the unexecuted contracts.

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The report added that he should be sanctioned in line with the provision of FR 3104, FR 409, FR 3122 and 3106 for various infractions.

Pantami was asked to account for the sum of N300.83 million being over invoiced amount on some contracts in question.

Irregular Payment Of N11.37 Million

The report of the project noted that the agency made an irregular payment of N11.37 million to a company for advertorial to Business Year Nigeria 2015 Yearbook.

According to the AuGF report, payment for the advertorial was made to a third-party company, instead of directly to who made the request and was not subjected to both Withholding and Value Added Tax as required by law.

It added that authorisation letter of 12th February 12, 2015 from The Business Year to pay the third-party company was not signed and as such, there was no legal backing for its implementation.

The report stated, “Under no circumstances should the payment for the supply of goods or services be made to third party. Payments must be in line with the provisions in the contract agreement and e-payment principles.”

The AuGF recommended that the Director-General should be made to account for the infractions and sanctioned in line with provisions with the provisions of FR 409 and 3106.

Over-Invoicing Of N300.83 Million

Also, findings showed that the agency inflated the cost of a contract for the renewal of bandwidth for rural Information Technology Centres, which involved suppling 12- months dedicated internet bandwidth to 46 schools in the country.

It was observed that the contract was awarded to a company on the June 26, 2013 but paid for in 2014, at the total cost of N184m at a unit cost of N4,000,000.00 per annum but market investigations revealed that this contract was over-invoiced.

The report stated, “There was no evidence that the company’s bandwidth was subscribed from a network provider. The company did not produce receipt from the internet service provider to justify that the price was fair.

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Audit of another contract showed an infraction that was “due to the failure of the Director-General to strictly comply with the provision of extant laws and regulations, especially as it relates to procurement transactions which is governed by the Procurement Act. The practice of over invoicing in the contract process by government is unacceptable.”

However, the management of NITDA in response to the allegations said the agency’s contracts passed through due process in line with the procurement Act 2007 and that there was no collusive agreement with the contractor.

Non-Functional Internet, N24million Incomplete Project

The report noted that the agency awarded two contracts for e- learning solution to the National Commission for Nomadic Education, Kaduna in which N24million was expended on the establishment of Knowledge Access Venue (KAV) and N15 million for the establishment of Community Access Centre (CAC).

However, inspection of the projects revealed that the Knowledge Access Venue (KAV) was not executed, only Community Access Centre (CAC) was done.

Findings showed that “the Enterprises Antivirus (McAfee 2015/Norton2015/AVG2015) ten in number were not installed; item No. 27 perimeter fencing/secured locks and solar panels were not in place and copper wire was put instead.

“Item 28 on the bill for a standard signpost describing the project was not in place, and the internet was not functioning.”

Unexecuted Contract Worth N24 Million

The audit found NITDA awarded two contracts to equip Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information, Bonny Camp Lagos for the establishment of two Knowledge Access Venues (KAV) at N24,000,000.00 each.

However, inspection of the project showed that “One out of the two contracts was partially executed and the bandwidth worked for only one month and parked up;

“There was no priced bill for effective evaluation and we could not ascertain the particular contractor who actually executed his contract as NITDA did not give the records to NASPRI.”

About Author

Ife Ogunfuwa is an award-winning reporter who is versed in reporting business and economy, technology, gadgets reviews, telecoms, tax, and business policy review, among others. She loves telling stories behind the numbers. She has professional certifications in business and financial reporting. You can reach her via – [email protected]

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