Senate probes NIMC over alleged N229m contract award

The Senate Public Account Committee is currently investigating the authorities of the National Identity Management Commission over the alleged non-compliance with Public Procurement Act in the award of a N229m contract.

The SPAC hinged the probe on the query contained in the 2017 report of the Auditor General for the Federation which it is currently scrutinising.

The Chairman of the Senate panel, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, sustained the query at the sitting of his panel on Tuesday and demanded further information from the agency.

The query partly read, “Audit observed that capital payment vouchers reference number: NIMC/LS/IGL/1/11/105, dated 25th October 2017 for ₦229.7 million showed that NIMC procured 22 units of HP blade servers for Morpho BSS upgrade.

“The items were supplied. There was no evidence of Ministerial Tender’s Board approval, thus, negating the mandatory Open Competitive bidding. Public advertisement in at least two national dailies, as required by Financial Regulation 2907 (1) and section 251(ii) of the Public Procurement Act was absent.

“There was an initial payment of ₦103.4 million vide payment voucher number NIMC/01/016 CA/18 dated 19/01/18, representing 45% of the contract sum as against the mobilisation fee of 15 per cent. The other subsequent payments were not also backed by an interim performance certificate as required by Section 35(2) of the public procurement Act 2007.

“This is an indication of weakness in the internal control system at National Identity Management Commission.

“This could lead to poor value for money and possibility of misapplication and misappropriation of funds.

“Management’s response: No response was received from management at the time of our report. Recommendation: The Director-General is required to refund the sum of ₦229 million.”

However, the Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, said that the contract fell within the threshold of the Commission’s Tenders Board because it is classified under ‘works’.

He said that all the servers had been supplied before the initial payment of 45 per cent which represents part payment and not mobilisation due to paucity of funds.

He further informed the committee that the amount was meant to procure 22 blade servers to accommodate 20 million enrollment records.

He also said that the contract was a continuation of procurement of Enterprise Servers and Storage Solution and Equipment which was awarded in 2012.

He added that the Commission had registered 57 million people as of Tuesday while 90 servers were needed to register 100 million Nigerians.

He said the Commission will on Wednesday submit a N25bn proposal to buy more servers in order to take the whole population.

But Uroghide said that it is wrong for the Commission to continue the 2012 procurement process in 2017.

The Chairman said, “We are supposed to do a status inquiry on your Commission because it looks like all your documents are muddled up.”

The Committee, therefore, mandated the NIMC management to reappear next week Thursday with more documents to back up their claims.

PUNCH

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