Budget 2022: Bid by research institute to run N80 billion constituency projects raises eyebrows

An advertisement placed by the Nigerian Roads and Constructions Research Institute (NBRRI) in select Nigerian newspapers on Monday, April 18, 2022, calling for bids for line-of-sight investment and zonal intervention projects in 2020 d ‘worth about 80 billion naira, raised eyebrows, Daily Trust on Sunday can report.

While observers said it was an aberration for the NBRRI to delve into capital projects that fall outside of its core mandate, the agency said it could not dismiss constituency projects that presented to him for execution by the federal legislators.

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Daily Trust on Sunday reports that apart from the NBRRI, many government MDAs have published newspaper advertisements calling for tenders to perform contracts considered outside their core mandate.

In the referenced announcement, the research institute (NBRRI) expressed its desire to execute certain capital projects under the 2022 budget allocation.

The scope of works, as advertised, includes the construction of classroom blocks, skills centres/town halls, construction of earth roads, with hydraulic structures, asphalt paving, solar street lights, motorized boreholes and provision of goods, among others. projects.

This, however, raised questions as to why a government agency whose primary mandate is to conduct research would be involved in the execution of capital projects.

Mandate of the NBRRI

The NBRRI is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

Established in 1978 to carry out research and development activities in the many aspects of the industries responsible for construction and road building, its statutory function, according to our findings, is to carry out coordinated applied research and development in the many sections of the building. and construction sectors of the economy.

Some of the areas in which the NBRRI is mandated to conduct research, according to our findings, are: Local building and construction materials to determine the most effective and economical methods of their use; architectural design of buildings adapted to Nigerian climatic conditions with regard to lighting, ventilation, thermal comfort and humidity; the design and performance of functional units in buildings, including electrical installations, plumbing, painting, drainage, ventilation and the air conditioning system; local construction, foundation and earthworks of buildings and bridges, especially on problematic soils.

In 1993, the institute’s mandate was reportedly expanded to include research and development (R&D) into all possible aspects of engineered materials used in the construction industry, our findings reveal.

Ask questions track for more than 500 constituency projects

However, a careful review of the announcement indicates that the NBRRI has tendered over 500 projects in different parts of the country which have been classified as A, B, C, D and E.

While Category “A” was seeking prequalification for 48 projects, including works, goods and services, Category “B” solicited bids for 263 projects.

In the same vein, category C launched calls for tenders for 12 projects while categories D and E requested 6 and 30 projects respectively.

Questions are raised about the inclusion of 80% of projects that are constituency-related and considered outside of the organization’s mandate.

For example, under Category A, the research institute plans to carry out projects that fall outside its purview, among which is the erection of high-intensity solar street lights for surveillance in selected areas of Surulere, Lagos.

Apart from calling for tenders to undertake a 150kW solar mini-grid development project for the off-national grid of Kwalita Village, Dobi, Gwagwalada in the FCT, he also sought to undertake the supply of high-efficiency solar street lights in and around selected rural schools and communities in the north-central, north-west and south-west for security monitoring.

Other ‘strange’ projects that the NBRRI has tendered include the purchase of freezers, refrigerators, generators, grinders, vulcanization machines for youth empowerment in Anambra State , provision of educational materials in Gindiri, Plateau State, as well as provision of school furniture in Ojokoro, Ashafa, Irepodun communities.

In addition, the agency plans to undertake projects for the supply of classroom furniture in the Aiyetoro-Ajeromi and Badagry communities, the equipment of the central auditorium and the multipurpose hall in Naki Gori and Yola Wakat in the area north-central, and providing empowerment as well as providing empowerment items to women in Danmaje and other LGAs.

Similarly, the NBRRI is asked about its candidacy to undertake a capacity building and indigent empowerment project on cassava value chain by-products in Anambra North.

Under Category ‘B’ contained in the advertisement, which is labeled ‘Technical and Financial Bid’, NBRRI has invited tenders to undertake a project for the installation of its Fabricated Solar Street Light (NBRRI) at Gombe Sought LGA, the supply and the installation of NBRRI manufactured integrated solar street lights to the communities of Awe, Doma, Federal Constituency of Keana in Nasarawa State, as well as a contract for what he labeled “the use of NBRRI finished products on rural road construction technology in Ikenne LGA of Ogun State”.

While calling for a bid to undertake a project to provide health care, supply of medicine and health insurance for the people of Ibadan, the NBRRI announcement also sought to supply and install solar street lights all- in one in the six geopolitical zones, according to the call for tenders.

This is in addition to seeking bids for the provision of healthcare, provision of medicine and health insurance for the people of Ibadan, Oyo State, as well as the construction of boreholes and solar-powered streetlights in Idemili North and South. Anambra State Federal Constituency.

The NBRRI is also offering a contract for the supply and installation of street lights at Aiyetoro, Gbede, in the Senatorial District of Kogi West, and another for the supply and installation of 3 in 1 solar street lights at various locations in Nasarawa South .

National Assembly

Likewise, the research institute intends to undertake the construction and supply of solar street lights with lithium-ion battery, 10,000 lumens with PIR in Gunda, Garubla, Borno State, as well as the construction of boreholes in solar power, construction of interior road at Pambara Extension 1 and 2, construction of culverts at Pambara Extensions 1 and 2, Ushafa-Abuja.

It’s an aberration – Rafsanjani

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), said it was an aberration for a research-based organization like the NBRRI to undertake constituency projects.

“In addition to being a negation of the mandate entrusted to them, it is also a clear case of non-compliance with the law on public procurement. If the legislators of the National Assembly ask them to do a bad thing like in this case, they should reject it and respect their mandate.

“They (NBRRI) should stay in their research-based mandate and stop aiding corruption while the National Assembly should understand that it is necessary to have a legal framework to avoid diversion,” Rafsanjani said.

However, another source said the fact that the plans were advertised in national dailies meant that due process was followed. “Many government agencies go beyond their mandate to solve problems. I am not saying that the NBRRI has a mandate to build roads or provide boreholes. I’m also not saying they don’t have the warrant,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.

We can’t stop lawmakers from homing constituency projects with us – NBRRI

The NBRRI leadership said it could not prevent National Assembly lawmakers from entrusting them with their projects.

NBRRI Director of Information Peter Mashem said: “We’ve tried many times within NASS to tell them it’s not part of our mandate, but they always tell you ‘look, this has already been signed; it is an appropriation.

He explained that the lawmakers started offering them constituency projects when they started promoting some of their technologies by setting up skill acquisition centers to raise awareness and promote their business to let people know what ‘They did.

“This promotion of these skill centers was what these lawmakers started to see and say we can bring it to our constituencies; that’s how we got involved in all of this. So technically that’s our mandate because we were promoting, which is good for us too.

“But I can assure you that we do a lot of checks to make sure the money is being used and the projects are successful; it’s not like they (legislators) are using us here. We ensure that projects reach 100% completion.

“We oversee and deliver the money; if you come for the offer we give you part of the money to start and when you come back with pictures we give you the second batch,” Mashem said.

“NASS is unable to react”

When contacted, the Director of Information at the National Assembly, Agada Rawlings Emmanuel, said the matter was within the purview of the political leaders who passed the bill.

“As a result, you may contact the Senate spokesperson for further necessary information or, at best, read the law, which is now a public document, and have a good understanding of their mandates to draw the necessary conclusions on the questions. of your concerns.

However, a senior National Assembly official, who preferred not to be named, said there was no connection between the federal parliament and the execution of capital projects by government agencies, at the except for the constitutional oversight role.

“The National Assembly has nothing to do with capital projects of any government agency other than oversight to ensure that Nigerians are not harmed in whatever they do,” the official said. .

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