Policy Alert, a Civil Society Organisation that promotes fiscal and ecological justice in the Niger Delta has warned Akwa Ibom State government against breaching the Public Procurement Law of the State by taking loans for contractors.
Policy Alert said that analysis of the eight-year loan trend of the State has shown that the government of Akwa Ibom State had taken loans for contractors in violation of the Akwa Ibom State procurement law Part IV, Section 16 and Subsection 7(ii) which stipulates that “All procuring entities shall possess the required financial capacity to carry out procurements contracts”.
Policy Alert in a press statement signed by the organisation’s Programme Officer, Fiscal and Governance Reforms, Faith Paulinus, after the organization’s 8th annual Open Budget Forum (OBF) for Akwa Ibom State held on Tuesday noted that the analysis of the financial statements of the State has shown that after the Public Procurement Law of Akwa Ibom State came into force in July 2020, the government of Akwa Ibom State had continued to obtain loans for contractors illegally.
The statement identified Hensek Integrated Services and MIMSHAC- MERKAVIM Transportation Technologies Limited as contractors the Government of Akwa Ibom State had taken loans for in breach of the law.
The statement noted that in 2022, the State Government had taken a loan of N8.59bn in the name of Hensek Integrated Services and N4.7bn in the name of MIMSHAC- MERKAVIM Transportation Technologies Limited, a private firm handling the car assembling plant.
The statement added ” We must note that this is not the first time a loan was taken for Hensek Integrated Services. In 2019, N5bn was taken in his name. As at December 2022, the outstanding debt the State owes Zenith bank in the name of Hensek Integrated Services is N8.2bn.”
The statement also noted that between 2015 and 2022, the government of Akwa Ibom State had taken other loans for both indigenous and foreign contractors.
Policy Identified the contractors to include VKS Group which a loan of N20bn was taken from Zenith Bank for the company in 2019 for their contract at the Airport Terminal Building, 21 storey Building and Coconut factory.
The statement also identified a N18bn loan taken for Wizchino both at Zenith Bank and UBA for the Ndon Eyo road construction project in 2016 and 2019.
Others identified are N7bn loan taken from Zenith Bank to CCECC for Eket-Etinan road in 2016 and 2019, and N10bn from Zenith Bank to Julius Berger in 2019.
Policy Alert said most of these loans did not get the approval of the House of Assembly as they were not deliberated at plenary hence stand as an affront to the powers of the legislature and a breach of the law.
The organization called on accountability institutions to take actions against the illegality.