The Senate, yesterday, queried the N63.5 billion approved for the construction of the second Runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, saying it was an attempt to ‘steal and rape’ Nigerians of the country’s common patrimony.
It, however, called on the government to urgently construct a second runway at the airport and urged it to ensure that due process and diligence was followed in the award of contracts for the construction.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion by Senator Dino Melaye, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kogi West, titled, The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, Second Runway Contract.
The Senate, while calling on the federal government to drastically reduce what it termed the unrealistic cost, said the government must monitor the contract award process.
Presenting the motion, Senator Melaye noted that the contract for the construction of the runway was cancelled by the last administration after allegation of over inflation of contracts was established.
Melaye, who noted that the contract was awarded by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, at N64 billion after ratification by the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, contended that there was also the need for the construction of a second runway since, according to him, “the existing one is not only bad but inadequate.”
According to him, the entire Gombe Airport, with 3.6km runaway cost N8.2 billion; Jigawa Airport cost a total of N11 billion, Bauchi, N12 billion; Enugu Airport, reconstructed and expanded at N13 billion and Akwa Ibom Airport was constructed at N18.05 billion.
He expressed worry that the proposed cost of constructing just a runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, was astronomical, insisting that the amount was four times the cost of constructing a brand new runway in the country.
Melaye argued that the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, with four lanes of 4km runway cost less than N22 billion, saying constructing a 3. 8km one-line runway for N63.5 billion would be a waste of fund considering Nigeria’s present economic situation.
He said: “The publication that the contract is already undergoing review and to be awarded at N63.5 billion as published by newspapers is another attempt to steal and rape Nigerians of our common patrimony. Further convinced by the fact that the entire Gombe Airport with 36km runway cost of N8.2 billion; Jigawa Airport cost N12 billion, Enugu Airport was constructed and expanded at 13 billion naira and Akwa Ibom Airport at N18.05 billion .
“This astronomical amount is about four times the cost of constructing a brand new airport in Nigeria. 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. If this 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. “
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his remark, tasked the government to put in motion necessary machinery to construct a better runway at the Abuja International Airport and due process should be followed in awarding the contract.
According to him, the amount bandied for constructing the second runway at the airport was unacceptable, stressing that the Senate would do its best to ensure that there was probity in award of contracts not only in the aviation sector, but other sectors of the economy.
The Senate President who noted that there was the need to stop what he described as the reckless expenditures, while awarding contracts in the country, said that it was the responsibility of the senate to perform the oversight functions in awarding these contracts.
Meanwhile, five bills passed first reading yesterday.
The bills include Prevention and Punishment of Torture Bill 2015 by Senator Biodun Olujimi, Ekiti South; the Nigerian Biodiversity bill 2015 and Counterfeit Goods Bill 2015 by Senator Isah Misau, Bauchi Central; National ecological agency Bill 2015 by Senator Obinna Ogba, Ebonyi Central and and Fire arms act CAP F28 LFN 2004 (repeal and re-enactment) Bill 2015, Joshua Dariye, Plateau Central.
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