… as PWD community calls for special consideration
Federal Capital Territory FCT Minister Nyesom Wike has been urged to implement systems to tackle fraud in contract awards and abandoned projects littered in the territory.
The community of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the FCT has lamented difficulties in accessing public and private infrastructures and the impact of demolitions on its members.
Program Manager at Priests Peace and Justice Initiative, Dr Agbaji Orinya, led the call for the former Rivers State Governor to ensure transparency of contract awards and procurement in FCT during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja.
Orinya, who stressed that corruption has continued to bedevil the development of public infrastructure of the FCT, however, identified issues of transparency in contract awards, project execution, poor service delivery by contractors and embezzlement of funds in some instances as the bane of development of the nation’s capital and its environs.
He called on the FCT Minister to ensure adherence to the procurement process designated by the Law regarding contract variations. At the same time, she urged citizens to ask questions and hold leaders to account.
On what the FCT Minister must do to combat contracting corruption in FCT, Orinya said: “The Minister (Nyesom Wike) should put a system in place that will make corrupt transactions difficult. There should be a portal where people can verify what project is supposed to be in a particular area. There should be a proper evaluation mechanism, which will make them deliver projects.
“It’s about transparency and accountability. The public should know how much has been approved for a particular project. They (citizens) need to know the nature of each project within their environment so that they can ask questions.
“We have a procurement process – where you have to identify projects, plan projects, there is a process for approval and funding. Are we following this process in awarding contracts by law,” he questioned.
On her part, a Human Rights lawyer, Mary Musa, pleaded with Nyesom Wike and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to consider the plight of PWDs as demolition of buildings is expected to intensify under his watch.
Musa, who noted that PWDs are impacted heavily by systemic corruption, claimed that the PWD community in the Karonmajigi area of the FCT was not notified before the latest demolition of structures in the area, leaving many of them stranded.
“If we look at the precedent of the FCT Minister from River state, we know what he did regarding the physical environment. We are very optimistic, but we just want him not to give up, but consider especially persons with disabilities as the demolition is going on and as new structures are coming up in the FCT”.
She decried the failure of government and private establishments to comply with provisions of the Disability Act of 2019, hence urging the FCTA to make the territory accessible to PWDs.
“How many bridges in Abuja can you assess if you were in a wheelchair? Truthfully, how many road sidewalks can you assess if you were blind? How many buildings are accessible; even governments, buildings, how many are accessible,” Musa queried.
FCT residents who phoned into the radio programme lamented the spate of abandoned projects and called for rapid development of the satellite towns, which would, in turn, decongest Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Recall Wike had recently condemned the abuse of contract variation in the territory, pointing out that the case of the Ushafa-Bwari Road contract, which was varied from N50 billion to N200 billion, is unacceptable. He also warned contractors handling projects and FCT’s team of engineers against contract variations.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program PRIMORG uses to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.