The Senate has mandated the Committees on Health, Primary Health Care and Communicable Disease, Works, and Housing to investigate the abandoned N400 billion National Primary Health Center Project initiated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo across the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria.
The resolution was reached on Wednesday during plenary by the chamber after it considered a motion to that effect.
The motion; “Need to investigate the abandoned N400 billion National Primary Health Center Project”, was sponsored by Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central).
Oloriegbe, in his presentation, noted that the project was initiated by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006.
According to the lawmaker, the project was to build in each of the 774 Local Government Areas, a 60 bed Primary Health Center to be complimented with a three bedroom flat, doctors quarters, an ambulance and all basic hospital equipment and drugs.
He said: “In order to achieve this lofty project, the Federal Government deducted monies from the excess crude account of all the 774 Local Government Areas on a monthly basis, warehouse the same with the then Platinum Habib Bank (now Keystone Bank) until the funds required for the actualization of the project was realized.
“The Bill of Quantities for the project was prepared by the then Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement.
“Despite all those professional pre-contract activities, the contract for the execution of the projects in the entire 774 Local Government Areas was awarded to Messrs Mattans Nig. Ltd without any known tendering and selection process.
“Messrs Mattans Nig. Ltd proceeded and sub-contracted out the jobs to consultant and sub-contractors without any verification of capacity and capabilities to properly execute the jobs a consent of the government or its agencies involved then.
“Various sums of money were released to these sub-contractors through the accounts of Messr Mattans Nig. Ltd domiciled with the then platinum Habib Bank (now Keystone Bank) to carry out the projects at the selected locations across the 774 Local Government Areas in the Country; and
“Some of these projects were commenced and abandoned at various stages while majority of them were never started despite huge sums of money released to all the sub-contractors.”
Contributing, Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar (Kwara North), said that the delivery of good healthcare to Nigerians is an aspect that can ensure the development of the country.
He observed that the recorded successes in healthcare delivery in developed climes are directly tied to the quality of primary health services.
“The key policy for primary healthcare in Nigeria is that every ward across the country must have a functional primary healthcare center where people can access healthcare delivery to be able to take care of maternal mortality rates that we are concerned about and other related health issues,” Umar said.
He lamented that the National Primary Health Center projects dispersed across the various constituencies have been abandoned by the contractors, some of whom are unknown.
“We need to take this very seriously, investigate this and make sure we know exactly what happened,” he added.
On his part, Senator Matthew Urhogide (Edo South), said the merit of the National Primary Health Center project cannot be downplayed in view of its importance to healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
He added that the project was supposed to be the basis for the establishment of primary health centers in the 774 local government areas.
He disclosed that recently, some of the representatives of companies who were awarded the contracts appeared before some of the Senate Committees to claim that they haven’t been paid for the execution of the projects.
He added further that there are several committees of the Ninth Senate that have been inundated with several complaints about the projects.
“I think this is an opportunity for us to really look into this matter dispassionately and put the blame where it is, because Nigerians have been shortchanged by the project.
“The money has been paid substantially but there is nothing to show for it.
“Some of the persons who are connected with this have been trying to talk to people here and there, even in government, to see to it that they are compensated. They cannot be compensated when there is no work done.
“This Senate will do good if we get our appropriate committees to look into the matter and bring the recommendations to the Senate, so that we can be on the side of the people,” he said.
Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South), said the abandoned project was a “commitment to primary health gone wrong.”
Accordingly, the chamber resolved that the investigation must determine the status of the 100 percent project funds warehoused with the then Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank); determine the level of progress and status of the projects in each of the 774 Local Government; carry-out evaluation of the consultant, contractor and sub-contractors that participated in the project; carry-out a schedule of dilapidation on the projects; and recommend ways of completing the projects nationwide.
The Joint Committee was given six weeks to complete the investigation and report back to the chamber in plenary.