Members of the Senate Committee on Public Account were shocked when the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources admitted that the Ministry spent N14.5 million for the supply of Schneider Biros, N46 million for the Ministry’s letter headed papers and N56 million for the supply of toners.
The Office of the Auditor General of Federation in its report issued a query to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources about the purchases.
The query reads: “The contract for the supply of Schneider biros worth N14.5 million was split into smaller packages of less than N5 million each was awarded to four different companies in order to circumvent the permanent secretary’s approval threshold of N5 million.
“Similarly, the contract for the printing of the Ministry’s letter headed papers worth N46 million was also split and awarded to 11 different contractors.
“Also, the contract for the supply of toners worth N56 million was split and awarded to seven different contractors.
“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to explain this contravention of the public procurement Act, 2007.”
The Committee, chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, therefore asked the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, represented by Director of Finance and Account, Godwin Akubo, to respond to the query.
The Representative of the Permanent Secretary, however said: “The action of the Ministry was a quick response to need of the various departments in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
“These awards followed normal rules and procedures.
“The contract were not split. They were awarded to the various contractors at different times when item were needed.
“The sum of N46.6 million used for printing of letter headed papers followed due process and large sum of money is explained by the volume of the letter headed papers produced for most of Department as per attached different letter headed papers.”
Displeased by the shoddy defence of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, the Chairman of the Committee sustained the query and asked the Committee Secretariat to document the money spent and ask for the refund from the officers involved in the Ministry.