Covid-19: REA denies allegations of corruption on procurement of solar-hybrid solutions

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By Ikenna Omeje

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has denied allegations of corruption levelled against four top of its officials on the procurement of solar-hybrid power solutions for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Isolation and Treatment Centres at Yaba, Lagos, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory and the Ikene and Iberekodo centres in Ogun State.

The agency said that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) did not issue Certificates of No Objection for the projects, describing the accusation by a contractor who petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as false, baseless and unfounded.

A release by the agency’s Director of Promotions, Information and Outreach, Ayang Ogbe, said the Managing Director and three directors of the agency who appeared before the ICPC on September 17, 2020 for questioning over alleged corruption, did not do anything wrong but acted in strict compliance with the provisions of relevant public procurement laws.

The release stated: “The attention of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has been drawn to the newspaper publication in respect of the above subject matter, and the Agency wishes to state that the publication is false, and also advise that clarification should have been sought to get the true state of affairs from the Agency before publication. The true facts of the matter are as follows: 

His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari on March 29, 2020, in an address to the nation on national COVID-19 response exhorted public and private institutions as well as individuals to support government programmes in tackling the pandemic. In furtherance of this, the Honourable Minister of Power, in a press release of March 31, 2020 conveyed, among others, the support of his ministry in facilitating reliable power and his directives for REA’s intervention in the response.

“In compliance with the foregoing, REA, acting on requests from Ogun State Bureau of Electrical Engineering Services and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) dated 3rd April, 2020 and 7th April, 2020 respectively began a process of procuring solar-hybrid power solutions for the NCDC Isolation and Treatment Centres at Yaba, Lagos, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory and the Ikene and Iberekodo centres in Ogun State.”

The agency said that the procurement processes were in line with provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Appropriation Act 2020, adding that the respective Departments and officials of REA acted in strict compliance with the provisions of relevant Laws.

It stated that the procurement process was backed by cash releases of government for the respective projects, noting that the agency adopted Emergency Procurement Method, which is in line with Sections 42 and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007. 

“It is important to state that no payment has as of today been made to any of the contractors who executed these jobs.

“These projects delivered by REA at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, FCT, NCDC Public Health Laboratory, Yaba, Lagos and NCDC Isolation Centers in Ogun State have added value in strengthening our healthcare infrastructure beyond the current pandemic; blazing the trail for more Agencies of government in like support alongside the efforts of the private sector in response to the directives of Mr. president and the Honourable Minister of Power

“As a result of this initiative, the Honourable Minister of Finance and World Bank have endorsed a process for the restructuring of components of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) to deliver power to more frontline facilities of government across Federal and State levels using similar technology as we have done in the aforementioned locations for an initial 100 isolation and treatment centers. The effort is also being coordinated with the Federal Ministry of Health. A second phase of the programme will deliver electrification support for up to 400 primary health centres across the nation while serving an original purpose of NEP in delivering access and new connections in our rural communities. The projects are designed with their long-term sustainability in mind and will be operated by the private sector with their investments to drive them,” the release explained.

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