BOA, NPHCDA In N2bn Loan, Procurement Scandal

BOA, NPHCDA In N2bn Loan, Procurement Scandal
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  • Ministry should be held responsible – Bank insists
  • Agency spokesman keeps mum

Abdul Lateef Taiwo

For the Federal Government run Bank of Agriculture, BOA, the cookies seem set to crumble. The Bank incorporated as an agricultural development bank to provide support for all Parts of agricultural value chain and non-agricultural micro credit is trapped by its murky disbursement of unsecured loans even as the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in a similar scenario has been fingered in a shoddy N840.

6 million Covid-19 intervention deal.

Investigations by AljazirahNigeria revealed  massive fraud in the disbursement of  Agriculture  Transformation Agenda, ATA, private Sector mechanization intervention programmes worth N3, 200,592,007 00 and the N712 million Japanese/National Planning Commission revolving scheme facility by the Bank of Agriculture .

Contained in an audit report’s query from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, exclusively obtained by AljazirahNigeria, ten vendors were approved to supply the needed tractors, implements and other equipment deemed necessary for the Agriculture Transformation Agenda, ATA, private Sector Mechanization intervention programme worth N3, 200,592, 007,00 of which 20% repayable equity contribution by Service Provider Operators, SPOs, 24 months after delivery to them.

Audit scrutiny on the recovery of the 20% Service Provider Operators, Equity contribution and performance of 35% refinancing loan granted , revealed that  the sum of N78,960,842,00 was recovered as at first quarter of March 2016 , leaving a balance of the recovery outstanding of the loan totaling N828,975,628.51.

While the Japanese/National Planning Revolving Loan which amounts to N721.2 million and N493million totaling N1, 214, 200,000.00 domiciled with the BOA was disburse to 70 beneficiaries have accumulated to the tune of N2,703.757, 186, 13 as at November 2008.

Indeed AljazirahNigeria gathered that two sets of selection for 98 and 70 beneficiaries were carried out in 2006 and 2007, but the disbursement went to proxies and prominent Nigerians who have nothing to do with the loans.

Our investigations revealed that more than 60% of the beneficiaries’ offices rather than farms are located in highbrow areas in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Lagos.

However, the names and addresses of the defaulters were contained in a response by the Bank Of Agriculture to the query from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation , submitted to the Senate Committee on Public Account, with reference No. BOA/PAC/MD/CEO/2017 entitled, “Re: Public Hearing on the Annual Report of the Auditor General of the Federation for the Federation On the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria for the Year Ended 31st December 2015, signed by Professor Danbala Danju, the Managing Director/CEO of BOA, dated March 29, 2017”.

The list include the names of the Company, Chief promoters contact address, project types and the amount disbursed , for instance Pastor Mrs Akporaye, the promoter of Aso Multipurpose Co-op Society, with contact address Kainji village Kubwa Abuja, claimed she is into Agric Production,  A.A Ahmed of Mahaj Nigeria limited with , GUMEN TECH SHOPPING COMPLEX JUKWIO, PHASE1, Abuja,  M.O kwoche of 6 Elsie Femi Pearse Street , Victoria Island Lagos, Tourism,  Senator U Dahiru, c/o National Assembly and Waziri Kwaja .

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Others are S.O Fashanu, AB Mohammed , Bako Farm, Kebbi Farm  has no promoter listed , Nuhu S Waya, Hadiza Ridan, Dizan Donvian invst . ltd, MRS. Oseke Folade, Krenzo Bottling Co., Machi Okpechukwu, MACHI IVST.LTD, Mr. SN  Anni, Soleb INT LTD, Mrs. Anyiribe, TYNAD INVST. Ltd, Col. Mike Usoro, Wardrobe Linen Care, Dala Ent, Saba Jabana Nig. Ltd, and Sunday Dada Farms, S. Dada.

Others are AB Mohammed, Bako Farms, Miagro Ltd, M. Tauhid, and Hassan Sule, Najib Enterprises.

The Audit report wants the managing Director to furnish the office of the Auditor General with evidence of liability of these facilities, that the BOA claimed in its response have been transferred to the National Planning Commission and statement of Accounts of Banks.

In an addendum attached to the response to the query BOA threw the blame on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The BOA management stated that “It started on March 15, 2015 with the selection of the Service Providers Operators and the subsequent release of the Machines by the ministry. Similarly, the vendors were also accredited and shortlisted by the Advisory Ministerial Mechanization Committee, AMMC, BOA exonerates itself”.

Among the challenges the BOA identified in the recovery of the loans is the grudges the SPOS bore on the implementation of the programme.

BOA puts the outstanding of the loan as in May 2020 at N1, 896,302, 535.36,  451, 429,829.05 and N2,347,732, 364.41 as the principal interest respectively.

Contacted, the management of the BOA put the blame on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development saying: “We are just fund managers, we don’t go to the field, we only disburse on the recommendation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development” Daniel Olatomide, the spokesperson told AljazirahNigeria in a telephone chat.

Continued, Olatomide, told AljazirahNigeria, “We cannot tell the ministry who should be given or who should not be given, we are like an agent” he said.

But the Audit query from the Auditor General’s office while querying the BOA stated: “The management ought to have organized Desk Officers in tracking investments, so as to ensure investments are progressed according to plan, thereby reducing the risk of default and ensure timely initiation of remedial interventions where there were obvious challenges.

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The noose seems to be tightening for years on the Bank of Agriculture, BOA incorporated in 1972 and became operational in 1973, following the shoddy manner it handles its mandate had its name changed to Nigeria Agricultural and Cooperative Bank. It was established to provide loans to support all parts of the Agricultural Value Chain, non-Agricultural and Micro credit to the vulnerable, to reflect its broader mandate. It was later transformed into Bank of Agriculture and has been allegedly linked with many financial improprieties as the disbursement of loan has remained the most scandalous.

However, the National Primary Health Care Development  Agency, NPHCDA, has been allegedly enmeshed in  financial scandal, AljazirahNigeria  reliably gathered  that  the Agency  appears to have connived  with  four companies to inflate  contracts for the supply of medical equipment  as the Nigeria struggle to flatten the  Covid 19  curve.

The four companies received contracts worth millions of naira to supply infrared thermometers to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, but the prices were inflated, and one of the companies was not legally registered in Nigeria.

AT the height of the coronavirus pandemic in April, major companies and agencies of government in the country were buying thermometers as a new line of defence against the coronavirus.

However, the Federal Government in response to the pandemic approved the release of N840.6 million to the NPHCDA to make purchases of medical supplies, services and equipment in a race to manage the public health crises across the country.

Records obtained from the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal, NOCOPO, an open-source, public procurement platform showed that the NPHCDA approved 26 different COVID-19 emergency projects that were handled by nine companies and each of the projects completed within two days.

The coronavirus related contracts ranged from the supply of masks and medical equipment to printing services, infrared thermometers and training services.

AljazirahNigeria investigations showed that the NPHCDA offered lucrative contracts without a fully competitive bidding process to four companies at the tune of N226,167,500 to supply 2,615  infrared thermometers.

The contracts were worth four times more when compared to retail prices in open market in Abuja, Lagos   and Kaduna  also some of the companies received multiple contracts worth millions of naira for the supply of the infrared thermometers in different quantities indicating contract splitting, which is a breach of the 2007 Public Procurement Act, PPA.

The core mandate of the NPHCDA in the face of the coronavirus pandemic was to ensure that the Sustainable Primary Health Care Service System is delivered to the Nigerian populace especially in rural areas.

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Details of the distribution of the infrared thermometer remain a matter of conjecture.

The four pharmaceutical firms awarded contracts to supply infrared thermometers to the NPHCDA include Azmu Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Afri Generic Ltd, Dreams Pharmacy and Stores and Pharmacons International Ltd.

Data obtained from NOCOPO website showed that Azmu Pharmaceuticals Ltd was awarded multiple contracts by the NPHCDA to supply 475 units of infrared thermometers at N39,900,000 and 605 units at N49,912,500 respectively.

Dreams Pharmacy and Stores also received dual contracts from the NPHCDA to supply 460 units of infrared thermometers at N38,410,000 and 330 units at N27,390,000 of which both projects were completed within two days each.

While Afri Generic Ltd received N46,900,000 to supply 460 units of infrared thermometers and Pharmacons International Ltd was also awarded N23,655,000 to supply 285 infrared thermometers.

AljazirahNigeria investigation of the procurement details of the contracts issued to the pharmaceutical firms confirmed that Azmu Pharmaceuticals Ltd sold the thermometers to the NPHCDA at the cost of N84,000 and N82,500 each.

Dreams Pharmacy and Stores sold the infrared thermometers to the NPHCDA at N83,000 and N83,500 respectively. While Afri Generic Ltd and Pharmacons International Ltd sold the thermometers at N83,750 and N83,000 each.

A visit to the NPHCDA Office by AljazirahNigeria to get clarifications was like the proverbial camel passing through the eye of a needle. With a series of attempts to deny our reporters access to the office, one Mohammed Ohitoto, who claimed to be the Spokesperson of the Agency, said that the management will forward documents and response to our inquiry. He requested that all enquiries be sent to his WhatsAPP account; a social medium account platform, which was promptly done but as of the time of going to the press he neither sent any document nor responded to our calls.

AljazirahNigeria checks at the Corporate Affairs Commission office, CAC, in Abuja shows that the name of one of the companies could not be found on the records of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, as a legitimately registered company in Nigeria.

Therefore, the NPHCDA disregarded the Public Procurement Act of 2007, that stipulates that for a company to be eligible to handle contracts for the Nigerian government; prospective bidders are expected to provide evidence of registration on the database of Federal Contractors, Consultants and Service Providers by submitting Interim Registration Report or valid certificate issued by the BPP.

To be eligible for this, companies must be registered with CAC to participate in the bidding process.