PTI: Senate summons petroleum minister, PTDF boss over N20bn abandoned projects
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Monday, April 02, 2012
Senate has invited the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Training Development Fund (PTDF), Muttagha Rabe Darma to explain the circumstances surrounding the non-completion of projects worth N20 billion.
The abandoned projects are at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Warri. The PTI management was also invited alongside the duo over the matter. They will appear before the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to explain why building projects have been abandoned at the PTI, Effurun-Warri, Delta State.
The projects have been on-going for five years; while some have been awarded, outrightly cancelled thereafter and they have not been re-awarded since then. The facts were unveiled during an oversight tour of the PTI by the Committee at the weekend.
The projects, which include two students hostels, administrative/office blocks, call duty quarters, a printing press, water works, generators and staff club, were parts of the comprehensive measures being taken by the Federal Government, through the PTDF to upgrade PTI, a middle-level manpower training centre for the oil and gas industry, to international standard.
Committee Chairman, Magnus Abe in company with his deputy, Senator Danjuma Goje and two other members of the committee were conducted round the facilities by PTI’s Acting Principal, Mrs. Nnena Clara Dennar and other top management of the institute. They were, however, stunned when Adebisi Ashimi refused to volunteer information about the status of the projects to the committee. He initially refused to talk, insisting that he couldn’t do so because he had no documents with him and besides, he was not told that the team needed his attention.
An angry Senator Abe reminded him that his intransigence was unacceptable because “you have been paid out of Nigerians’ money. As long as you are benefiting from Nigerian money, which is being used to finance these projects, you should be able to give us comprehensive answers.”
Thereafter, Ashimi opened up to the committee, explaining that he was leading five other engineering consultants on the building projects worth over N20 billion. The projects had been on-going since 2007, he said. An enraged Senator Goje, who compelled Ashimi to give details of the projects thereafter, declared: “We need to see your principals and the exact number of projects for us to know why this place, that’s critical to the nation’s economy, has been abandoned.
“N20 billion is not small money. With that kind of money, this place should be a construction site but we can’t even go ahead to inspect any project now. This is a terrible thing; it’s a pity.” Meanwhile, Mrs. Dennar has pleaded with the committee to incorporate the PTI in the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PTI), adding that it’s non-inclusion in the last version was a major challenge for the institute. She, however, told the lawmakers that the Institute was facing some challenges, including ageing facilities, which she said, “is having a negative impact on the training functions of the institute.”
In her opening remarks to the committee, she said that in attempt to address this, the Federal Government directed the PTDF to carry out a comprehensive upgrade of PTI to international standards
“To this end, the projects which are carried out in phases are at different stages of completion,” she said.