$100 million malaria loan project in Nigeria stalled - Minister


Staff writer


FMOH logoFRIDAY MAY 24, 2024. The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Ali Pate, has disclosed that a malaria project for which the Nigerian government took a $100 million loan from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has been stalled due to concerns about collusion in the bidding process in the selection of the local content procurement partner and the ability of the local party to perform.


Dr. Pate disclosed this on Wednesday, May 22 during an investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria into the implementation of the Islamic Bank Loan to support malaria elimination in Nigeria under the Lives and Livelihood Project.


In his submission to the committee, Dr. Pate said the agreement for the $100 million project was signed in 2022 by the Nigerian government with the IDB and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as the project/procurement consultant.


He explained that a Nigerian company, whose name he did not disclose, emerged from a competitive national bidding process as the only pre-qualified local content procurement entity.


Dr. Pate further explained that following the company’s emergence, UNOPS alleged collusion in the local bidding process and claimed that the local content procurement partner did not have the ability to perform under the agreement. Subsequently, an investigation was launched at UNOPS head office in New York, and the Nigerian company was found guilty and blacklisted from all UN contracts for three years.


Elaborating further, Dr. Pate told the committee that since the loan was signed and became effective, a total of $62 million was disbursed through the UNOPS in two tranches, while the Ministry of Health has spent only $201, 000 from the proceeds at the federal level.


“Of what has been disbursed to UNOPS as the project procurement agent as per the agreement, there is a balance of $54m that is still with UNOPS. So only about $8m has been utilised in buying drugs, kits, and commodities necessary as part of the programme and those products are on their way to be delivered by UNOPS.”


Dr. Pate explained that the allegation against the contractor and the terms of the agreement signed by the government on the procurement method has put the country in a fix on the loan.


The minister informed the committee that his ministry is considering a compromise that is alright with all the parties involved in the agreement in other resolve the stalemate.


The Chairman of the Committee, Amobi Ogah, expressed dissatisfaction about the situation, while alleging that UNOPS schemed to deny Nigerian local manufacturers from participating in the project.


He said: “With due respect, what UNOPS has done in this transaction is so bad because they can’t tell us as a country what the local manufacturer has done that made them disqualify this local manufacturer.”


Ogah added, “Anything that would undermine our quest to encourage local producers and manufacturers we seriously frown on it.”


After a rancorous argument over Mr. Ogah’s call for the UNPOS team to be sworn on oath to testify was subsequently withdrawn, as the minister advised the committee on the immunity status of UN officials, the committee eventually resolved that the minister should provide a comprehensive report of the transactions about the agreement to the committee within two weeks.


Source: Multiple agency reports



Published: May 24, 2024

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