A MAJOR financial crisis might be looming in Enugu State following moves by the State Ministry of Education and the State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) to award a contract of over N1b for the construction and remodeling of schools.
The renovation, The Guardian learnt, involves about 600 primary and junior secondary schools in the state and is being funded from the N3.6b counterpart funding contributed between the Federal and Enugu State government in line with the law establishing universal basic education programme.
Each of the two bodies contributed about N1.8b for the three-year period from 2010 and 2012, with the funds now domiciled in one of the new generation banks since April this year.
What is unsettling the state presently is the mode for the award of contract, which is beyond the financial limits of ENSUBEB as stipulated in the procurement law of the state, signed into law last year
Going by the procurement law and Enugu State government internal control, ministries and agencies of government, under which ENSUBEB fall, lack powers to award contracts beyond N10m.
But on June 4 this year, the Ministry of Education and ENSUBEB, in an unsigned paid advertisement in national dailies, invited contractors to bid for the award of contracts for the construction/remodeling of the schools.
The advertisement further asked applicants to submit all documents within two weeks of the date of publication to the Chairman of ENSUBEB.
Although the prequalification requirements is viewed as stringent, however, only three slots were advertised; an indication that the ministries may be targeting three contractors to execute the construction work for the 600 primary and junior secondary schools in the state.
It also asked for evidence of execution of N500m building contracts as well as evidence of satisfactory execution and completion of building contracts with annual cumulative value of at least N400m.
A Government House source disclosed yesterday that the executive council had neither sat nor taken any decision on the matter and wondered how an agency of government would want to award such job without due process.
“The truth is that certain procedures are being subverted here, because if you look at the publication already made, you will agree that there is already a target. They are talking about prefab materials for construction of primary schools, which I think has not happened anywhere in the state. Prefab materials are costly and usually used by high quality builders,” the source disclosed on anonymity.
He, however, said that the prequalification documents were being collected, stressing that at the expiration of the duration for the submission of intents, it would be laid before the executive council for ratification.