Reps summon health minister, others over $300m anti-malaria contract scam

* accuse civil servants of frustrating government’s efforts

The House of Representatives on Tuesday summoned Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa and Permanent Secretary over allegation bothering on illegal award of contract worth $300 million for procurement anti-malaria process.

Chairman, House Committee on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Hon. Amobi Ogah who issued the notice, during an investigative hearing into the petition issued by Seasons Law Firm on behalf of Rosie’s Textile Mils Limited against Federal Ministry of Health for denying indigenous manufacturers of insecticidal nets from participating in the contract for the procurement of insecticidal nets and other related products.

Worried by the refusal of the Permanent Secretary to honour the three invitations sent by the Committee, the lawmakers unanimously resolved to summon the Minister, Permanent Secretary and all the parties involved in the procurement process with a view to ensure accountability of the borrowed fund from the World Bank and Islamic Bank.

In his address, Hon. Ogah observed that “Nigeria borrowed $100 million from Islamic Bank which was approved by National Assembly in 2021 out of the S100 million, $10 million was grant and another $200 million borrowed from World Bank in the same year for Impact Project (Malaria Financing Agreement). Making it a total of S$300 million.

“The resolution by National Assembly is that Local Content must be prioritized to enable Local manufacturers, but the Ministry went ahead to contract UNOPS yo do the procurement process at the cost of over $300 million for the purchase of anti-malaria commodities.”

He observed that rather than honouring the Committee’s invitations, the Permanent Secretary has been sending several people to talk to him.

“We all know that malaria is an epidemic in Nigeria. I can tell us that the government has always wanted to help the people but most times the civil servants are our problems.

“This money has been made available since 2001, we have been inviting the Perm Sec, this is the third time that we are inviting her to come and explain to us what has happened. Have you used the money; if they have not used the money, where is the money? If they have used the money to buy anti-malaria commodities, where are they? It’s a matter of simple explanation.

“But they have been running away, calling on all manners of people to talk to us. But we are here to defend Nigerians, we are elected to represent our people. Nigerians cannot continue to die of malaria, even when government has made every necessary effort to see that eradication of malaria is being achieved, at least by 2030.

“As Chairman of African Parliamentary Governor on eradication of malaria now to 2030, my duty is enormous champion this cause. It is left for us as Committee to decide on what we should do.”

While stressing the need for National Assembly’s intervention with a view to forestall it from ending in litigation, Hon. Ogah underlined the need to broker truce among the all the parties amicably.

In his remarks, Hon. Saba Adamu urged the Committee to compelled the Ministry to refund the $300 million to treasury following the Permanent Secretary’s refusal to appear before the Committee.

While noting that affirming the need to made some of the erring public office holders as scape goats, the lawmakers argued that it is insulting to invite the Perm Secretary and he refused to honour the Committee’s invitation.

To this end, the committee issued 72 hours ultimatum to the Minister, Permanent Secretary to appear before it”.

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