Politics

Rowdiness Mars Senate’s Public Hearing On $4.451bn NLNG Train 7 Project

The investigative public hearing organised by the National Assembly’s joint committee on Gas into the $4.451 billion Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 Project was on Thursday marred by controversies, disagreements and rowdiness.

Twice and for over an hour each, the joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives conducting the investigation went into closed-door sessions with the NLNG officials led by its Project Director, Ali Uwais, as well as the contractors handling the project.

Trouble started when Uwais submitted a document containing what the lawmakers called limited information.

Uwais also told the committee that the fluctuation in foreign exchange rate was a principal cause of contract variation.

On the status of the project, Uwais said: “The overall progress of the project is at 67% completion, made up of engineering at 97.9%, procurement at 95.5% and construction at 52.5%.

Amid the tense situation, the committee went into the first closed-door session. After an hour of secret talks, reporters were called in to monitor the situation.

Lawmakers took their turn to condemn the insistence of NLNG and the contractors on not making useful information available for the investigation.

The contentious issues include the lack of information and explanation on the original contract sum which was $4,372,760,462.

Others are limited information on the 99 total variation requests worth $177,892,289; approved 62 variation orders amounting to $43,771,475; and approved amendments (claims/settlement) worth $35,000,000.

The NLNG had informed the committee that there were five variation requests being evaluated and they amounted to $7,609,678.

But having failed to get the information they requested, the committee, in a resolution, agreed to formally make their requests known to the NLNG in terms of document and other information needed.

It also charged the NLNG to halt further variations in the $4.451,731,937 billion contract.

The Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, expressed disappointment that a clause in the document clearly said that “figures contained therein are disputed and subject to ongoing legally privileged commercial negotiations”.

Jarigbe said it means the figures can’t be used for the investigation.

The Committee adjourned to reconvene on July 3, 2024.

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