From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Chairman of House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee Investigating the Governing Lease of Federal Government Owned Assets and Review of Port Concession Agreement with the terminal operators at Calabar Port, Rt Hon Daniel Asuquo, says the House will sanction corrupt public officers over the misuse of public assets.
Asuquo, who stated this while briefing journalists in Calabar after an interactive sesaion with management of Calabar Port and other terminal operators, said the committee was set up by the House to examine governing needs of national assets.
The federal lawmaker representing Akamkpa/Biase federal constituency, said it is high time public officers entrusted with national assets managed them well and lived up to expectations by making returns on investment especially in this nick of time Nigeria is in dire need of finances to run governance.
He decried the state of the nations assets, explaining that what they saw at various ports in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Calabar visited so far does not depict the humongous investments into these ports by federal government.
According to him the committee decided to move their sittings to the different leases premises in different states where these assets are located to be fair to them an avoid excuses from the operators of the assets.
He said: “Let me put it on record that this particular committee will make sure that public servants who have deliberately or intentionally colluded to give out our assets for nothing or allowed lapses in the drafting of those agreements, which we have seen loopholes, will be recommended to the appropriate quarters for sanction.
“Then for corporate bodies and people who have also capitalised on those loopholes will also be sent to the sanctioning agencies like the EFCC to bring them to book. We have always said it that Nigeria has become a place where people just break and share, there is no nationalistic interest to build this nation for the future.
“We all have children whom we should bequeath good national heritage to. If these assets of the federal government are not properly managed and do not generate what is due to then, then Nigeria will continue borrowing. Once we finish the exercise, I can assure you we will recover and sanction appropriately”, he said.
On corruption, he said: “I have just said it that there is corruption everywhere. Corruption is not only when money is being diverted, which of course money has been diverted. Corruption is also when a responsible business enterprise that holds back government funds deliberately because you have seen a loophole you are capitalising on.”
He further decried the practice at Onne Port in Port Harcourt where NPA entered into an agreement with a particular firm to mange one of the terminals at the cost of $100m and after the federal had finished paying the agreed amount, some person in NPA drafted another agreement without recourse to the government and were collecting the proceeds into their private pockets illegally, thereby denying governemnt of substantial revenues.
He wondered why responsible public servants came together and signed an illegal addendum and reverted to 70-30% in favour of the company, adding that now NPA is demanding that the company is owing about $40m and company is insisting that are not because the illegal agreement protects them.