An audit of the COVID-19 grant given to the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Global Fund has revealed $19.6m worth of procurements related to COVID-19 were awarded to contractors without financial statements and unregistered businesses among others.
This was contained in the Fund’s audit report, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent on Wednesday.
The PUNCH reports that the Global Fund is a partnership designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics.
It mobilises and invests more than $4bn a year to support programmes run by local experts in more than 100 countries.
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the organisation released grants to help in curtailing the spread.
However, the audit report obtained by our correspondent stated that the organisation found fault in the $19.6m worth of procurement broken down into $7.5m, $3.5m, and $8.6m.
The report read, “The audit noted non-adherence with eligibility requirements for 67% (six out of nine) of sampled procurements totalling US $7.5m, where vendors were awarded contracts without providing bank/performance guarantees, despite this being a pre-condition for contract awards.
“A joint venture was awarded two contracts worth $3.5m without being legally registered, and without providing the bank/performance guarantee.
“In addition, eight of nine sampled vendors were awarded contracts amounting to $8.6m despite not providing certified financial statements.”
The organisation also faulted the procurement evaluation process by the National Agency for the Control of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, which is one of its principal partners in Nigeria.
The audit report added, “The absence of key tender documents to assess vendor performance poses risks to suppliers not being able to execute contracts or deliver on time.
“NACA’s procurement evaluation process lacks technical and financial scoring criteria to assess the best-suited bidder beyond the set eligibility criteria. Contracts were awarded to the lowest-priced bidder, regardless of technical qualifications and capacity. Some suppliers were unable to fulfill contracts as expected, due to their lack of capacity to handle large orders, and others supplied sub-standard commodities.
“For example, 63,056 procured masks by CRS were rejected by Association for Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition, as unusable, while a $3.5m contract to supply coveralls and lab gowns was awarded to a vendor who had only previously handled contract totalling $71k, and who subsequently requested to extend the delivery period from six to 12 weeks.
“On average, commodities were procured with delays of 142 days against procurement plan targets.” The Global Fund also noted in the report that, “Lagos State Ministry of Health procurements took, on average, 172 days from initiation to contract signing. These delays contributed to the low absorption of C19RM 2020 funds and to stock-outs of COVID-19 commodities. Limited oversight by the Fiscal Agent also contributes to the procurement gaps. The Fiscal Agent oversees the process for all local procurements and reviews all payment vouchers at high risk implementers.”
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, could not immediately respond to inquiries by The PUNCH concerning the indicting report. He did not take his calls and has yet to respond to a text message sent to him on the matter as of the time of filing this report.
Efforts to reach NACA’s Head of Press and Public Relations, Toyin Aderibigbe, also proved abortive.
She also did not take her calls and has yet to respond to a text message sent to her.
But the Convener, Adopt a Goal Initiative, Dare Ariyo-Atoye, in an interview with The PUNCH, simply said, “the country needs to embrace transparency.”