INVESTIGATION: How Nigeria’s Space Agency Officials Looted Over N300 Million (Part 2)
More scandalous is the yearly upgrade of “NASRDA Ground Segment” in Abuja, a budget sub-head that has now become a code for syphoning public funds.
In the 2017 budget, the sum of N500 million was appropriated for upgrading the ground segment. It is supposed to be a yearly upgrade of the advanced computation laboratory for satellite control and image download. It also covers training of staff, insurance of equipment and satellite/equipment valuation.
The agency claimed only N241.4 million of the budgeted funds was released to it for that year, nearly fifty percent of the appropriated amount. But shocking, instead of purchasing the necessary hardware and software for the upgrade and commissioning experts to train its staff, NARSDA management found other uses for the money. THE WHISTLER’s investigation shows there was no upgrade for the year 2017.
Instead, the management of NARSDA dubiously rolled the project into the 2018 budget under different sub-heads.
Another project on the list of capital projects for 2017 fraudulently converted to private pockets is the upgrade of “Experts System: for its Abuja ground station. The project, for which N120 million was budgeted, was to upgrade all the high-performance computer systems and electronics of the station.
NARSDA claimed in its budget performance report that the upgrade was 73 percent completed while nothing of such is on ground. This was also rolled over into the 2018 budget different sub-head.
This is why NARSDA had problems defending its 2019 appropriation before the senate last month. The senate committee on science and technology is headed by Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice. His vice chairman is Marafa Bashir.
The committee members had questioned several inconsistencies in the agency’s 2019 budget and its defense of the 2018 expenditure.
But the agency had always escaped the hammer by dangling ‘carrots’ in the faces of the legislators and co-opting them as accomplices.
This is why despite being overstaffed with 734 staff on its personnel emolument payroll, NARSDA wooed the legislators by secretly employing fresh set of one hundred personnel, mostly nominated by them.
DG Eyes Kogi Government House
Investigations by this website revealed that Dr Seidu Mohammed, the Director General of NARSDA who is serving his last term in office, may be at the head of this scam.
Sources close to him disclosed that the DG is nursing a political ambition and planned to run for the governorship of Kogi state in the next election.
Thus, according to sources, he is trying to stash enough cash to execute his political campaign before quitting the space agency.
NARSDA Management Keeps Mute On Alleged Scam
THE WHISTLER contacted Jonathan Angulu, Director of Procurement of the agency to explain whereabouts of the money released for the capital projects highlighted in the 2017 budget but got no response. He also failed to reply to text messages sent to his phone.
The Head, Media and Corporate Affairs of NASRDA, Felix Ale, was also contacted to shed light on development in the agency. He asked to be given time to verify the allegations and promised to get back to the reporter. But he never did. He also stopped picking the reporter’s calls and refused to reply text messages.
The website also contacted the Director General, Dr. Seidu Muhammed to shed light on the malfeasance going on in NARSDA under his watch no avail. The DG refused to reply text messages sent to his phone.