May 24, 2024

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council may have been deceived into approving N4 billion for the purchase of a new office complex in Abuja for the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM.

The approval, according to reliable sources, was based on the presentation by the NAICOM management that they were buying a ready-to-use magnificent office complex better than what they were currently using in Garki 2 District of Abuja.

The said building, which was initially valued at N2.5 billion, was surreptitiously raised to N4 billion by the time the presidential assent was obtained.

The cost of the building is expected to further rise by the time agency fees and taxes are added but the commission may also need to expend additional N5 billion or more to put the carcass into a functional office use.

Vanguard gathered that trouble, however, started when the management of the commission went to draw the cash but was promptly informed by the Director of Finance and Administration that there was no cash backing for the payment and that it would be imprudent to expend such cash towards the end of the year that could affect staff salaries and other recurrent matters.

At the same time, Vanguard learned that many of the board members were dissatisfied with the discovery that the building for which the huge sum was to be committed was still under construction, against the position of management that it was a ready-to-use complex.

Many of the board members were, therefore, opposed to paying the huge cash for the uncompleted structure.

A source in NAICOM said that the Deputy Commissioner and other senior management staff of the commission opposed the move on the ground that the building was not worth the huge amount and that the agency had a functional office complex in place.

But it was learnt that some top officials of NAICOM working with some powerful officials in the Presidency had pushed for the cash to be taken out of the commission on or before August 25, 2022.

It was gathered that moves are being made to get the money out of the Dollar Account 

In the place of the DFA, the leadership of NAICOM reportedly handpicked an assistant director to handle the finances of the commission with immediate effect.

Similarly, the commissioner for Insurance has gone ahead to effect the signatories with the accountant-general’s office so as to pave the way for the cash withdrawal.

However, things came to a head on Monday when the Chairman of the Governing Board led the members to inspect the building.

It was gathered that the board members discovered to their chagrin that the purported ‘completed office building’ was nothing but an uncompleted building originally slated for a hotel that could require another N5 billion to complete and put to office use.

An inside source said: “The commissioner got the approval from FEC to acquire a befitting office complex for NAICOM but the approval is yet to be backed with cash.

“Surprisingly, the man became desperate after being advised to get cash backing before drawing the cash. The commissioner decided to boycott necessary protocols by transferring the finance director and mounting pressure on an assistant director in the finance and accounts department to proceed to the Accountant General’s office to effect a change in the mandate to enable him move out the money.”

‘The union and staff members are aggrieved and are battle ready should the purchase be carried out.

This is so as some of them contacted claimed that there would be no money left in the account should the property be purchased in this budget year.

Vanguard could not ascertain last night if the cash had been taken out as at the close of work on Friday.

But when contacted the spokesman of NAICOM, Razak Salami, neither confirmed nor denied the claims but promised to make an official position of the agency known next week.

“I will respond to the matter once I settle down,” Salami promised when contacted by one of our correspondents

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