- After N9.2bn stoves for rural women project flops
Five years into the controversies trailing the procurement of N9.2 billion cook stoves for rural women, the Federal Ministry of Environment is shopping for companies to procure and distribute cook stoves to “institutions.”
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan had in 2015 approved $4.8 million (about N9.2bn) contracts for the supply of 750,000 cook stoves under the National Clean Cookstove Scheme (NCCS) for rural women.
Daily Trust reports that the cook stove initiative was meant to checkmate felling of trees and to also enhance cleaner environment especially in rural areas of Nigeria.
However, the N9.2bn contract for the cooking stoves has remained a subject of controversy occasioned by litigations while millions of the targeted women in the rural areas are yet to get the stoves. Sources told Daily Trust that officials of the ministry are now distributing the stoves to senior civil servants with some allegedly selling them.
Ministry begins N88m stove contract
While the 2015 problems associated with the contract for the provision of stoves to women is yet to be resolved, the Federal Ministry of Environment is now coming up with another stove project worth N88 million, according to documents seen by Daily Trust.
Officials of the ministry said the new plan is targeted at institutions and therefore completely different from the clean stove project of 2015 which targeted rural women. The ministry, in a recent advertorial called for proposals from companies to execute the N88.2 million contract.
However, instead of the name used in 2015 which had the acronym ‘NCCS,’ the new scheme is christened the Nigerian Institutional Clean Cookstove Acceleration Scheme with the acronym ‘NICCAS. The ministry in the advertorial said the project is being supported by the European Union (EU) and the German Government.
The ministry added that the project is being executed under the Nigerian Energy Support Project (NESP).
A source privy to the new project said commercial firms including restaurants, boarding schools among others are being targeted as potential buyers of the cook stoves.
Analysis of the project’s details obtained from the ministry shows that the unit cost for a stove is N44,100 and the companies will be allowed 120% profit margin which will amount to N52,920. At the end, one stove will sell for N97,020 during the 24 months duration.
On the financing of this fresh project, the document said there will be a 50% grant contribution, 30% equity contribution from the companies of about N26.5m; 20% debt contribution (N17.64m), 14% cost of equity and 18% cost of debt. Further analysis indicates that the ministry, through its Department of Climate Change, will deploy the stoves across parts of the north, central and southern regions.
Flashback on FG’s failed N9.2bn cook stoves
Daily Trust reports that the sum of $4.8 million (about N9.2bn) was earmarked in 2015 under the Ecological Funds for the supply of 750,000 cook stoves under the NCCS.
However, the project was soon overwhelmed by controversies that include a court case after the project was cancelled by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The contractor, Messrs Integra Renewable Energy Services Limited, had gotten the approval for the project in November 2014. It was given three months to supply 750,000 units and 18,000 wonder bags. The controversy continued and in March 2019, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Environment, Aishatu Dukku, during a visit to the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW), brought up the issues of the abandoned cook stoves.
But the Director General of NAGGW, Dr Bukar Hassan, said the units supplied were stored because the contract was cancelled and that they are for now a court exhibit pending the determination of the lawsuit.
The then permanent secretary of the ministry, Fatima Mede, confirmed that N5 billion was released to the ministry and that the contractor was paid N1.3bn.
Findings show that the contractor got 15% mobilisation fee and supplied about 299,000 units which were kept in storehouses at the velodrome at the National Stadium in Abuja. However, when our correspondents visited the velodrome last week, it was gathered that the stoves have been moved to the National Park Services headquarters along airport road, about a kilometre from the Abuja City Gate.
A source at the National Stadium said the stoves were moved out of the velodrome in August 2018 in preparation for the National Sports Festival. “They moved the stoves a long time ago, we saw the trucks heading towards airport road,” he said.
How contractors will handle the new stove project
A bidder will first deploy 220 stoves in each region and provide a bankable plan to deploy another 2000 units.
The project will be implemented in three phases: pilot, replication and capitalisation. The Ministry of Environment said it will provide a grant support but not on cash basis.
“It will print materials and create awareness across the regions about the project especially during the marketing campaigns and workshops,” the document indicated.
The document added that, “There will also be technical assistance from the partners to support the selected companies.
“The companies to be selected must have at least five employees with two women and must have deployed 50 stoves before. Eligible company must also have capacity to produce and deploy 400 stoves in one year that would last beyond one year.”
The ministry also wants the companies to provide a list of about 100 customers they will be able to sell the stoves to in their business plan.
They have 60 days to submit their bid from December 2, 2019 when the proposal was published in some national dailies.
From February 2, the ministry will evaluate the bid and announce the winners after three months which could be by May 2020.
Environmentalists want old project delivered
Some advocates and experts in the environment sector have decried the obvious “duplicity of the cook stoves” projects and the strange procedures that make distribution of the units already supplied difficult and at the detriment of rural women and the environment.
Mr Hamzat Lawal who is the Chief Executive Officer of Connected Development (CODE), an agency which has been pushing for transparency of the old project, expressed shock that a new project has commenced when the old one has not been concluded.
“The new planned project should not be a reason to leave the earlier N9.2bn meant for 750,000 which is being investigated by EFCC and ICPC,” he said.
Also speaking, Hajiya Salmat Abdulwaheed of Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), said Nigerians knew the old project will never see the light of the day.
“The new project will also die like the old project. It seems this government wants to repeat same mistake of the former government,” Salmat said.
Government officials get the stoves instead of rural women
While the rural women who were supposed to be the direct beneficiaries of the cook stoves are yet to receive them, our reporters found that many of the stoves were left under trees at the National Park Service while some were distributed to government officials.
Sources said the Ministry of Environment decided to distribute some of the stoves to its staff.
One of those who spoke in confidence said the stoves were being taken away from the National Park Service in small numbers and distributed to some staff.
“Senior civil servants are being given up to seven stoves…Some are selling them off to interested buyers.”
New project to encourage institutions – Ministry
When contacted on the reason for the new project, the Director, Department of Climate Change, Dr Peter Tarfa, said it is an entirely different initiative by the German organization, GIZ.
Responding in a message through Sagir el-Mohammed who is the Director of Press in the Ministry of Environment, the climate change director said, “It is to encourage institutions and it is to be funded by the GIZ.”