A whopping sum of FCFA 2 billion of tax payers’ money is now being used to repair the residence of the Senate President in Yaounde.
The edifice that is near the lakeside residence of the Prime Minister is the former residence of erstwhile Chief of Army Staff, General Pierre Semengue. Although the contract for the renewal of the building was awarded a long time ago, one enterprise, Cameroun PAC International, started executing the contract only two weeks ago.
Going by sources at the Senate, the Secretary General of the Senate, Michel Meva’a M’Eboutou, had earlier refused to approve the disbursement of funds for the project. The Post learnt that the scribe took exception to the fact that the project was over-billed.
He reportedly argued that such a huge sum of money is too much for repair works on such a building. To him, FCFA 2 billion should not be spent on such a building that is also expected to host the cabinet of the Senate President.
But the Senate Scribe was forced to reverse his decision when the Presidency gave its final word on the issue. Insiders moot that Meva’a M’Eboutou almost burnt his fingers because he did not know that some big guns at the Presidency also had interest in the contract.
However, observers hold that FCFA 2 billion is too much for such a project.
“This contract is a blank cheque for the embezzlement of public funds. How will any normal person agree with the fact that FCFA 2 billion is not being used to construct a new edifice but to repair an old building for the President of the Senate?” one Senator, who elected not to be named, wondered in a reaction to The Post.
He further asked: “How can such a huge sum of money be used for the comfort of one individual when millions of Cameroonians are suffering without roads, electricity, water and other basic necessities?”
For one thing, FCFA 2 billion is half of the very tiny budget allocated to the Ministry of Communication in the 2018 national budget. Critics are already chiding Government for misplaced priorities.
The situation is akin to that of the moribund Economic and Social Council that gulps FCFA 2 billion every year, even though only four of its 30 members are still alive.
Statistics indicate that almost 40 percent of the State budget usually gets into private pockets through the over-billing of contracts. One of the scandals that animated the Mounchipou Affair that cropped up in 1999 was that a contract to fell a small tree in front of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications was awarded to somebody for FCFA 10 million. Many such shady deals that border on the embezzlement of public funds abound.
Eventhough, the building is being repaired, the current President of the Senate, Marcel Niat Njifenji, can only enjoy its comfort if President Biya reappoints him next year. Niat is one of the 30 Senators that President Paul Biya appointed in 2013. Since then, he has been living in his personal house at the Nlonkak neighbourhood in Yaounde.
The Post Newspaper