The minister made the revelation when the Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation visited him for oversight function in Abuja on Thursday.
He insisted that the contract for the construction of the government press was first awarded in 2001 and several aspects had been awarded over again without completing the project.
Mohammed said about three meetings had been held with the contractors this year and nobody had been able to come up with neither the exact contractual amount involved nor the contract papers.
“Neither the ministry officials nor contractors can locate the contract papers. This is what has stalled work. However, it has now been confirmed that we don’t owe any of the contractors.
So, we have re-advertised the contract,” he further explained. Speaking on the procurement law, the minister said, “Please look favourably to our 2017 budget. We are supposed to disseminate the policies and programmes of the government. We need you to cure the inadequacies of the 2016 budget.
“The laws we have today will not allow us to perform as efficiently as possible. The law of procurement is burdensome and needs to be amended.
“You are required to advertise for at least six weeks. A minimum of two months are required before bids can be opened. If we continue to follow this, we will continue to underperform. “There should be due process, accountability and transparency but speed and efficiency should not be sacrificed on the altar of bureaucracy.”
In his response, a member of the senate committee, Senator Dino Melaye, described the government press as a massive fraud going by the probe conducted by the House of Representatives when he was Chairman, House Committee on Information and National Orientation.
Melaye said when the probe was done in 2009; it was found that landscaping on the property, for example, was awarded for tens of millions of Naira, paid for and not executed until the probe. He said it was not until the probe started that the contractor mobilised to site.
He also cited another incident of equipment awarded and paid for in 2003 but when the contractor was summoned in 2009, he said the equipment was on the high sea. “That project was a fraud. The contracts should be revisited. Every contract should be revoked or ordered to be executed within a reasonable time,” he added.
Melaye, however, promised to make the contract papers available to the minister, adding that the House of Representatives obtained them when the project was probed.
Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Suleiman Adokwe, promised to give the minister and the ministry a breathing space for the execution of capital projects since the implementation period would last till May 2017.