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MoD wasting billions with ‘broken’ procurement system, MPs warn


MoD wasting billions with ‘broken’ procurement system, MPs warn

The Ministry of Defence’s MoD system of procurement is “broken” and is repeatedly wasting billions in taxpayers’ money, according to a scathing assessment by a watchdog committee of MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that the oversight in the department was so poor that it was unable to spell out what additional capability the country will get from an extra £16.5bn which was allocated by Boris Johnson last year.

Of the current 20 largest projects, 13 were running behind, by a cumulative total of 21 years – including the £4bn-plus Ajax armoured vehicle, delayed due to excessive noise and vibration. There is “no timescale” when it will be ready for service.

No firm figure was put on the amount of money lost, but the MPs said there had been “wastage of taxpayers’ money running into the billions” and that the MoD at times “lacks the skilled personnel” to manage its suppliers. “The department’s system for delivering major equipment capabilities is broken,” the committee added.

Dame Meg Hillier, the Labour chair of the committee, said: “This committee is determined that this state of affairs cannot, and will not, continue” – and demanded that the Treasury conduct an emergency review of MoD project management.

The senior MP said that PAC members feared that “last year’s lauded and substantial uplift” of £16.5bn over four years would “simply be used to plug financial holes across its programmes” because the MoD could not give assurances to the contrary.

The prime minister announced the extra capital spending nearly a year ago, promising it would lead to “a once-in-a-generation modernisation of our armed forces” – including the introduction of laser weapons.

But at the time the MoD also faced a £13bn shortfall in its equipment budget, stemming from historic overspending, which had forced it to reduce the numbers of new Challenger 3 tanks, P-8 submarine hunting maritime patrol aircraft and Type 26 frigates.

A total of £4bn had already been spent on the heavily delayed Ajax out of “whole life costs of £5.5bn,” the committee noted, yet only 14 vehicles – 2% of the total requirement – had been delivered by contractor General Dynamics for testing.

One year ago, the MoD thought Ajax would initially enter service in the summer of 2021 – but this date was not met and the issues over vibration and noise are so serious that 310 service personnel were undergoing tests to see if their hearing had been permanently damaged.

The noise and vibration problems dated back to December 2018 but the MPs voiced concern that the MoD was still in the dark about the cause. “Despite the length of time the department has known about this issue, there is still no definitive information on the source of the noise and vibration,” the PAC said.

Eight programmes were rated either “amber/red or red” by senior officials responsible for delivering them on a traffic light scheme used across government for rating the progress of major procurement projects.

Of broader concern, the PAC said, was the MoD’s apparent inability to learn from its mistakes despite 13 formal reviews of defence procurement over 35 years.

“We were therefore shocked to learn that the department had only established a central register of learning from experience (LFE) in December 2020,” the MPs added. “Experience shows that there is a need for reflection and openness earlier in the process to avoid further catastrophes like Ajax.”

The MoD frequently cited the complexity of the programmes to explain why they had fallen behind, but sceptical MPs said this was not the case. Such arguments aimed to “excuse the fact” that the MoD and its suppliers “failed to produce more realistic costings and schedules”, the committee concluded.

An MoD spokesperson said: “This report reflects the complex challenges of delivering defence capability for our armed forces, but also the commitment and professionalism required to keep our people and the UK’s interests safe, by purchasing world-class equipment such as Lightning II stealth fighter jets, and the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers.”

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Chief Of Defence Staff Says Military Under Pressure To Compromise 2023 Polls

The Nigerian military on Thursday revealed that despite the fact that it is facing constant pressure to compromise the 2023 elections, it will continue to be neutral.

General Lucky Irabor,  Chief of Defence Staff disclosed this to journalists at the 61st session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

According the him, military personnel face pressure through inducements, but the armed forces would remain apolitical as it is taking the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the directive of the President Muhammadu Buhari  to maintain neutrality.

Irabor added that personnel are being trained to be more professional even as the rules of engagement have been codified for distribution before, during and after the elections.

The CDS also revealed that several military rescue operations and negotiations have led to the freeing of at least 300,000 people from the hands of their abductors since 2014 while refugees who fled the North-East due to insurgency, have started to return.

He said that former insurgents, now being trained, would graduate in February next year before their reintegration into the society. He added that the military is recruiting more personnel into all branches of the security services.

The goal, Irabor said, is to increase the number of on-the-ground personnel to combat insurgency and banditry and curtail oil theft which will eventually lead to increased crude oil production.

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ICPC Arraigns NSCDC Official Over N12m job Scam

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned a Superintendent of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Solomon Ogodo, over allegations bordering on forgery, employment racketeering, and fraud.

ICPC, in charge no: CR/503/2022 brought before Justice M.S. Idris of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, sitting in Jabi, Abuja, accused the defendant of defrauding unsuspecting job seekers the N12.2 million.

In the five-count charge, the commission told the court that the accused person on different occasions hoodwinked members of the public into parting with different sums of money in the guise of securing employment for their relatives in the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCoS).

The court was further informed of how Mr. Ogodo, with the intent to commit fraud, forged offers of provisional appointments for some applicants into the Nigeria Correctional Services.

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Okonjo Iweala Makes Forbes List Of World’s Most Powerful Women

A former Nigerian minister of finance and current Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been named one of Forbes’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2022.

Forbes, an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family, has a particular focus on business, technology, communications, science, politics, and law.

The African leadership person of the year awards are vote-based and reserved yearly for leading Africans who are making positive impacts and promoting a favourable image of the continent.

Okonjo-Iweala polled over 60 percent of the 15,000 votes in the category at the close of the poll on 2nd of December 2022.

Forbes said, “The World Trade Organization head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (No. 91 of 100) continue to play a crucial role in providing financial assistance and promoting global trade as the threat of a global recession rises.”

Recall that Okonjo-Iweala was recognized by another media platform, Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people in 2021.

This would be Okonjo-Iweala’s 6th recognition in her career.

Okonjo-iweala reacted on Twitter, saying that she was excited by the awards she had received in her career.

“An honour and a privilege to be part of this list of a very distinguished group of women for the 6th time in my career, Congratulations to my other sisters. Let’s continue to show that good governance, good public policy and a people-centered approach to work matters,” he said.

Winners for the 11th edition of the award shall be presented with the honour on 16th of February 2023, at a ceremony scheduled to be held in Port Louis, Mauritius.

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