An in-depth BusinessDay investigation shows that some of the projects listed by the Federal Government as ‘ongoing’ in the South-East region of Nigeria were either completed before the advent of the present administration or are not going on at the moment.
On August 24 2018, Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s information minister, responded to a public statement made by South-East governors that their region had been short-changed in the implementation of infrastructural projects.
“While this claim may have made headlines, it is totally untrue. His excellences’ were either misquoted or they were quoted out of context. Either way, this allegation flies in the face of available evidence,’’ Mohammed said in Ilorin, Kwara State, capital, at a lecture.
Three days later, Mohammed released a list containing 69 ‘ongoing’ projects in the region, which often alleges marginalisation.
“Though the contracts for many of the roads were awarded before the advent of this administration, they were either poorly funded or not funded at all, hence work on the roads has lingered,” Mohammed said.
He said the 69 roads and bridges, spread across the five states in the South-East Nigeria, were now at different stages of completion, thanks to the funding sourced by the present Muhammadu Buhari administration from budgetary allocations, the Sukuk Bond and the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund.
BusinessDay decided to fact-check these claims to ascertain their veracity or otherwise. We noticed that out of the 69 projects on the list released by the Federal Government, 20 are tagged as ‘construction’ while the rest are designated as ‘rehabilitation’.
BusinessDay investigated those classified as ‘construction’ but found inconsistencies in the Federal Government’s claims.
Only seven out of the 20, are currently ongoing.
One is Nkporo-Abiriba-Ohafia, which was awarded in May 2012, but was abandoned by the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan. Though BusinessDay classified this N2.739 billion project as ‘ongoing’, work on this road is in fits and starts now, forcing villagers to ask if the government has indeed mobilised Dutum Construction Nigeria Limited or if the contractor is just slow. The second one classified as ‘ongoing’ from our findings is the Abriba-Arochukwu-Ohafia Road in Abia State, awarded by the immediate past government on December 13, 2012, at N2.265 billion. Sections of this road, handled by Beks Kimse Nigeria Limited, are still bad.
BusinessDay was told that the Senator representing the zone, Mao Ohuabunwa, facilitated some level of rehabilitation of this road in March this year, making it a bit motorable. But as of the second week of September when our correspondent visited this road, the road looked decrepit.
Next is the Ohafia-Oso Road, which is between Abia and Ebonyi states’ border. Work on this road, though ongoing, is in fits and starts.
The N979.889 million Omor-Umulokpa Road, which borders Anambra and Enugu states, is going on, just as Nnenwe-Uduma-Uburu Road.
Similarly, construction of Nenwe-Nomeh-Mburubu-Nara Road with spur to Obeagu Oduma Road in Enugu State is going on and is handled by Arab Contractors OAO Nigeria Limited.
Also, Ugwueme-Nenwenta-Nkwe-Ezere-Awgunta-Obeagu-Mgbidi Nmaku Road Project Enugu State is ongoing, according to BusinessDay findings. True to Lai Mohammed’s words, it was observed that some of the projects are being funded with Sukuk Fund.
But this is just all, as four of the listed projects had been completed before Muhammadu Buhari came to power on May 29, 2015.
First is the Olokoro-Isiala-Oboro-Nnono Junction awarded on December 21, 2010, to Abia Bok Company at N515.315 million. This road was completed before Buhari came to power, according to our findings. Sections of this road require repair but no work is going on at the moment.
Second is the Ahiakwu-Amangwo-Umuahia-Ngwa-Ngwa Road, awarded on December 23, 2010, contracted to La Ann Engineering Nig Ltd for N589.554 million. It was also found that this road was completed before May 2015 when the current government came to power. No work is going on there today.
Another one completed by the immediate past administration but listed as ‘ongoing’ by Lai Mohammed is the Olokoro-Alaukwu-Itaja-Okwu-Obuohia-Ikwuano, awarded on March 10, 2010, to Rhas Nigeria Limited for N990.673 million.
Last is the Mbaise-Ngwa Road with Bridge at Imo River, Phase I in Imo/Abia states. This road (including the bridge) was completed in 2014 and is in good shape.
We classified eight out of these 20 roads as ‘not ongoing’ because they are uncompleted and no work was going on around them as of September 15.
The following roads fall into this category: Road in Isseke Town-Amafuo-Ulli with Spur (Ihiala-Orlu-Umuduru Section) in Anambra State; Ikemba Drive Spur on Oba-Okigwe Road Through Permanent Site of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Anambra State; Umulungbe-Umuoka-Amokwu Ikedimkpe Egede-Ojieyi Awhum Road; Construction of Oji-Achi-Mmaku-Awgu Road With Spur To Obeagu-Ugbo in Enugu State; and Ogrute-Umuida-Unadu-Akpanya-Odoru Road in Enugu/Kogi.
Others are: Construction of Aguobu-Owa-Mgbagbu Owa-Ebenebe (Anambra State Border) with Spur to Awaha-Oyoha-Oyofo-Iwollo Road in Enugu; Umuna-Ndiagu-Agba Umuna-Ebenebe-Amasi Awka Express Road with Spur from Umuna – Ndiagu (Agba-Ebenebe) Section I in Enugu State; Ikot Ekpene Border-Aba-Owerri Dualisation Road, Section I, Phase I (11.26Km from Owerri End) in Akwa Ibom/Abia/Imo States.
Of particular interest is a project listed as ‘construction of Oseakwa Bridge in Anambra State, C/No. 6043’. This project was awarded on October 6, 2009, to Horizon Construction Co. Ltd at a cost of N896.863 million. BusinessDay can confirm with pictures and videos that the location called ‘Oseakwa Bridge’, is not technically a bridge.
The Cambridge Dictionary (online) defines a bridge as a structure that is built over a river, road, or railway to allow people and vehicles to cross from one side to the other’. Road leading to the so-called ‘Oseakwa Bridge’ in Ihiala is not tarred and the road extending from it is decrepit and is not passed by vehicles.