By Joseph Mutah
On 23rd October, 2012, The National Good Governance Tour team was in Plateau State in continuation of the inspection of completed and ongoing projects across the country.The team, which was led by the Honourable Minister of Information Mr. Labaran Maku, comprised the media and civil society organisations.
Various state and federal government projects were inspected in the course of the assignment, which exposed the team to the efforts being made to develop the country, as well as the challenges in implementing the projects.
For instance, the team inspected the reconstruction of Vom-Manchok Road in Plateau State, which was completed and handed over to the Federal Government in January, 2012.
The 43.2 kilometre road, which was reconstructed at a cost of over N 3.9 Billion, provides an alternate route from Jos to Kaduna. The scope of work included the 30 meters of rock excavation, drainage structures consisting of 4 bridges, pipes and box culverts and lined drains.
The road has since been opened to motorists who are taking advantage of it to transport goods and services with ease.
However, this could not be said of the Panyam-Bokkos-Wamba road which was envisaged to provide the shortest route from Plateau State to Abuja through Wamba in Nasarawa State. Furthermore, this road will provide opportunity for farmers to transport their produce to the market, especially with the knowledge that Bokkos is a hub of potato farming.
The contract was awarded to Stateco Nigeria Limited on 25th April, 2007 with a completion date of 24th April, 2009. The construction of the 50 Kilometre road was awarded at a cost of over N5 Billion.
The sum of N1,271,000,221.64 was collected as advance payment by the contractor who also requested and secured the extension of the completion period twice. The new completion date was 31st July 2011. However at the time the National Good Governance Tour Team visited the project, which was about 66 months when the contract was awarded, the project was at 37.11% completion stage.
In an attempt to mislead the team, the contractor did what could best be described as a window dressing in Bokkos and hurriedly deployed some equipment to site in Panyam. But the Information Minister Mr. Labaran Maku insisted on inspecting a sizeable portion of the road beyond Bokkos and to the consternation of the team, the contractor was not even on site while little or almost nothing was being done to deliver on the project.
The Minister of State for Works, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda who accompanied the team said “when the contractor heard that we are coming here today, he chose to be away and the only thing we saw here was a crusher”. He continued “This is not acceptable to us in the Federal Ministry of Works and I assure you Honourable Minister in the next two weeks, I can be able to face the press and tell them the decisive action that we have taken as a ministry”.
In keeping with the promise, Ambassador Yuguda was at the Radio House, Abuja on 9th November, 2012 to announce to the world the “decisive action” taken by the Federal Ministry of Works on the Panyam-Bokkos-Wamba Road, which many on the National Good Governance Tour Team described as non-performing contract.
He said having explored all the clauses in the Contract Agreement especially Clause 43, which was violated because “no significant progress was made to satisfy the engineer of the contractor’s ability to successfully realise the project,” the Federal Government had no option than to terminate the contract “in line with the objectives of the National good Governance Tour and in accordance with Clause 63 of the Standard Conditions of Contract 1999.”
The contractor has since been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) while steps have been taken to recover the advance payment of N1.2 made to the contractor.
In the same vein, following the discovery of non-performance during the inspection of the rehabilitation of Agaie-Katcha-Baro Road in Niger State, the N1.6 billion contract awarded to Impresit Bakolori was revoked by the Federal Ministry of Works.
The road project was awarded on 3rd December, 2009 with a completion of 9 months while the sum of N242,122,836.97 was paid to the contractor as advance payment. However with about 34 months on the project in addition to the extension period granted for the completion period coupled with the service of letter of warning and notice of termination of the contract, no significant progress was recorded when the Team visited the project – a development that necessitated the termination of the contract.
The action taken on the projects so far has reinforced the confidence of the people in the National Good Governance Tour that it is not out to whitewash but to cause positive action to be taken in order to ensure accountability, transparency and value for money being spent on projects execution.
The Information Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku re-echoed this by saying “indeed the National Good Governance Tour was approved by Mr. President and all the 36 Governors to enable government at different levels to really monitor key projects that are being executed by the Federal, State and Local Governments”.
He said the tour is an assessment of work in progress because it is unlikely to expect that in two years, governors and the President will deliver on all their promises.
Mr. Maku added that the tour is one of the steps to verify what is happening at the various project sites in order to report back to Nigerians the true position of things and not to engage in propaganda.
This is his opinion will go a long way to instill people’s confidence in the democratic system.
JOSEPH MUTAH WRITES FROM ABUJA