•Untold story of contract awards in South East
Story & pictures by Henry Umahi [email protected]
For the Ifeanyi Nweke family living at Nkpor, in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, May 25, 2016 was like any other day. They woke up, did their morning activities and set out to their various places of endeavour. But in the afternoon, the tale began to twist.
Said Nweke: “I was at work, as commercial motorcycle operator, when my phone rang and I was told to come to my wife’s shop (hairdressing salon), that there was an emergency.”
Nweke rushed to his wife’s shop and got the shock of his life: His wife, who was in the last days of her pregnancy, had been swept away by a rampaging flood. When she was found near Eke Nkpor, the 29-year-old woman was dead, leaving behind two little children.
South East: In the eye of a storm
The Nkpor tragedy, as it were, is not a rare incident. In fact, flood and erosion pose a serious threat to life and property in the South-eastern Nigeria. It is unarguably the most ecologically challenged part of the country, particularly soil/gully erosion. Investigation revealed that there are over 2, 000 active erosion sites in the South-east and uncountable ordinary ones. New ones are also emerging with the speed of competition. Over the years, the region had witnessed devastation of astounding proportion, as erosion continues to spread like wildfire across the five states that make up the zone.
A report succinctly captured it thus: “Erosion has opened the earth, creating bottomless pits. Looking like deep seas without water; the sheer sizes and depths are frightening. Standing on the plain and looking into the gulfs, your head spins like there is an invisible force trying to pull you in. There are signs of freshly consumed earth and trees, signs that the gullies are expanding. And there are also visible marks on the ground, showing portions about to be swallowed.”
While Anambra State could be described as the erosion capital, Imo State has also been buffeted by a wave of erosion. According to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra, there are 972 active erosion sites in the state. This means that the landmass of the state is shrinking steadily, leading to loss of means of livelihood and threat to human existence itself.
Dr. Philip Njemanze, human rights activist and writer, summed up the Imo State situation when he declared: “Erosion is a major problem in Imo State. It’s a problem that has never been addressed. And it is a problem that is beyond even the state in terms of capacity to resolve.”
The rampaging menace of erosion has destroyed landmarks, ancestral burial sites, economic trees, farmlands and homesteads. During rainy season, lives are lost, as ferocious flood surges through communities. It has also made accessibility to some communities very difficult because their roads and bridges have been washed away.
Does it mean that the Federal Government of Nigeria has turned a blind eye to the ecological problems in the South-east and other parts of the country? No. The Federal Government had established the ecological fund to tackle ecological problems in the country. According to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), “it should be noted that the actual fund transferred to the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government Ecological Fund Account for execution of ecological project from 2007 to 2011 was N56, 910, 600, 873. This fund was established as an intervention facility to address serious ecological problems across the country. However, our audit revealed that disbursements were made to beneficiaries outside the purpose of setting up the fund.”
A recent report by ICIR noted: “Investigations across the country show that the funds released for projects are characterised by mismanagement, diversion of funds, substandard and abandoned projects fully paid for while the threats of ecological problems continue to wreak havoc, sometimes taking lives.
“In many cases, projects costing billions of naira were certified by government engineers and other officials when, as investigations showed, the projects had either been abandoned or left uncompleted. Yet, money had been paid to the contractor, indicating a possible collusion between greedy and unpatriotic officials and contractors.”
The report added: “So unmindful was the government of the essence of setting aside funds to deal with ecological problems that the state even borrowed money from the Ecological Funds Office to finance shortfalls in its appropriation. Between 2009 and 2011, the Federal Government withdrew about N94 billion from the N141.5 billon that accrued to the Fund to finance its budget deficit.”
Process and procedure of EFO
First, ecological problems in the state are brought to the notice of the Ecological Fund Office, which forwards such problems to the National Committee on Ecological problems. The approval to fund such projects is sent to the president, who, in turn, sends his approval back to EFO. This approval is forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Finance, which equally attaches a covering letter and then forwards the approval to the Accountant-General of the Federation to release funds into the SGF/EF account.
Thereafter, EFO writes to ministries that are directly related to projects to be undertaken, which ensure that the procedures and selection processes guiding procurement are in line with due process. The Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and River Basin Development Authorities and all part of the executing agencies.
When the executing agencies appoint contractor, the EFO gives the award letter and ensures that other contract documents are signed. Also, the executing agency appoints consultants to do the design as well as supervise the execution of the projects. A resident engineer, who will ensure that the project is carried according to design, is also appointed. And for every stage of work achieved, the executing agencies issue the Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) to which the consultant also endorses and forwards to the EFO. The EFO also sends some of its officials to visit the site before payment is eventually made. At every level of IPC raised, payment is made after necessary procedures have been followed.
It is also important to note that there are times when state governments directly request from the president, funds to finance some ecological problems in their states, thereby boycotting the Ecological Fund Office. Such funds are disbursed directly to them in form of grants and loans.
Gallery of contracts
Investigations carried out with the support of Ford Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Abuja, revealed that the fund had not been properly applied, particularly in the South-east. Recently, Daily Sun toured erosion control sites in the South-east and made some startling discoveries. In many instances, projects executed in the name of flood chanelisation and land reclamation are scandalous in every material particular. The execution of the jobs was shoddy. In some cases, drainages that do not terminate properly were constructed. The result is that while trying to solve one problem, a bigger one was created, as erosion develops where water from the drainages is discharged.
Investigation also revealed that in some cases, contracts for a certain project were awarded to two contractors at different amounts.
A case-by-case report of the erosion contracts, in the South-east states, is as stunning as it is controversial.
The erosion contract story in Abia
Over the years, Amaudo Ntalakwu, in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, has suffered serious neglect. First, the road leading to the community, a federal facility, is in terrible condition, even as the community lacks social amenities. It is a Herculean task getting a vehicle to take people to the community because of the condition of the road. At best, you board a commercial motorcycle, while praying fervently for safe arrival because you could end up in the ditches created by erosion.
In 2005, the Federal Government remembered the forgotten community by way of awarding a contract for erosion control at Amaudo (Bende-Ntalakwu). A document from Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government Ecological Fund showed that AIRBDA is the executing agency, while Glem Consult was the consultant. Ometra Construction Engr. Nig Ltd. was awarded the contract on September 23, 2005 and expected date of completion was May 2008.
Available records showed that N329, 286, 327.76 was paid out of the total contract sum of N354, 712, 941.62. The project was listed as100 per cent completed.
Daily Sun reporter was at the area on May 1, and June 23, 2016 and discovered that the completion of the project is a subject of controversy. The contractors even abandoned one of their earth moving machines and an SUV at site. While there were small shallow water channels in parts of Ntalakwu, there is no evidence that it got to Amaudo. Even the small shallow water channels have been covered by bushes.
According to His Royal Majesty, Eze Chima Ndom, Onyirimba nke Itumbauzo ancient kingdom, “they came to control erosion but they didn’t do it right. Up till now, the place is still ravaged by erosion. In a nutshell, they have not controlled the erosion; it is still in that state. That’s it.”
Also commenting on the erosion control project, Mr. Abraham Adiseyen from Ndiwo Itumbauzo said that it fell short of the expectation of the people. Furiously angry, he said: “I was in the village when the construction started. The contractor did the Ndiwo-Itumbauzo Channel 1 and proceeded to Ntalakwu Channel 2, where they worked a little before they left. They constructed a small road and erosion control at Ndiwo-Itumbauzo. They stayed more than five years in our village. The work they did is nothing to write home about. They did nothing at Amaudo 1 and Amaudo 2.”
But there was an area the workers did not fare badly. The construction worker did other jobs, which left their indelible marks. According to Adiseyen, “the workers impregnated many of our girls. Those girls have been delivered of babies whose fathers cannot be traced. I can show you some of the girls if you want to see them. But I do not blame the workers; I blame our girls.”
Another indigene, Ephraim Sistus, said that the community was so angry about the “job done that the indigenes will not spare the construction workers if they have to come to site now. In the name of building a road, they completely damaged our road because the nonsense they did collapsed after a few weeks. When you talk about erosion control, that is something else. These things are there for everyone to see. You should come and see things for yourself when it rains. They just dug small gutters here and there,” Sistus said.
The story is, however, different at Nkporo, in Ohafia LGA. The reporter was in Nkporo on May 1, 2016 and this is what a community leader in Okwoko Nkporo, Prince Egwuonwu Agwu Onuoha (aka Owusu, told him: “Before the erosion control measure, anytime it rained, everywhere would be flooded. It was a difficult phase; whenever the weather changed and rain was in the offing, everybody used to panic and prayed that the effect would not be too bad.”
But the cheery news is that the era of erosion menace is over in the area. Prince Onuoha further said: “The erosion control was done well. And since the Federal Government did it, it has been serving the purpose and we are happy about it. Although there is another erosion site outside our village called Iyimana, the control effort is okay. Before the intervention or control measure, it used to be hell for us any time it rained. Then everywhere would be flooded and some people would run away from their homes and sought refuge elsewhere. In fact, many houses had been pulled down by erosion in the community. So, we are appealing to government to help us rebuild the houses destroyed by erosion because some of the victims don’t have wherewithal to rebuild their homes.”
It was gathered that while Messrs Itecon Partnership was the consultant, Dubintech Nigeria Limited did the contract at the sum of N30, 792, 108.39. Awarded on June 16, 2005, May 2006 was the expected date of completion. Current status, as listed in Ecology Fund Office, is 100 per cent. The executing agency was AIRBDA.
In March 2009, M/S Safaar International Ltd. was awarded the contract to execute flood and erosion control measures at Umunnekwu Agbor, in Isuikwuato LGA of Abia State at the cost of N279, 211, 297.70. The contract was expected to be completed in September 2010. According to EFO, the current status of the project is 100 per cent and contract sum paid in full. But when the reporter visited the community on April 30, 2016, work was still ongoing. Even at that, the indigenes said that though erosion had reduced in the area, the problem is not totally solved.
“Any time there is a heavy downpour, the flood will overflow the gutter they built. The gutter is small in size and not deep enough to take large quality of flood,” explained petite Susan Okezie, a student of Federal University of Nigeria, Agubia Ikwo (FUNAI), Ebonyi State.
The reporter also observed that sand had covered a greater part of the channel in some areas.
In September 2011, a contract was awarded to Clem & Smith International for gully erosion control at the Abia State University (ABSU) at N324, 719, 125.50. FME was the executing agency, while M/S Ladicon Partner was the consultant. Whereas the expected date of completion was June 2012, the contract sum had been paid fully. The status of the project is 100 per cent completed. However, when the reporter went to ABSU to assess the value of work done, an overzealous security man at the gate refused him taking pictures. He insisted that the reporter must obtain a letter from the Office of the Vice Chancellor. However, the bulky security man admitted that erosion is ravaging the school.
On November 16, 2005, contract was awarded to Neon Skygate Nigeria Limited for erosion/flood control at Mgbarakuma-Nsiri-Ntigha. The project was due for completion in March 2007. AIRBDA was the executing agency, while Messrs Bambo Research Development Engineers was the consultant. It was gathered that the contract sum of N217, 306, 116.50 has been paid in full to the contractor and project declared completed.
On May 1, 2016, the reporter visited the area for on-the-spot assessment of the project. In summary, it was a case of the good, the bad and the ugly. According to Mrs. Uloma Nwokocha from Umuofeke-Mgbarakuma: “The erosion control has helped us so much. It has helped us so much because we live at the end of the road and whenever we wanted to go to market at Apumiri during the rainy season, we would lift up our dresses or wrappers and wade through the flood. It used to be the same thing when coming back. Young men wearing shoes used to remove their shoes. But since the gutters were constructed, people now dress as they want while going to the market or anywhere. It has made movement so easy for us, whether you are trekking or driving a car. So, we are grateful to government for remembering us by controlling the erosion here.”
Nwokocha further said: “But one regrettable thing is that the project was not completed and the road has started developing potholes. So, we are wondering why they remembered us but abandoned us half-way. It would have been wonderful if they had completed the work. When they were constructing the gutter, they said that they would dig a pit where the flood will run into. They picked a site for the pit and the owner of the land agreed to surrender it, but it appears that he gave them a price they refused. So, the disadvantage is that flood goes in and destroys farms around there. There is no particular place the flood is channeled into. If you plant something like cassava, it would have rotten, owing to flooding by the time you go to harvest them. In most cases, everything planted will be washed away. That’s our dilemma now.”
The Nsiri-Ntigha axis could at best be described as half-measure. Small gutters were dug here and there. Asked about the impact of the project, an angry resident, who identified himself simply as Jonah, told the reporter: “You can see things for yourself. They just deceived themselves, in the name of controlling the erosion. It will be better for you to come when it is raining and see things for yourself.”
Ubakala Street, Umuahia
On May 3, 2006, contract for gully erosion control at Ubakala Street, Umuahia metropolis, was awarded to Du-Lumac Ltd. at N219, 452, 483.25, though the president approved N244, 197, 406.00 for the job. The job was expected to be completed in October 2007 and the contractor was fully paid N219, 452,482.90. The AIRBDA was the executing agency, but there are no available records concerning the consultant to the project.
Ten years after the contract was awarded, on May 1, 2016 to be precise, the reporter went to the project site and saw a clean street with gutters. According to the residents, the project is considerably controlling the menace that had made life difficult for them. Relics of the menace are still there.
Isingwu & Igwuegbu, Umuahia & Ugwegbe Riam
The Isingwu & Igwuegbu, Umuahia & Ugwegbe Riam erosion control works contract was awarded to Umez Engineering Construction Limited on November 26, 2008 and it was expected to be completed in January 2009. AIRBDA was the executing agency, while Glem was the consultant. Amount approved by the president was N315, 315, 892.00, while the contract amount was N243, 588,491.06. The contract sum had been paid and job certified completed. When the reporter toured the site on May 1, 2006. Verdict: The problem has not been totally solved.
Pepple Aguwa and Akpu Road
Contract for the Pepple Aguwa and Akpu Road gully erosion control works was awarded to Bill Joe + Berger in September 2011 and it was expected to be completed in August 2012. The consultant was M/S Rohi Consultants, while FME was the executing agency. The president approved N933, 977, 744.65 and the contract sum was the same amount. However, N884, 855, 103.95 had been paid to the contractor and the contract was certified completed.
A recent visit to the area showed that the project has not been fully completed, although the erosion problem has reduced considerably. The area had been ravaged by erosion for decades before help finally came not long ago. But it is not yet Uhuru for the residents. Offering insight into the issue, a community leader, Chief Emmanuel, said: “The erosion at both Aguwa Street and Akpu/Pepples Road started in 1990 and we made several efforts to alert bodies concerned, which, although, came a little bit late, for the erosion to be controlled. Nothing was heard over the period from any quarter until 2010. After 20 years of fear and uncertainty, that some people came from the Ecological Fund office together with some officials from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency under the Presidency”.
He disclosed that it was two years after the visit by government officials before the project eventually commenced. “In January 2012, one Tunde Ojo of Billy Joe Construction Company came with another man, John Ezenwa, who was said to be the consultant to the project, after touring the sites, they started preliminary work,” he explained.
It was gathered that the job was abandoned after six months, thereby subjecting the residents to untold hardship. So, the residents petitioned the Ecological Fund office in Abuja, telling them the job had been abandoned. He added: “By November 2012, the Ecological Fund people visited the sites to see things for themselves and having been satisfied the job was actually abandoned, went back and by January 2013, they gave the job to one Ayo said to be the rightful owner of Billy Joe Construction Company.”
A resident, who identified himself simply as Peter, said: “While we appreciate the Federal Government for what they have done, we will also appeal to them to mandate Billy Joe Company to return to site and complete the project, otherwise we will go back to square one.” Already, the roads have started collapsing again.
Development of tree nurseries and raising of seedlings in Abia
Osita Merchantile was awarded contract for the development of tree nurseries and raising of seedlings in Abia State in December 2010 and it was expected to be completed in six months. FMENV was the executing agency, while Global Tree Planters was the consultant. It was gathered that the contract sum of N91, 529, 162.23 had been fully paid and project listed as completed. However, the reporter was not able to locate the project site, as no one knows the place.
The Imo erosion control story
The erosion and flood control measures at Eziudo cannot be described in superlatives. In fact, the project, which the reporter visited on April 4, 2016, leaves so much to be desired. To start with, the water channel, which started from Eziudo Girls High School, is narrow. The water channelisation is not on both sides of the road from the beginning to the end. While it is two-lane from Eziudo Girls High School to Egberemiri market, the same cannot be said of the area to the Umuhu River. The result, in part, is the devastation of the Egberemiri market square.
Investigation revealed that Flab Engineering Services Limited was awarded the contract to tackle erosion and flood at Eziudo on May 16, 2007. The contract was scheduled to be completed in August 2008. Amount approved by the president was N190, 750, 000.00. Meanwhile, the contract amount was N140, 114,169.30, while N139, 526, 051.36 had been paid. AIRBDA is the executing agency and Emifan Services Limited is the consultant. The current status of the project is stated as 100 per cent completed, but the problem is not solved.
During a visit, residents said the days of suffering were not over yet. According to the people, not much has changed, in terms of the impact of the project on the community. Indeed, the community is erosion-ravaged. The Eziala-Umuhu road is ravaged by erosion while the Umunebia/Umuhu link road is cut off.
Rex Ugochukwu Pele Njoku, Aladinma chairman, Umunebia Eziudo and Assistant Secretary, Eziudo Development Union said: “The major problem we are having in the community is erosion. I believe government has tried the much it can, but it is not good for the three autonomous communities joined together. The erosion problem at Ugboli is that there is no river close to them, where the flood can be channeled. So, flood gathers around Eze Mike Abbey’s place and Orie Egbu market square. There is no way out. During the rainy season, these roads are blocked permanently until the next dry season. The Umuhu Road erosion control measure has helped to an extent, but we’ve been having so much problem with erosion, particularly the link road between Eze Ogugua and Eze Okechuku Aduku, and the link road between Eze Ogugua and Eze Mike Abbey as well as some other parts of Eziudo, where we have prominent people. Most times, during the rainy season, our people don’t normally come home because of erosion; we only see them coming home during the dry season. This is why we are pleading with government to come to our assistance.”
Njoku, who is also a former President General, Eziudo Native Kingdom Youths, added: “In fact, erosion has caused so much havoc in the community. Some of the buildings we have here are being disturbed by erosion. Some of the buildings collapse after attack by erosion even as the major roads are flooded during rainy season. During the rainy season, we don’t usually go out; if you are in Owerri or elsewhere, you stay back there. Even farmers find it difficult to go to their farms.”
In the same vein, President General, Eziudo Development Association, Chief (Sir) Larry Osuagwu, said: “The erosion problem in Eziudo can simply be said to be devastating. Down Umuhu, Amakam, Ezikpi, Umuagwu, Umuchekwa and Umunebia villages, destruction of buildings, farmland and property have been recorded in recent past. Our cherished streams – Iyi Amaka and Ezukpi – which were our sources of water for drinking and domestic uses, have dried up. Rubbles from neighbouring towns, like Udo and Umunwanwa in Abia State, have been pushed into these streams by flood. Today, the ordinary man in Eziudo lives at the mercy of a few privileged, who have boreholes, for drinking and domestic water needs. In the past, fishponds thrived at the banks of these streams, but, today all these are history. Erosion has consistently washed farmland away and drastically reduced available land for farming.”
Osuagwu added: “I do not know the name of the company but if it is the one that did the drain from Umuchekwa to Umuhu, it is a good effort, but not anything to rely on for the strength of flood in that route. The drain was not properly terminated; that is why Ezikpi and Amakam villages are in serious trouble today. If urgent action is not taken, a village like Ezikpi might be wiped out in the next five years, as buildings are already facing threat of collapse and being swept away if this year’s rains are not controlled.”
The PG argued, “for any drainage to have positive impact on these villages, the drains must start from Umuezeaku to Amakam through Ezikpi to the stream. One must start from Umunnebia to join Umuhu at Orie and empty into the stream. The other must start from Eziala Obizi through Nwankwo market square to the stream. We need urgent attention, please.”
Amuzi Ahiara Ahiazu Mbaise
It is the same story at Amuzi Ahiara Ahiazu Mbaise. There, people are living at the mercy of flood and erosion. In March 2007, a contract was awarded to Messrs Booman Engineering Co. Ltd. to do erosion control works and it was supposed to be completed in March 2010. The Presidency approved N267, 378, 252.00 for the work. The contract amount was N230, 241, 550.24 and same amount was paid to the contractor. AIRBDA was the executing agency, with Messrs Vibro Engineering Co. Ltd. as consultant. The contract had been certified as 100 per cent completed.
The reporter was there on April 26, 2016 and discovered that the contract was abandoned. Also, there is evidence that the quality of work done there is nothing but poor. It was gathered that whenever it rained there, residents go through hell. Movement becomes a tough task, as flood covers the road, even as homes are affected. For instance, St. Dominic’s Cathedral at Umuokazi is seriously threatened and may be swept away soon.
Mr. Ukachi Gordian Nnaemeka, a native of Umuokazi Amuzi Ahiara Ahiazu Mbaise LGA captured the situation thus: “The erosion control work here was not completed. In fact, it has been abandoned for many months now; we have not seen them. So, whenever it rains, the entire place will be flooded and the erosion will be uncontrollable. You won’t be able to wade through the erosion or drive whenever it rains. The situation is usually terrible. We are the worst hit, so to say, because we live at the end of Amuzi Ugwu and Afajala road.”
At Umuago Urualla gully erosion control (Phase 2), Ideato North LGA, the job is commendable. Though the flood channel constructed to check the erosion is narrow, it serves the purpose to a reasonable extent because of the topography of the area. Whenever it rains, the flood follows the channel and runs down to the river. However, there is a problem. The chanelisation did not get to the river. When the reporter visited the area on April 27, 2016, he saw a sloppy bumpy road that poses a threat to man and machine.
A resident, Mr. Paul Obioha, told the reporter: “To be frank, the erosion control effort is a welcome development because whenever it rains, the flood runs through the gutter they constructed. But the problem is that the gutter did not get to the river. So, whenever it rains, the flood will take over the road leading to the river and mess up everywhere. And when that happens, those who have farms around there will not be able to go and harvest their crops.”
In the same vein, a security man in Umuokwanwa village, in Umuago Ndida, who identified himself simply as Austin, volunteered: “The erosion control project has helped us so much. Otherwise, many of us would have been rendered homeless. In fact, before the intervention, many houses were swallowed by erosion. However, it created another problem because it destroyed the road to the farmland. So, we are appealing to government to complete the good work it had started.”
The contract was awarded to Niccotonia Nigeria Limited on August 17, 2005 and it was expected to be completed in April 2007. The amount approved by the president was N535, 000, 000.00; the contract amount was N204,617,026.78 and the contractor was paid same. AIRBDA was the executing agency, while Summerville Concepts Limited was the consultant.
According to official records, the project had been fully completed, yet the residents cannot access their farmlands. But the inevitable question is: why did the amount approved by the president differ massively from the contract amount?
The people of Amaifeke in Orlu heaved a sigh of relief when they learnt in 2006 that a contract had been awarded for erosion control measures in their community. For many years, erosion had been a major problem to them, so when the contract was awarded to wipe away their sorrow, they sang halleluyah. But their joy was short-lived. The water channel could hardly hold a handful of water, so to say.
Pa Herbert Adinnu, a village chief from Ofeahia-Amaifeke told the reporter when he visited on April 27, 2016: “When they were building the gutters, we told them that they were too small because of the volume of flood that comes whenever it rains. Peoples’ compounds are always flooded when it rains; even farms are being destroyed by the flood because the gutters are small. We thought that the project would be executed in a way that the problem of flood will be solved permanently, but that is not the case here. We are just managing the situation, but, in fairness, it is better than it was because the intervention. So, we are appealing to government to expand the gutters so that peoples’ home’s and farms will not be flooded again.”
It was learnt that that the contract for the control of erosion at Umuola-Amaifeke was awarded to Du-Lumac Limited on February 1, 2006 and it was expected to be completed in August 2007. The president approved N287, 676, 000.00 for the project. The contract sum was N258,601,650.00 and the contractor was paid same amount. Officially, the project is 100 per cent completed; yet the people are still lamenting. AIRBD was the executing agency.
The contract for erosion control at Orlu township was awarded to Praises Limited on September 27, 2006 and the project was expected to be completed in February 2008. The president approved N227, 320,000.00 for the job while the contract amount was N225, 120, 500.00. AIRBDA was the executing agency. Records show that the job has been 100 per cent completed.
The reporter was in Orlu on April 27, 2016 and saw a town ravaged by erosion. The water channel was filled with sand and filth. In fact, according to residents, the situation is getting worse. Many houses have gone under and some lives have also been lost.
Hon. Nnamdi Cos-Ukwuoma said: “The measures so far taken by both federal and state governments to channel the menacing flood that has created gullies of unimaginable depths in adjoining communities can be frankly described as something terribly less than half measure. They have even worsened or compounded the problem as it were.
”The flood problem dates back to early 1980s when the first major flood disaster occurred and swept away food and cash crops, submerged residential houses, schools and church buildings. Public institutions presently under threat of erosion and flooding are St. Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral Church, Umuna, Orie Ugwu Umuna, Imo International Market Umuna, Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Nkwo Market Alaoma Owerre-Ebeiri, etc.”
Barr. Hyacinth Mbachu, former Sole Administrator of Orlu Local Government, added his voice, saying that the menacing erosion in Umuna has been a subject of politics since 1984. According to him, “the only reasonable palliative measure was recorded in 2012 when the present governor of Imo State gave out contract to create channel for the flood to percolate around the vicinity of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Umuna. This control measure worsened the problem as those living around St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and adjoining villages have faced real threat to their lives and properties.”
Mr. Fidel Nganwuchu, a native of Uzoubi Umuna, recalled that over 200 families have been sacked from their ancestral homes and have become tenants in their own land. He recounted with apparent grief that some of their kinsmen, including one Lambert Onyeanuforo, a three – year old boy, have lost their lives to the merciless flood.
Amakohia Ekeonumiri and Umusheville Owalla Avuvu
M/S Safaar International Limited was awarded the contract for Amakohia Ekeonumiri and Umusheville Owalla Avuvu, Ikeduru erosion control project in June 2011 and the project was expected to be completed in November 2012. AIRBDA was the executing agency, while M/S Vibro Engineering Company Limited was the consultant. The president approved N150, 000, 000.00 for the job but the contractor was paid N125, 375, 187.62 even as the job had been certified completed.
The reporter was at the sites on April 24, 2016. The Umushevelle project is an underground water channel, which residents said had made life easier for them. Mr. Iheanacho Jerlath, from Ikwe/Afor in Owalla Avuvu, said: “The erosion control project here is very good. When the project started, people in the community were very happy because of what we went through in time past. And since the project was executed, we’ve not had erosion problem again. Before the execution of the project, our road was in a terrible condition especially during the rainy season when the road is flooded. The community is happy because they even built a kilometer of road. Before the intervention, people used to abandon their homes because of flood.”
However, the project is creating another problem. Instead of channeling the erosion into the Umushevelle Mba River, it was diverted into a bush. Now, the area is being devastated.
The Afor Owubinubi-Ekeonumiri Road is in terrible condition. But residents acknowledge that with the erosion control measures, the flooding has been reduced. During the visit, Mr. Obi Lambert, a teacher at Amakohia Secondary School, Ikeduru, told the reporter: “Really, our people have been suffering for a very long time because of the deplorable condition of our roads. This has made communication to be very difficult because it is not easy accessing our community. In fact, if government can come to our aid by giving our roads facelift, I think that should be our greatest pleasure. With regard to the erosion problem, it has been minimised to a certain level but not totally controlled. Before the intervention, the Owubinubi-Ekeonumiri Road used to be flooded but this time around, the level of flooding has been reduced. But like I said earlier, the problem has not been totally solved.”
Perhaps, part of the reason there is still flooding there is the size of the channel. Narrow and shallow, it does not run through the entire stretch.
M/S Flab Engineering Services Limited was, in September 2011, awarded a contract to control the Nekede (Umumbazu) gully erosion and it was expected to be completed in August, 2012. FMENV was the executing agency while M/S Consultants was the consultant. The president approved N540, 083, 467.00 whereas N363,441,484.29 was the contract sum. The project is listed as completed and the contract sum paid in full.
However, documents from the Ecological Fund Office (EFO), which listed projects approved and funded by EFO in the fiscal years 2005 to 2015, indicated that the same Nekede (Umumbazu) gully erosion control project was awarded twice to the same company and on the same day. However, the second contract was awarded for N479, 733, 148.36 and the amount paid in full even as the contract has been certified as completed.
The reporter was at Nekede on April 4, 2016 and saw the erosion control measure. The water channel is narrow and did not get to the Otamiri River. The effect is that the foot of the uncompleted bridge is being affected by flood from the upper section of the road. It could not be ascertained if the bridge is part of the project.
An indigene of the area, Dr. C.C. Mezieobi said: “It is a shame that 40 years after the creation of Imo State, the bridge across the Otamiri River after Umumbazu has not been constructed, thus cutting off Umuoma from their kith and kin in Umumbazu and Umuejechi. A more experienced contractor should be engaged for that task and also for constructing the said bridge.”
On October 16, 2009, contract for procurement and installation of one multipurpose plastic waste recycling plant in Owerri was awarded to Abdul Essentials and expected date of completion was May 4, 2010. The amount approved by the president was N392, 315, 938. 30 for 26 cities; contract amount was N15, 089, 074.55 while N12, 071, 259.40 was paid to the contractor. Rindex Associates Trans Noska System Foga Associates Limited was the consultant and FME was the executing agency. The current status is 100 per cent completed. However, the location of the plant could not be found. For days, the reporter searched for the plant in Owerri but could not find it. Even officials of the state government, when contacted, said they were not aware of the project.
In the same vein, the reporter could not locate the site for development of tree nurseries and raising of seedlings whose contract was awarded to Sunthel Trust Limited in December 2010. Defob Consult Limited was the consultant while FMENV was the executing agency. The contract sum of N93, 511, 363.00 has been paid for the job expected to be completed within six months.
Gentrice was also awarded contract in December 2010 for the development of teak seedlings in Imo at N36, 702, 490.00. Six months was the expected date of completion even as the contract sum had been paid. The current status of the project is 100 per cent, while FMENV is the executing agency. Agama Environmental was the consultant. Again, the site could not be located.
THE ANAMBRA angle
Okpolo/Ire Ojoto erosion site
In September 2011, M/S Rhino Maritime Services & Construction Limited was awarded the Okpolo/Ire Ojoto erosion control contract and May 2012 was the expected date of completion. The president approved N245, 001, 333.14, while N234,104, 901.51 was the contract sum but the contractor was allegedly paid N233, 928, 422.53. Whereas the FME was the executing agency, M/S Austindev Associates Limited served as consultant. Documents from the EFO indicated that the project was 100 per cent completed.
On May 24, 2016, the reporter went to Ojoto and saw a community being ravaged by erosion. In fact, the condition of the community is better seen than described. According to a community leader from Ire village, Ojoto, Mr. Anthony Osita Obi, “in fact, this community is sitting on the keg of gun powder as far as erosion menace is concerned.” Erosion had swallowed a large of the community, creating monstrous gullies. Many houses have been swept away and some are the verge of becoming history.
One of the houses at the verge of being swallowed is the home of Mr. Emma Obika, a stroke victim. In fact, the house is just some feet away from the menace, but Obika remains in there. He told the reporter that he had no place to relocate to, especially considering his health status.
The erosion control measure handled by M/S Rhino Maritime Services & Construction Limited could, therefore, be regarded as scratching the menace. The contractor merely constructed small gutters in a part of the community. Perhaps that was the brief handed to him. But according to villagers, the drainage is too small for the volume of flood while the people living at the end of the road are at the receiving end. It was gathered that someone was swept away by the ferocious flood last year in Ojoto.
Speaking with the reporter, Hon Augustine Muomaife (Uduakommiri), who described himself as an APC youth leader in Anambra, said: “The erosion control project in Ojoto did not start from the point where it was supposed to start and run to the stream. We are still waiting for the second phase of the project because they said that the road would be asphalted and take the drainage to the stream. When some government officials came from Abuja, they said that they extended the road to our boundary with Umuoji to save the road but we have not seen them since then. The erosion control work they did is solving some problem and causing some problem too because they didn’t complete the job. It is threatening the houses at the end of the road because the flood is going down to the compounds because it is not channeled anywhere. And this is causing more gullies for us. That’s the problem we have.”
Consider what Obi said: “In fact, this community is sitting on the keg of gun powder as far as erosion menace is concerned. I was born in this community and erosion has been threatening us. For about 20 years, government has not paid any attention to this community in terms of checkmating erosion here. The only road that leads to this community as far back as 1970 was abandoned by government; it was an eyesore. I took you to the main erosion site and you saw things by yourself. The place we use to pass on foot has been so devastated that we need urgent help from government. I believe that some day government will listen to our cries. We are a law-abiding community; we’ve been loyal to successive administrations. So, we deserve a better deal. Many houses have been consumed by erosion and many still are being threatened. I cannot blame other communities that channeled their erosion into ours because we are living in the lower part of the state. I wonder what would become of the community in the next five years if nothing is done as a matter of urgency.”
Obodoeze Limited was awarded the Obosi erosion control (Phase 2) contract on August 17, 2005 and October 2006 was the expected date of completion. Messrs PSE Consultants Limited was the contractor, while AIRBDA was the executing agency. It was gathered that the contract sum of N655, 099, 414.20 had been paid and current status given as 100% completed.
A recent visit to Obosi showed that it was a case of some people smiling and others crying. The channeling of the flood has resulted in the sacking of some families from their homes. The reporter saw a school building that was pulled down. Mrs. Abigail Okoye said: “Some of us are living in hell. They channeled the flood to our side; so during the rainy season it is always horrendous for us. A school building was recently pulled down by erosion. The saving grace was that it happened on a Saturday when pupils were not in class.”
In November 2014, Parlarjoaana Global Services Limited was awarded contract for erosion control and road improvement works within Igbo Ukwu for N804, 310, 615.00 and expected date of completion was August 2015, while Archmedia Consult Limited was the consultant. The current status of the project is 100 per cent and N766, 030, 594.09 had been paid.
The reporter was at Igbo Ukwu recently but couldn’t trace the location. An ongoing road rehabilitation work seen there does not meet the specification of the erosion control and road improvement project.
Nri gullies and erosion control
In August 2013, contract was awarded to M/S Yobisco International Nigeria Limited for the Nri gullies and erosion control works and the expected date of completion was March 2014. The president approved N920, 000, 000.00, the contract sum was N829, 779, 696.11 and the contractor was paid N823,084,439.10. AIRBDA was the executing agency while M/S Shelter development Consultants was the consult. Current status of the job is 100 per cent completed.
The reporter was at Nri recently and saw some erosion control work done there. Yet, the town is not yet free of the menace because the whole erosion sites were not covered. Commenting on the development, a community leader, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “There has been erosion control in Nri and to the best of our knowledge, it was spearheaded by a former lawmaker. The measures have yielded positive impact, otherwise many houses would have been swept away by erosion here. That’s why we commend the former lawmaker and the federal government for taking such step.”
Another indigene, Azubuike, attributed the shortcoming to politics. “You know, there is politics everywhere – villages and cities. There was petition raised by one section of the town, claiming that they were marginalised and I personally believe that there was something like that. My final take is that erosion has devastated the area and it is good that the Federal Government has done something about it. My suggestion to the Federal Government is to make sure that when funds are released, there should be a monitoring team to monitor the execution of the project like The Sun has done now. This will help to ensure that the funds are used judiciously because I believe that somewhere along the line, funds were diverted. Most of the interventions are concentrated in the Agukwu section of Nri, where a prominent politician hails from. And that’s why people from the other side protested.”
Amatutu-Agulu erosion control
On February 23, 2005, Ronasco Nigeria Limited got the contract for the Amatutu-Agulu erosion control works and the expected date of completion was August 2006. The contract mount was N360, 588 ,495,00 and same amount was paid for the job listed as 100 per cent. Intecon Partnership was the consultant and FME was the executing agency.
The reporter went to Amatutu Agulu and saw a job well done. However, it could not ascertained weather it was the same contract because it is still fresh; it doesn’t look like a job executed about 10 years ago.
M/S Bloom Springs Ventures International Limited got the contract to control erosion at Nimo in August 2013 and March 2014 was the expected date of completion of the project. The president N900, 000, 000.00, the contract sum was N873, 812,198.61 but the contractor was paid N856, 780,475.50. The executing agency was AIRBDA, while M/S Shelter development Consultants was the consultant. Current status of the job is 100 per cent completed.
The reporter was Nimo and saw a gigantic erosion project. A town union official, Paul Chinweze, acknowledged that it was a damn good effort. His words: “I’m highly impressed about the erosion control measures. It is a big relief to the town because at the height of the problem, the depth was more than 100 feet. So, with the completion of the construction, we are relieved and we sing our praises to the Federal Government for doing it. But that does not mean that we are now free from erosion. We are surrounded by erosion areas. I don’t know if it is because of the type of sand we have. We have the one called Ngbokonkwo, which is very big. We have one at the boundary between Abagana and us; that one is also enormous. There are others as well. So, we are asking for more intervention by government.”
According to Ikala, before the intervention, “ the road to Neni was almost cut off. But in as much as the erosion control work at Nimo can be given a pass mark it is gradually creating another problem because it is channeled into where it is the bush destroying the environment.
Nkisi water works gully erosion control
In September 2011, M/S Grunz Link Limited was awarded the Nkisi water works gully erosion control, Onitsha and June 2012 was the expected date of completion. While the president approved N469, 803, 925.48, the contract amount was N420, 837, 124.80 and the amount paid was N420, 837, 124.80. The FME was the executing agency and M/S Joint Konsult was the consultant. The project has been certified completed.
The reporter was at the site recently. People living or doing business in the area said that the initiative has reduced their problem but it is not over yet. According to them, when the downpour is heavy, flood overflows the drainage.
Messrs Ronasco International Limited got the contract for the gully erosion project in Ifite Dunu in May 2010, while October 2011 was the expected date of completion. Documents from the EFO indicate that the contract sum of N357, 901, 230.28 has been paid, even as the project had been certified completed. Bal Engineering Limited was the consultant and FME was the executing agency.
The reporter was at Ifite Dunu recently and the people revealed that the erosion control effort had alleviated their suffering. According to Mr. Edozie Chiobi, “the erosion control work has helped us immensely. I think if not for the project, erosion would have swept away many houses. It would have even swept away people because of the force with which it comes. However, there are other places that need erosion control in Ebendo. Erosion is about to cut off the road linking other villages.”
Flood/erosion and road improvement measures at Alor town
M/S Critoc consultants served as consultants when M/S Princeton Ventures Limited won the contract for the flood/erosion and road improvement measures at Alor town, Idemili LGA, Anambra State in September 2011. The job was expected to be completed in March 2013. The amount approved by the president was N596,7 58,017.08, the contract amount was N576, 169, 785.35 while the contactor was paid N529, 743, 820.78.The FME was the executing agency for the contracted whose status is stated as 100% completed.
On May 24, 2016, the reporter was at Alor and saw a town with good road network, even as the flood/erosion problem have been solved. An elderly woman, who identified herself simply as Mama Eddy, told the reporter: “The problem of flood is over in our area. Before now, flood used to get to my waist whenever it rained. Then anytime the weather changed, fear will grip me.”
As they say, to see is to believe. Go to Alor town and see money well spent. The roads are smooth and the drainage conveys floodwater into the river. But another problem is brewing: bushes are sprouting in the water channels and with time it will block the water flood. A locale, who refused to disclose his name, said that government ought to come to Alor Town from time to time to clear the grass and sand in the drainage.
However, it was discovered from the signpost in the area that the contractor was Paul C. Nigeria PLC. It could not be ascertained if it was the same contract the EFO claimed it awarded to M/S Princeton Ventures Limited.
Ukpor gully erosion measures
On May 16, 2007, Obodoeze Nigeria Limited was awarded the Ukpor gully erosion control measures contract and August 2008 was the expected date of completion. AIRDA was the executing agency, while Messrs Sifon Engineering Limited was the consultant. The president approved N365, 000, 000.00, the contract sum was N269, 429, 164.00 and N263, 291, 648.00 was paid. Officially, the work is 100 per cent completed.
Interestingly, documents from Ecological Fund Office showed that the same contract was awarded again on the same day (16/5/07) to Flab Engineering Services and the date of completion was also August 2008. In this case, the president approved N300, 000, 000.00 and the contractor was paid the contract sum of N269, 429, 164.00. Again, AIRDA was the executing firm and M/S Sifon Engineering Services Limited was the consultant. Yet again, the current status of the contract, according to official documents, is 100 per cent completed.
On May 25, 2016, the reporter went to Ukpor and discovered that the contract had not been completed. The immediate evidence to confirm this is the number of equipment abandoned at the site. Again, the water channel is not deep. Worse still, the flood is channeled into farmlands where it is wreaking havoc.
Nchedo Okeke, a native of Umuhu, Ukpor said: “We are certainly not happy with the work done here in the name of erosion control. In fact, they just abandoned the work and our farmlands are being damaged; we cannot farm anymore. This is because the flood is not properly channeled. They just channeled it into farmlands. So, while they are attempting to control erosion and flooding in one area, they are causing havoc in another area. We are asking federal government to help so that the contractor(s) can at least complete the road construction.”
However, Ignatius Okoye noted that although the project had not been completed, “flood no longer enters my compound as it used to. But it is destroying the land some people farm on.”
Sources insist that the Ukpor – Okija Road is part of the contract. When the reporter passed through the stretch to connect the Owerri-Onitsha highway, it took some ingenuity to navigate through.
In December 2010, Enomas Projects Limited got the contract for the development of teak seedlings in Anambra State within six months at the cost of N39, 594, 538.20. Agama Environmental was the consultant while FMENV was the executing agency. The current status of the project is 100% but the reporter could not find the site. Does anyone know where the teak seedlings were developed?
THE CASE OF ENUGU
M/S Carsul Limited was the consultant while the FME was the executing agency in the Obinagu-Akpulu-Enugueze-Umuorma-Azunkwo erosion control project awarded to M/S Nostro Ventures Limited in September 2011 and the expected date of completion was May 2012. The president approved N1, 556, 653, 936.68 for the job and the contractor was paid N1,482, 687, 008.88. The current status of the project, according to official record, is 100 per cent completion.
The reporter was at the site on May 27, 2016 and saw that there was some relief on the faces of the locals. Some of the roads were rebuilt while shallow water channels were dug. It was also discovered that in some places, the gutters were dug on one side of the road only.
Offering his opinion on the effectiveness of the project, Eneh Edward Ndubuisi from Ugwuagu in Obinagu said: “The community is benefiting immensely from the erosion control project. Before the project was executed, most the roads in our area were not passable. There were gullies and ditches here and there. In fact, some of the roads were almost cut into two by the gullies. Before now, some people who have cars don’t bring their cars to the village unless villagers do some road repair work. I can say that the project has made things easy for everybody. The farmers, in particular, are benefiting because of the road. Before, some people will go to the farm but to bring home their harvest will be a problem.
However, Mrs. Agatha Chime, a retired nurse, argued that though the project offered some relief to the community it has not completely solved the problem. “We thank government for remembering us but the job cannot be said to be completely okay. First, the water channel is not deep enough. So, sometimes when it rains heavily, the shallow gutter they dug will be filled and flood will be on the road. Again, the quality is questionable as some portions are already failing.”
On April 4, 2007, Anbeez Services Ltd was awarded contract for erosion and flood control at Abia Town in Udi LGA of Enugu State. The president approved N298, 134, 250.00 for the job while contractor was paid N274, 202, 049.00. AIRDA was the executing agency and M/S Ebasco Consulting Engineers served as consultants. The expected date of completion of the project was December 2007. Official records indicate that the project has been completed.
On May 27, 2016, the reporter was at Abia Town and saw a community devastated by hurricane erosion. There, your eyes rove around an expansive open earth, earth eaten up by earth eater. And there are signs of portions to be eaten soon. According to locals, their problem was worsened by “the so-called erosion and flood control effort.” There is lamentation all over the community because of the steady loss of farmlands and the increasing threat of losing homes.
Paul Eneh who hails from Abia town told the reporter: “The people have been here at least two times to work on the erosion problem in our area, to no avail. In fact, the situation is far worse now than it was before the so-called erosion and flood control effort. The speed with which our land is being eroded is so tremendous that everybody is living in fears. It has setback the farming system of our people; many farmlands have been destroyed. So, we are crying to the government to come and help us before the community is completely wiped out. The way erosion is eating up the land, we may lose our homes in a short time.
Donatus Onyibe is one of the farmers whose farmland and crops were swallowed by erosion. Looking at him, it is easy that to see that life has not been fair to him. Looking hungry and with palpable pain his voice, he said: “The vast expanse of land consumed by erosion used to be farms. But since the problem started, our farms were wiped out. All the paths the caterpillars took while they were working at the place have collapsed, washed away by erosion. All the lands there are gone. I lost all my farms and the crops. I lost all I have laboured for over the years. Right now, I am not doing anything. We are going about looking where to cultivate. My family is facing serious hardship. We are now living from hand to mouth. So, we are appealing to government to find away of arresting the situation because it is worsening by the day; it is worse now than before the control effort. Again, for us that have lost our means of livelihood, government should help us.”
Speaking with the reporter on telephone, the traditional ruler of Abia Town did not mince words about his dissatisfaction about the quality of work done. Sounding exasperated, he said: “The place is worse now than before. An inexperienced and incompetent engineer, a woman, was used for the job. The rain washed away whatever they did. We are all living in danger of being swallowed by erosion.”
Ozalla and Obe flood & erosion control
Contract was awarded to Sanbath Nigeria Limited for the control of flood and erosion at Ozalla and Obe in Enugu State in 2005 and the expected date of completion was October 2006. The president approved the contract amount of N559, 689, 900.00 while N556, 519, 629.19 was paid. Messrs Capital Project Consultant was the consultant and AIRBDA was the executing agency. The current status of the project is stated as 100 per cent
The reporter was at the sites recently. Ozalla residents disclosed, “when it rains, flood runs into the Upagbi River. The gutters are helping, but they are narrow and shallow.” It was also discovered that the water channel did not run through the entire stretch.
Obe people also said that the erosion and flood control measure had reduced their distress, adding that the problem has not been completely solved.
Ify Ogbodo said: “Before they embarked on the flood control measure, flood used to open doors. If you lock your door during heavy downpour, flood will tear it open. But now is no more as severe as that.”
Another respondent, Ikem, regretted that “the narrow drainage has been blocked by rubbish, so when it rains everywhere will be flooded again.”
On July 2, 2005, Tikshood Engineering Limited was awarded contract for erosion control on Agric Lonas at Obeagu and December 2006 was the expected date of completion. Messrs Capital Project Consultant was the consultant while FMARD was the executing agency. Investigation revealed that the contract sum of N79, 721, 105.00 had been paid and the current status of the project is 100 per cent. On May 27, 2016, the reporter went in search of the project site, but could not locate it.
On July 31, 2009, contract was awarded to Boskel Nigeria Limited for the procurement and installation of one medical waste incinerator at University Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu within 16 weeks. Kike Engineering Services Limited was the consultant, while FMC was the executing agency. For the project, the president approved N170, 000, 000.00 whereas the contract amount was N85, 000, 000.00. It was learnt that N63, 750, 000.00 had been paid with 100 per cent as the status.
The reporter could not ascertain weather the project had been executed or not. For UNTH officials, it’s see no evil, speak no evil. The reporter called UNTH PRO, Keneze, but he did not pick his call. He also didn’t react to text sent to him.
In December 2010, Trake Construction Limited was awarded contract for development of tree nurseries and raising of seedlings in Enugu within six months. Global Tree Planters was the consultant and FMENV was the executing agency. Investigation revealed that the contract amount was N90, 669, 292.23 but N82,529,605.43 was paid. The reporter couldn’t locate the site.
The reporter made concerted efforts to speak with some of the contractors concerning the jobs. While some of them were prevaricating and or evasive, others laid their cards on the table. For example, when the reporter called Flab Engineering Services Limited at about 14.10pm on August 9, 2016, a voice, which refused to identify itself, began to act funny as soon as the reporter introduced himself and the purpose for the call. First, he said that he couldn’t understand what the reporter was saying, promising to call back in five minutes. But he never did. The reporter called him again after about 30 minutes and he asked to be given two minutes to make consultations. Thereafter, he said that there had been a name change, saying that he had left the company for another.
When the reporter called Grunz Link Limited, which handled the Nkisi water works erosion control at Onitsha, Anambra State, someone who identified himself as Uche Ubajiaka but refused to give his designation, said that the project “has been completed ages ago.” He also acknowledged that payment had being made to the company.
The reporter also called Ometra Construction Engineering Limited, which handled the Amando (Bende Ntalakwu) erosion control, Abia State and Oruruala Oguduasa gully erosion control and someone who identified himself, as Victor James, a staff of the company, said that the projects had been completed and payments paid.
However, the chairman of Clem & Smith International, which handled the ABSU gully erosion project, admitted that the job had not been completed. He explained: “The issue is that we have almost completed the project but there was a fault from the consultant; the design was faulty. They did not design for drains to be provided on both sides of the road, so we did drains on one side towards the side they have quarters where we did the main erosion control. The other side where they have the hostel on that road, we couldn’t do it because it was not provided for and if we do it, we would not be paid. So, they told us that the second phase had been presented to Mr. President, especially the one inside the university so that if he approves it we will attend to it holistically and do the road for about 600 metres up the hill where there is a culvert.
“When this thing happened, we were waiting for that approval. They later sent Mr. Emeka Eze, who was the DG, Procurement then, to come and look at it and he saw it. And we did a very good job, which the university testified to. So, we were waiting for the approval to enable us do that road so that the work we’ve done will stabilise. That approval never came and President Jonathan left. Other contractors on the 13 South East projects have gone and collected their retention fee because they said that they were not doing again. I refused to go and collect my retention fee, still giving them opportunity to review the project so that we can go and complete it. This is what has happened. We’ve not been fully paid; we’ve been paid about a little over 60 per cent.”
Attempting to speak with the Permanent secretary, Ecology Fund Office in Abuja is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. The place is shredded in secrecy; in fact, it is run like a secret cult. Everyone keeps sealed lips. It was gathered that only the SGF could speak on the Fund.
Speaking on the issue, on behalf of Babashir Lawal, SGF, his media aide, Mr. Bolaji Adebiyi, said: “Ordinarily, the procedure is that jobs will only be paid for when they are completed.”