Lateef Raji, in this second leg of his debate towards the October 20 governorship election in Ondo State, dismisses what supporters of the Dr. Olusegun Mimiko administration define as sterling performance
While the glamourised debates televised on the various television stations had attracted its own crowd as a somewhat celebrated show, I had opened up another debate here on this esteemed page of this newspaper and others for the more enlightened minds as well as the discerning. The essence, as many had misconstrued, was not to undermine or denigrate anyone in the run up to the election, but rather to establish certain facts that may help inform the choice of voters in the October 20 election.
Yes, I have read a few replies to what looked like my article in some national dailies, but if all I had read is what the aides of Governor Olusegun Mimiko would refer to as their reply to the issues in my originating article, I am more than disappointed. But again, it is either they do not have the facts to counter my arguments or that the issues raised in my piece were far too deep for them to comprehend.
However, since the much talked about election is this weekend, I have decided to within the short time remaining continue with my own debate- just a second leg of it. Thus, in this edition, I want us to ponder some of the projects, especially the various market projects that had become the unique selling point for the government and its publicists.
Let’s start with the Ogbese Regional Market. It was earmarked in the 2010 budget and the contract was allegedly awarded to the present Akure South Local Government Caretaker Chairman, Hon Adejuyigbe for the sum of N150 Million. The site was cleared after compensation had been paid to the farm owners.
Drawing and bills of Quantity were made by the contractor. But there was no tender, neither was there any approval for the market construction since 2010. Yet, N150 million allegedly allocated for that project in the 2010 financial year has not been accounted for. The supervising ministry, Ministry of Physical Planning is still on the job but the file is said to be missing.
There is the Ultra Modern Mechanic Village in Akure. Two of these were to be executed at a cost of N75million each. The first site is on Oda Road, opposite Silos Ground, Akure. No tender was made, and there was no drawing and plan for the site. There was no Bill of Quantity on the site also. The site was assigned and contracted out to Ondo State Direct Labour Agency, headed by Mrs. Bolaji Suara. At the initial stage of the project, the site was cleared but as you read this, there is no structure on the site.
The second one is located on Ondo/EMDI Road, also in Akure. This also was to cost the government N75 million with Direct Labour Agency as the contractor. Like the first one, there is no drawing, no Bill of Quantity and no approval. However, on this site, a mechanic village was constructed. But as you read this, the place has not been put to use by the artisans.
Ilula Recreation Park, Sijuade Zone in Akure was earmarked in the 2010 budget and allegedly awarded for N80 million and later increased to N90 million through variation. But the project was valued for N45 million by Estate Valuer, Xerxes Nigeria Limited, owned by Mr. Lolu Afilaka. It handled the contract as a selective contract since the job was not properly tendered for. With the available data, the recreation centre did not have drawing details; no approved Bill of Quantity, yet the contractor still went ahead to construct. The place is now in use.
Akure Central Motor Park, right behind the Central Mosque, is an interesting project. The site affected 72 houses from both sides of Oja-Oshodi and Isolo serving as the boundary. Fifty-two houses were demolished, and compensation paid to the owners. Very good! But the fund for the construction of the site was not in the State budget account. There is no approved plan for the project which Dortmund Nigeria Limited is presently handling. The park is to house 2,000 cars and is supposed to be in two phases.
Phase one is behind the Central Mosque, while phase two is on Oja-Oshodi Street. The Phase one was awarded for N800 million. The demolition and evacuation fee, including the filling of the site was allegedly paid for twice. The initial payment of N13 million was allegedly made to the Committee for the park in 2010 when the former Commissioner for Land and Housing, Mr. Basaru, was Chairman of the said Committee. Dortmund Nigeria Limited requested for another N28 million for same evacuation and filling.
The request was approved and granted. N600 million has been received by the Contractor for the uncompleted project which only has 200 parking spaces for cars.
At the site, scanty asphalt was laid with two buildings on it for administrative purposes. The Estate Valuer estimated the project to cost of N200 million. Till now, the cost for the central park has not been mentioned in government’s account.
The first neighbourhood market constructed by the Mimiko government is on Adekunle Ajasin Road named Investment Market, a stone throw from the main NEPA market, Akure. The project was awarded by the Ministry of Physical Planning for N140 million. Typically, there is no plan and Bill of Quantity. Light and water are provided. The cost for rent is on a high side and Valuers gave the actual cost for the building at N80Million.
Isikan Market is supposed to be in two phases. The market construction cost N210 million but valued at N180 million by Estate Valuers. Direct Labour Agency handled the construction and there is no parking space. The Isikan Market attracted a query from the Ondo State Ministry of Physical Planning for no proper planning and deficiency in the construction. The Direct Labour Agency rebuffed the query and went ahead with the construction and the allocation of the site to traders when it was completed.
Cashhold Market was awarded to Johnson Construction Limited for N80 million, but valued to cost N45 million by Estate Valuers. The market has no functional light and borehole water. The cost of rent is affecting the market, therefore, the place is not fully in use and partly abandoned by traders.
The NEPA Market was awarded for N400 million, but valued to cost N300 million by Estate Valuers. There is no parking space at the site as it is over built covering all the space available, with no approved plan and Bill of Quantity.
Odopetu, Okelisa and Isolo Markets were built by the Agagu government between 2005 and 2009, but renovated between 2010 and 2011 by the incumbent. The renovation was said to have cost Mimiko a N100 million. In 2011, Hon. Ifedayo Omolafe, a former Chairman of Akure South Local Government took up the Labour Party Government on the markets.
The Akure International Auto market besides NNPC was said to cost N450 million, though not budgeted for. No approved plan and no approved Bill of Quantity. Later, the project cost was increased to N550 million. Yet, it was valued at N200 million by Estate Valuers. The space for automart is to occupy 2,000 vehicles. The asphalt overlay by OSAC at the site is in a bad state; the roof of most of the building had been blown several times.
The first one happened three days after the commissioning in 2010. The lighting and water supply which are done through generator are not functioning. The automart light is not connected to the national grid of PHCN.
The Governor’s cousin handled the solar power for the automart for the sum of N25 million.
Also, the development of roadside Car Parks along Oba Adesida Street, Akure is of concern to us. In the 2010 budget, N112 million was allegedly budgeted for the construction of 13 road side car parks.
The parks were awarded to Dortmund Nigeria Limited, a company solely registered for Cocoa Investment and exporting owned by an Ijareman. Initially, it was to be supervised by the Ministry of Physical Planning but handed over to the Ministry of Works, headed by Mr. GbenroAdegboye. Five of the parks were left undone, yet, the fund for them had been allegedly paid to the contractor.
Urban Development Master Plan for Akure was earmarked for N80 million, while Ore and Ikare Township were to cost N45 million each as stated in the 2010 budget and Aims Consulting firm was selected for the Akure township master plan. There was tendering and bidding for the project. The selected company to handle the project was not favoured by the Governor and therefore, the project was stalled.
Urban Renewal activities and studies were to cost N170 Million as stated in the Year 2010 budget. The study report written for the selected areas in the township namely Akure, Ondo, Owo, Ore and Ikare were executed at N250,000 each. Three were executed in Akure while other towns had one each. No rehabilitation was done and nothing happened to the project, yet the fund was also alleged to have been released.
Proposed rehabilitation of Oba Adesida Road- a distance of 9.2km was awarded to Fountain Construction Company with the help of Soji Bello and sole beneficiary. Soji is Governor Mimiko’s proxy and close associate. The road was constructed by the first Military Governor, David ItaIkpeme.
The rehabilitation, however, excluded the lantern, bus shelters and the roundabout development. Estate Valuers believed that the road could be rehabilitated for N700 million because it is not expanded while some of the bus shelters/bus stops still block some structure. Two owners of some of the buildings are now in court with the State Government. And till date, flooding is still prevalent in that area as there are no drainages.
Sadly, again, the landscaping and beautification of Oba Adesida Road inAkure has no design, no Bill of Quantity, but it was said to be earmarked for construction at N179 million, which was not budgeted for in the annual budget. The project has begun to attract attention because N150 million is believed to have been released to a federal Civil Servant and Governor Mimiko’s friend, Mr. Akadiri. Another interesting aspect to the project is the abandonment, which is giving the supervising Ministry of Works serious concern.
The Government House Recreation Park also has no design and Bill of Quantity, yet, the project is completed. The contract was awarded for N25 Million, which did not appear in the state’s budget and to the same contractor who handled Oba Adesida road beautification.
The Roundabout Development Project was equally not budgeted for in the annual budget. It was awarded at a cost of N16 million each. The design, expectedly, did not have plan and no bill of quantity and two of it had been completed by Mr. Soji Bello. Each of the roundabout projects was said to cost N9 million.
Lastly for this debate is Tomato Paste Factory at Arigidi Akoko. The Ondo Government released N400 million in 2010 to Perfect Integrated Food Industry Limited, owned by Mr. Gideon Adebayo from Osun State. The factory site was developed in the 90s by the then military administration.
The N400 million released by Mimiko has not been deployed to any good use. Now, the factory is unattended to and remains abandoned. There is nothing on ground to justify the huge amount granted from public funds in all of these. Part of the N400 million was meant for the development of tomato farms within the state, but nothing can be shown for it.
Understandably and given the lazy disposition of some of the governor’s aides, the time might be too short to file a deserving response because even when they had ample time to throw light on some of the issues raised in the first leg of this debate, they failed in their responsibility.
However, even after they might have left office this Saturday, October 20; the good people of Ondo still require explanations to the arbitrariness that had gone on in the last four years in the state.
*Raji is Special Adviser on Information to the Lagos State Governor