Dear Chief of Staff,
I followed your chats on ICDA where you called every past leader of Kogi State a thief as adjudged by your new direction government. Fair enough you have the right to pass judgment considering that you are the current custodian of their records.
I felt the need to write this letter due to the recent worrisome trends deduced from your conversations on social media. A trend that portrays an unjust attempt at revisionism aimed at flattering the all too frequent missteps of your infantile boss.
You claimed the Wada administration conceived several white elephant projects, with the sole aim of siphoning scarce resources from Kogi State. Notable among these projects are the “Ganaja Bridge” flyover and the Kogi House project.
Before I proceed to address your attempted revisionism doctrine, there is the need to take you down memory lane. For without history, we cannot have a future.
The Ganaja Flyover project is part of the Lokoja master-plan that was designed by the renowned Aim Consultants during the Babangida Military Administration. The master plan has several legacy projects aimed at upgrading Lokoja City. Some of these projects include: The Lokoja Township Stadium, Lokoja Water Works, The Specialist Hospital, The Commissioners Quarters, Otokiti Ganaja Bye-Pass, amongst others. I would have expected you to do some due diligence with the department of town-planning before rushing out to make spurious allegations. A behavioral trait that is seemingly genetic.
The state Government and TEC Engineering spent six months conceptualizing the design and funding aspects of the project. At the ground breaking ceremony, Gov. Wada explained why he decided to push on with the project at the tail end of his administration. In his wisdom, there was need for the project to commence due to the significant impact it will on the city traffic and aesthetics. For him it was also a strategy of committing the incoming administration toward development. He further stated that it was a contractor finance project. The contractor was to source for funding from China at an interest of 2%. Upon completion the State was meant repay in instalments.
Mr. Onoja, going by verifiable facts, Wada did the ground breaking ceremony of the “White Elephant Ganaja Bridge” project a month before he left office. He also did not make any payments to the contractor, yet you claimed he wanted to use the project to divert funds from the state. Seems someone, somewhere is not thinking properly!
Now let’s take a look at the project cost and variations. Gov. Wada awarded the project at N4.6 Billion without releasing any funds to the contractor. Nearly a year later, the GYB administration after painstakingly reviewing the contract from the initial length of 1200 meters to 200 meters, went on to release N1.86 Billion to the contractor without any reduction in the contract sum.
Since it was a white elephant project, can Onoja help Kogites understand the following?
- What had informed the release of funds to the contractor nearly a year after the ground breaking ceremony by the Wada administration?
- Shouldn’t a review in the length of the flyover from 1200 meters to 200 meters (as stated by Kingsley Fanwo on Channels politics today), necessitate a significant downward review in the total contract sum?
- Furthermore for a Government that prides itself on integrity, why was the contractor not prosecuted for participating in a “deliberate” scheme to defraud Kogi State?
- Rather than prosecution, why was the contractor patronized further by the GYB Government and encouraged to move the money to other projects a year after the initial disbursement.
- Did the contractor refund the interest generated on the N1.86 Billion disbursement that was domiciled in their coffers for almost a year?
While you ponder on these questions, I will like to move on to the issue of diversion of funds to the Ankpa Township road. On 13th July, 2015 Gov. Wada flagged off the Ankpa Township Road at a contract sum of N642 Million. Video evidences available as at the time of the flag off, prove that significant work was ongoing. The drainages were being built and the worn-out asphalt had been scrapped off.
The aforementioned leads me to another set of questions:
- Considering that 30% of the work had been done, how much was paid to the contractor to complete the Job?
- Was there any variation? If so, how much?
- Before the release of funds for the Ganaja Project, was the State Government not aware of the ongoing Ankpa Township road?
- If in the affirmative for the previous question, why was due diligence not carried out before releasing funds for a “White Elephant Ganaja Flyover” rather than the Ankpa Township Road project?
In your social media sermons, you also accused Wada of using the insignificant Kogi House in Abuja, to divert funds from the state. The last I remember, Wada awarded the eleven-floor Kogi House for N2.2 Billion. Which takes me to the third set of questions:
- Will you consider Kogi House that Wada awarded at N2.2 Billion for eleven floors, cheaper than the “Three-Floor” Revenue House Bello built for N1.1 Billion?
- Will you consider the rate of N200 per floor for the eleven-floors Kogi House to be more expensive than the N367 Million per floor Revenue House? Despite the former having a wider floor area.
- Going by the costing of both projects, which project will you adjudge was conceptualized to aid and abet the diversion of funds from the State’s coffers?
As you work assiduously to answer the aforementioned questions, let me further deepen my inquisitiveness.
The Wada administration started and completed the expansion and resurfacing of the Lokoja township roads. The contract was part of the Bond project that was awarded to CGC Engineering for N4.5 Billion. The scope of work spanned from the Welcome to Lokoja (Kabba/Okene) Junction to Nataco Junction. Covering a total of 15 Kilometers. Despite the government’s inability to access the bond in full, he dug deep into the scarce resources to fund the project to completion. Edward, it is now Question time:
- Despite the obvious fact that the job had been completed, why did the GYB administration re-award the contract to the following companies:
I. Lot1 –Munir Industries and Trade at N4.8 Billion
II. Lot 2- Recon and Company at N2.9 Billion
Making it a total of N7.7 Billion. Almost double the amount it took for the previous administration to finish the work.
- What informed the decision to re-award the contract considering that work had been completed?
- What informed the near 70% variation on the completed project?
- Going by the costing, which would you consider was used to divert money from the State’s coffers?
The iconic English writer and essayist, George Orwell once opined that, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
I boldly stand to say that your attempt at revisionism falls flat on logic. The previous administration through its prudent management of scarce resources laid a strong foundation for future administrative successes. Rather than attempt to revise the past, he should have built on its strengths. Unfortunately your principal has mismanaged the enormous amount of resources accrued to his administration and has failed to be accountable to the people. Hence he is not in a position to question the “Ganaja Flyover” and other good intentioned projects.
Finally, I look forward to your detailed and convincing responses.
By Okai Austin