New Telegraph

Still on Transparency in Abia State

I want to express my appreciation to Governor Alex Otti for reportedly making good his promise to hire Julius Berger (JB) to complete the Port Harcourt Road, Aba, project that was started by his predecessor. When a leader fulfills his electoral promise, it gladdens my heart, and this particular move is a good one for many reasons, including the psychological benefits of having another grade A contractor work in our state.

Former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu used five grade A contractors in addition to local contractors including Setraco, Hartland, Arab Contractors, Bulletine, the Chinese Company that constructed Osisioma Fly-over and some very experienced local contractors such as Rockwaters, Ferotex, Track- are, Tunnel End, etc. While I appreciate the coming of Julius Berger to Aba, the reoccurring issues of transparency in governance are being thrown up again and I wish to call on the Governor to take advantage of his proposed Flag off of the recommencement of work tomorrow to address the issues, and going forward learn to front load critical information to close the gap between his administration and rumor mills.

Two days ago I received information from a top government official in Abia State that the Otti administration awarded the completion of the reconstruction work along Port Harcourt Road, Aba, for N30b and the additional 2-lanes of the existing four-lane Osaah road in Umuahia for N8b. Of course I couldn’t wrap my head around those huge amounts and decided to verify before asking relevant questions. But this morning, I’ve read the same information all over social media with the dominant response from aides and supporters of Otti simply being “we don’t care if he spends N30b” and that worries me.

To me, this is a huge red flag. For those who may not have necessary background information, reconstruction of Port Harcourt, Aba, was awarded by former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu in 2017 to Hartland Nigeria Ltd; the same grade A contractor that the federal government awarded Umuahia-Ikot Ekene Federal Road and Okigwe-Umuahia segment of Enugu- PH federal highway projects to. The total sum of the project as awarded by Dr. Ikpeazu was N9.98b for 6-lane with BRT, gutters on both sides end to end.

As at the time Governor Ikpeazu left office in 2023 Hartland had done more than 40% of the work with the gutters established end to end along the 5.9km road as well as the drains discharge channel to Umuagbai pond, already implemented. Further work was obviously stalled by limitations in fund availability with competing needs. It is shocking to hear and read flying rumors that the same project completion has now been re-awarded for N30b of taxpayers money to JB and I wish to call on Governor Otti to use the opportunity of the flag off to explain this to the people of Abia State.

Some of the issues he has to address includes the actual award cost to JB, information on due process, including advertising the work in national newspapers, bid amounts by others who indicated interest in the project, or any, and budgetary approval by the state house of assembly to spend the rumored N30b on the project. The public also deserves to know if the contract was directly awarded to JB, and if not, which company is employing JB and at what amount did they get the job.

We will then be free to compare the value we are getting for our money vis-à-vis what other states like Rivers and Akwa Ibom are paying for similar jobs. The Alex Otti of APGA, APC and Labour Party would have demanded similar information about transparency, and he made a personal commitment to be transparent in governance when he stated during his inaugural address on 29th May, 2023 that “The time for the rebuilding process has begun.

Transparency, accountability, and public trust shall be at the centre of everything we do,” Furthermore, we have also heard through the same back channels that the two lanes being added to the existing 4-lane of Ossah road in Umuahia is costing Abia Tax Payers a whopping N8b or more. Suffice it to note that in the same Umuahia, former Governor Ikpeazu awarded and completed 4-lane Aba road up to Railway junction at Afor Ibeji with gutters and at least 2 major culverts at the cost of N975m.

The project was executed by Arab contractors, a grade A construction company in Nigeria. How on earth will Ossah road of 3.5km cost N8b to do additional two lanes even if we factor in the N700m Otti confirmed was used to pay compensation? The Otti administration hired a local contractor, Cranberg, for the job yet we are allegedly paying N8b?

Read Previous

Energy Crisis: Why FG Should Declare Emergency on Refineries –Experts

Read Next

Ronaldo Now World’s Highest- Paid Player