Roads Construction: Ex Ogun Governorship Candidate, Banjo Commends Minster Of Works, Umahi

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A former governorship candidate in Ogun State, Ogbeni Lanre Banjo has commended the Minister of Works, Engr. David Umahi for ensuring quality work on roads construction across the country.

Ogbeni Banjo in a letter addressed to the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Works, Engr. David Umahi, said the passionate manner in which Umahi expressed himself with unshaking love for Nigeria about the design of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, which he described as an overkill and the general construction of roads in Nigeria is well appreciated.

According to the letter “I am prompted to commend you after I watched a video on the social media about your meeting with contractors handling projects in Nigeria, the Press, the Directors and Deputy Directors of the Federal Ministry of Works.  The passionate manner in which you expressed yourself with unshaking love for Nigeria about the design of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road, which you described as an overkill and the general construction of roads in Nigeria is well appreciated by a few of us who genuinely love this country. I was not shocked at your revelation that no newly constructed road in Nigeria will last for seven (7) years because I have observed that some of the roads constructed in Ogun State not quite eight (8) years ago are riddled with pot holes.

As a professional Engineer, I applaud your stand and insistence that from kilometre 0 to 38, the design of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road must be with concrete. No reasonable compatriot should disagree with this professional and genuine advice for an alteration in the initial grandiose overkill design of the road and the new policies you are putting in place to ensure that government gets value for monies spent on projects. Unalloyed gratitude is also expressed for the palliative of fifteen million Naira (N15m) you donated to the employees of your Ministry regardless of party affiliation. This your personal money is a genuine palliative. God bless you more.

The infractions you pointed out in the award and in the implementation of the contracts awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works can be said to be the bane of eyesore of infrastructure in our country. Poor execution of contracts by contractors and complicity of supervising engineers and in some cases, consultants, fuel the misappropriation of our common wealth and leave the nation with defectively constructed infrastructure with bloated costs.

It is of a great economic concern that some supervising engineers and consultants approve the charge for equipment not deployed to sites and milestones that are mostly not achieved to be inserted into progress certificates and certified for payment. They often times also collude with contractors to submit undeserved variation claims to contract sums and go to the extent of getting these fraudulent claims to be approved. These false and criminal claims are passed through the bureaucracy of the supervising Ministry to Ministers, some of who may be innocent, to approve these deceptive claims to be paid. The Honourable Minister, I am glad you are not one of those to be deceived

We should also blame and enlighten our fellow citizens who are employees of the contractors and the Federal Ministry of Works who are quick to crucify the government rather than the contractors they see using inferior materials for construction. These citizens are used against their own country just for a pot of porridge whilst the contractors and their ilk milk our country dry and leave us with bad roads that take lives of travellers and make it impossible for our government to provide health services, education and potable water and other infrastructure the government needs to put in place for the overall development of the country.

In the overall interest of the country, please stay the course.  Intimidation, slander and blackmail may result from your boldness and rare patriotic stand in a manner similar to the recent case of Honourable Tolulope Akande-Sadipe which was aired on Arise Television. The Honourable asserted that the Federal Ministry of Works awarded the 45 Kilometre Ijebu-Igbo Ibadan road for rehabilitation in 2018. The Olojuoro, Ijebu-Igbo, Ita Egba, Owonomwen road project in her constituency in Oyo State was awarded to D.C. Engineering with a two-year completion period.  Unfortunately, after five years, one kilometer of the road had not even been completed in spite of the contractor’s substantial mobilization. Additionally, the contract was reviewed from N9.8 billion to a whooping N54. Billion.

All the rigmaroles led to a hearing before an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives on September 7, 2023. Instead of the Company to focus on their abysmal failure to perform better, the Contractor attempted to defame and intimidate the Honourable.  The Honourable stood firm, and after the hearing, the bold stand of the Honourable and principles demonstrated by her paid off.  Engr. Adedamola Kuti, Director, Highways South, Federal Ministry of Works, while responding to the allegation against the lawmaker refuted the slander and falsehood. The non-performing issue still lingers on, and I pray it would not extend beyond your tenure.

In light of the foregoing, I wish to suggest the following policies for implementation:

Whistle blowing, if already in place, must be strengthened and enforcement must be given an impetus.Citizens must be mobilized to show sense of patriotism as a cardinal catalyst for change in the way they perceive projects being undertaking or have been undertaken by the government. They need to realize that they own these projects and the contractors are paid from their sweat.Supervising engineers and consultants that collude with contractors must be fished out and penalised. All illegally acquired wealth must be recovered from them.Consultants that are found to be culpable must not only be blacklisted from getting any government contract but prosecuted with a view to recovering any illegal wealth from them.Our government must encourage our citizens to be in construction business.  This would impact the strength of the Naira over foreign currencies.

I seize this rare opportunity to urge the Honourable Minister to remain steadfast and undeterred in your avowed mission to do what is right and proper for this country.  You have proven to be worthy of your appointment by His Excellency, President Ahmed Tinubu and I wish you all the best in the discharge of your duties.  Please consider my commendation on behalf of the teeming and voiceless masses and as a challenge for you to do more for the nation and the President who appointed you.

In conclusion, I wish you all the best in the discharge of your duties, the letter concluded.

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