Claim, counterclaim as EnetSud alleges N750m contract inflation by Kwara works ministry

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By Ibraheem Solahudeen.

A Kwara-based civil society group, the Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD) has alleged that the Kwara State ministry of works and transport inflated the cost of contract for the construction of Ilesha Baruba-Gwanara road in the northern part of the State.

In a statement on Tuesday, the group, known for its #FollowKwaraMoney campaign told Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq that the supervising Ministry of Works inflated the contract sum of Ilesha Baruba – Gwanara road with a sum of Seven Hundred and Fifty-One Million, Five Hundred and Fifty-One Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty-Seven Naira, Twenty-Two Kobo (₦751,551,647:22).

The statement, signed by Mrs. Usman Radhiyyat Taiye, the Deputy Coordinator (Administration) of EnetSud clarified that the project was inherited from the last administration of Abdulfatah Ahmed.

“The road contract was originally awarded in 2013 and was subsequently reviewed in 2015, 2017 and again in May 2019 just before the coming of the incumbent administration,” the statement said.

It added, “The present administration re-negotiated the initially-planned surface-dressed road from ₦2,782,716,900.95 approved by the past administration and added ₦265,412,446.50 to make it an asphalt road, arriving at the total contract sum of ₦3,048,129,347.50 approved by the AbdulRahman-led State Executive Council (SEC) in its virtual meeting dated 7th August, 2020, according to the statement signed by the Honourable Commissioner for Communications.”

Referring to an earlier letter signed by its Coordinator, Dr. Alagbonsi Abdullateef and submitted to the Governor through the SSA Monitoring and Evaluation on 10th November, 2020, ENetSuD said it communcated that its preliminary assessments indicated that “the approved BEME for the project (which was made available to us by your Focal Person, SSA Monitoring and Evaluation) is grossly incorrect as the contract sum has been inflated by Seven Hundred and Fifty-One Million, Five Hundred and Fifty-One Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty-Seven Naira, Twenty-Two kobo (₦751,551,647:22).

“This means that the correct contract sum as per the quantity and rates approved in the BEME for all the items is supposed to be Two Billion, Two Hundred and Ninety-Six Million, Five Hundred and Seventy-Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred Naira, Twenty-Eight kobo (₦2,296,577,700.28).

“ENetSuD prayed the Governor to ensure the re-consideration of the project BEME and re-approval of the correct contract sum (₦2,296,577,700.28) by the SEC. ENetSuD also advised the Governor to use the excess of ₦751,551,647:22 for another priority project in the State.

Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq had, in a bid to prove the transparency of his administration, initiated a social audit which gives interested civil society organizations the opportunity to monitor the process of delivering contracts executed with public funds. The Ilesha Baruba – Gwanara road is one of the six (6) projects in the first cohort that ENetSuD is assessing through the Kwara social audit initiative.

However, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye has countered the claim of a project inflation by the present government in Kwara, reiterating that “the contract inflation mentioned in the EnetSud report did not happen under this administration.”

He explained further, “We inherited that project which was initially awarded in 2013, then reviewed upward in 2015, again upward in 2017, and again in May 2019 just before we came on board. The upward review is said to be as a result of inflation. We found it questionable.

“As at the time we came, that road project had been reviewed to N2.7bn, up from N1.5bn in 2013 when it was first awarded. There were two notable sad realities about it: 33km road project was awarded as surface-dressing at a whopping N2.7bn! The other reality was that over 60 percent of the contract sums had been paid while less than 30 percent of the job had been done as at May 29, 2019! It was a satanic development. That was why the EFCC saw to the matter.

“When we came on board, the Governor was confronted with a catch-22 situation regarding the road. If we ask the contractor to hand off the road, the people and the govt will lose more. What do we do? The govt insisted we cannot do 33km surface dressing road for N2.7bn!!! Instead, we negotiated that the road be converted to asphalt overlay with an addition of just N265m. It was that N265m that the cabinet approved on August 7, 2020.

“Ordinarily, converting the road to asphalt from surface dressing may gulp nearly N1bn more but the Governor said we can’t pay more and the road must be done. The contractor had the option of doing it or facing another unpleasant realities: the EFCC.

“So, both parties (govt and the contractor) settled for asphalt overlay of the entire stretch of the road with just N265m addition to the total contract sum (N2.7bn). That is a win for the state and the people who need that road so badly.

“So, in summary, the contract inflation mentioned in the Enetsud report did not happen under this administration. Rather, this administration ensured that nobody got away with such troubling “crime” against the state and the people. That is being pragmatic.

“Of course, we would rather Enetsud properly situate this background but we fully understand that they don’t want to come across as being political or targeting any specific administration. That is why this clarification becomes necessary.”

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