BY SALIHU DANTATA MAHMUD
There is no doubt that the former Lagos State Governor appointed Works, Power and Housing Minister in 2015 by the Buhari administration, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has brought to bear his vast experience in the ministry. Since his inception, certain decisions have being taken in the interest of the generality of Nigerians but not without some saboteurs in the ministry and administrative bottlenecks who have over time being architects of conversion of ideas, initiatives and concepts meant for national development and humanitarian benefits to their personal use. A clear case is that of the Lagos/Abuja Super Highway Project idea presented to the ministry by an indigenous company, name withheld, when it was due for the appointment of the proponents of the project, it was surprisingly given to a Chinese Company in connivance with some corrupt ministry officials particularly, the Public Private Partnership (PPP) department which is the sole unit responsible for all private sector driven government initiated projects after some money exchanged hands as alleged by some insiders.
While the Minister is busy ensuring that the Country gets all the best in terms of project execution, some corrupt officials of the ministry are busy making field day through making money from corrupt sources. It has been insinuated that the same Chinese Company turned down the execution of road projects from Asokoro – Keffi, Keffi – Langtang, and Lantang – Jos respectively, which would have eased the hardships been faced by motorists from this areas that sometimes experience gridlocks.
The indigenous Nigerian Company offered to undertake on the corridor project, ninety percent at its funding and only ten percent at the government side. The issues that raises concerns are:
How did the Chinese Company qualify?
Was the corridor project advertized in accordance with provision of Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Law that requires open competition, bidding and participation after publication in some National Dailies?
Did the proposal of the Chinese Company comprise of the nature of the award the Ministry gave to it?
The AEC appointed as the Consultant of the project played a double standard role as the same AEC at one time pretended to be serving under the authority of the Ministry as if they were also part of the Ministry.
Above all, the conspiracy which deprived the indigenous company in favor of the foreign company is such that is capable of denting the good image of the Buhari administration both at home and abroad especially when the aggrieved parties decide to go to Court or embark on any other alternative to fight for their right. There are evidenced information about the indigenous company to have been the custodians of the concept, intellectual property and project development.
The fact remains that in any Country where many indigenous companies are battling to survive, encouragement is at minimal level in terms of giving them recognition via awarding of projects that could enable them live and sustain over time. The President’s Anti Corruption Crusade is gathering momentum but it appears some unscrupulous elements are trying to scuttle it by all means unmindful of the Presidential Election in the corner.
The APC administration of Muhammadu Buhari need to monitor how certain contracts are awarded in many government ministries, parastatals and agencies. There are also allegations that some Presidency officials are neck deep in facilitation of contract awards. The case of the Works Ministry is made a case study considering the sensitivity of the Ministry.
The indigenous company conceived the idea over fifteen years ago in order to ease hurdles faced by passengers who avoid road travels from Lagos – Abuja due to the dilapidated nature of the roads. The five single lanes to be tolled on motorists plying the road by the company could reduce the traffic at the Lagos Airport as many air travelers could get alternatives to air travel which is sometimes hazardous. Anyone that is familiar with the workings in many Federal Ministries knows that corruption amongst some civil servants is an understatement as some of them see kickbacks as their birth rights.
For any capital project to be awarded, certain underground exchange either in monetary terms or material gifts occurs, no matter how brilliant an idea is sometimes they are thwarted in favor of their benefactors. The Honorable Minister of Works, Power, Land & Housing Babatunde Fashola need to review the Lagos – Abuja Super Highway Project by urgently appointing the indigenous company whose concept, idea and initiative has been converted to the use of the Chinese Company as the proponent of the project in the best interest of Nigerians and the emerging local companies.
Some civil servants are corrupt to the extent that, a politically elected Minister might not exactly know what transfers between some foreign companies and some corrupt ministry officials that evaluate submission of proposals and scrutinizes presentations.
BY SALIHU DANTATA MAHMUD