Nigeria: Special Report - Inside Abandoned, Poorly Executed N6.6bn Constituency Projects in Ekiti

24 November 2018

Although about N6.6 billion was allocated for 160 projects between 2015 and 2018 in various communities in the three senatorial districts and six federal constituencies in Ekiti State by lawmakers, PREMIUM TIMES and UDEME reports the poor execution of these projects and abandonment of others.

After a series of budgetary analyses, and careful review of documents, the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), through its UDEME project determined that the way these sponsored projects were designed from the budget stage, through implementation, is mired in controversy with many 'unclear'.

In the 2015 budget document of constituency projects for Ekiti State, 16 projects estimated to cost N783 million has only four projects with unambiguous descriptions. PTCIJ and UDEME observed that 12 of these 16 projects are tagged "strategic empowerment, vocational training, etc. meant for various communities in Ekiti." The language is so abstract that one finds it difficult to understand the purpose, a review shows.

The trend did not stop that year as only about 30 of 65 different projects for the sum of N3.1 billion in 2016 have clear descriptions and locations.

Examples of such projects in that year include a N155 million allocation for the construction of solar powered boreholes spread across rural communities in Ekiti South Senatorial District. Particularly confusing is the allocation of N148 million for unquantifiable "training and capacity building programme in Ekiti Central Senatorial District".

In 2017, N3 billion was allocated for 80 projects spread across constituencies in Ekiti State but in the usual manner, only 25 projects have clear descriptions with another N1 billion for 30 projects tagged "Strategic Empowerment and Training of Youths/Women" in various communities in Ekiti State.

Apart from documents review and data analyses, months of rigorous field reporting revealed how public funds were expended on poorly-executed, uncompleted and abandoned projects across communities in Ekiti State.

Located on a highest elevation in the Irepodun /Ifelodun LGA of Ekiti State, the PHC in Iropora has been ababdoned since 2015. Iropora Primary Health Centre looks like a poultry farm as materials used for the abandoned construction are left to lie in ruins.

Members of the community (a population of over 10,000) who spoke with this reporter narrated how joyous they were four years ago when the foundation of a community healthcentre was laid.

The constituency project was nominated by the lawmaker representing Ado Ekiti/Irepodun/Ifelodun Federal Constituency of Ekiti State at the lower chambers of the National Assembly under the supervision of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).

Having survived for years with only one PHC, their hope for a better facility dissolved as the project funded in the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project of the National Assembly for N12 million remains dilapidated four years after.

The Oniropora of Iropora Ekiti, Joel Olonibua, expressed displeasure about the bad state of the healthcare centre.

"This project you just talked about reminded me of like four years ago when we released the land for government so they can help build a community healthcare centre for the benefit of the community.

"The project has remained uncompleted, let me even say abandoned since then. The building started about four years ago, but cannot be completed before the last legislative house expired. So the project has been abandoned since then," he said.

Oniropora of Iropora

He said the abandonment has caused harm as residents go to Ido Ekiti, or Ado Ekiti for healthcare.

Another resident who identified himself as Rilwan Sanusi corroborated the monarch's account. He however said: "We call on the government to come to our rescue and complete the abandoned health care centre."

The only alternative PHC in the community had only one staffer on duty when PREMIUM TIMES visited.

The lady who spoke under the condition of anonymity said: "we don't have adequate staff. Like now, I'm the only one around. If there's emergency, I will have to call colleagues who are not on morning duty to come and help. We have a matron, but she's not in town, we don't have a pharmacist and so it has affected our work really."

The only healthcare centre in Iropora

The only healthcare centre in Iropora

"The guard we had in the past was killed by armed robbers sometime in 2014. Since then, we haven't had another. And you know, we need security guards so we can work without fear or panic," she added.

The same sad scenario was obtainable at the Igede Ekiti PHC as construction of its primary healthcare centre whose funding was appropriated in the 2015 has been abandoned and turned into an uncompleted building.

At the site of the project, it was difficult walking through as the multi-million naira project had been abandoned for years and is outgrown by grasses. At one point, this reporter was unsure if there were no wild animals domiciled there. N12 million was appropriated for the project.

Members of the community say the only available healthcare facility for them is a privately-owned hospital that is expensive to patronise.

When this reporter visited the palace of the Onigede of Igede Ekiti, a domestic staffer expressed disappointment over how the facility was abandoned.

UDEME can authoritatively report that in the 2015 zonal intervention project budget, N24 million was appropriated for the construction of two primary health care centres in Igede Ekiti and Iropora Ekiti to be implemented by NPHCDA.

The state of the two projects confirmed work indeed started but was later abandoned.

Abandoned Igede healthcare centre

Interestingly, despite the abandoned state of the two projects, there was another N12 million budgetary allocation provided for the completion of the primary healthcare centre located in Igede Ekiti.

NPHCDA Keeps Mum

Official documents obtained by this newspaper shows that N986.2 million was released to the NPHCDA for the implementation of 33 constituency projects captured in the 2015 Zonal Intervention Projects.

It was also discovered that out of the 33 projects in 2015, N24 million was appropriated for health centres located in Iropora Ekiti, along Osi road, Irepodun/Ifelodun lga, Igede Ekiti, and Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA.

Further analysis revealed that in 2016, N3.7 billion was appropriated for 77 constituency projects spread across various communities, out of which N12 million was voted for the completion of primary health centre located in Igede Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA making an additional N12 million appropriated in 2016.

The agency also collected N932 million for the implementation of constituency projects in 2015 and N2.9 billion in 2016, a document from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation revealed.

This reporter had in April 23rd written to the NPHCDA to request for details of contracts approved and awarded for implementation of constituency projects in Ekiti State with a clear mention of the construction of primary healthcare centres located in Iropora Ekiti and Igede Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA, Ekiti.

For over two months, the agency did not respond to the Freedom of Information request.

On June 14, this reporter sent another letter to NPHCDA to request again but was denied.

However, a top official of the agency who does not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak said the agency "has read publications on such projects before". It is unclear what he meant.

Recently, the chief executive of the agency, Faisal Shuaib visited the Senate, where he brought the attention of the lawmakers to such abandoned projects not only in Ekiti but various parts of the country.

"Such abandoned projects, as reported in the media, have been compiled and reasons behind them (abandonment): the initiator no longer (being) in the National Assembly, and appropriations no longer made to complete such projects etc. All those reasons, we need to maybe find a way, like a law, where there will be special push to complete such projects.

"So it is not on our own table, it is a question of the funds, those returned to the government at the end of the year as they normally say," he had said.

"The agency has compiled list of abandoned projects and referred it to the National Assembly and the appropriate authority to take a look at it. Several times too we have been to the executive, the ICPC. They have made case(s) to the executive on what needs to be done," he said.

Not My Fault- Lawmaker

Sunday Oladimeji, the lawmaker representing Ado Ekiti/Irepodun/Ifelodun Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives dodged taking responsibilities for the abandoned healthcare centre in Igede and Iropora Ekiti when contacted.

"That first project you mentioned (Igede) was part of the project from the person I took over from. When I came onboard as lawmaker in 2015, the thing was done up to roofing level but no money was paid to the contractor. Then in my 2017 project, I facilitated allocation of a fresh N12 million to that project.

"When I did that, at a point about N1.5 million was released to the contractor which made him to take it up to where it is now. Now, partly from the contractor, partly from the agency, the project was frustrated, that is the way I will put it.

"So, it was not originally my project, but because I don't want it to be an abandoned project, that is why I ensured its completion was captured in the 2016 budget, and the money again was wasted, which could have been used for something else.'

"For the project at Iropora, I am sure that you have seen that part of it was painted, it was part of the ones we met on ground. So, you can imagine how buildings were not even roofed yet, somebody went to paint part of it.

"I cannot blame anybody for whatever plan he has, but if you look at Iropora, they already have a primary healthcare centre, like a comprehensive health centre. Ordinarily, there was no need for that new health centre since it is a small community, but since the lawmaker sponsored the construction of a new one in the first place, it's the responsibility of the implementing agency to ensure such projects aren't abandoned. Letters I have written in the past to NPHCDA were not replied.

The former lawmaker, Opeyemi Bamidele, could however not be reached despite efforts by this newspaper. He was recently shot in Ado-Ekiti, during the a political rally and is reportedly recuperating.

Ilogbo Ekiti Road Impassable Despite N90 Million Appropriation

Despite N90 million appropriated in 2017 zonal intervention projects for Ilogbo Ekiti, one of the communities in Ido/Osi, Moba/Ilejeme Federal Constituency for rehabilitation of the road from Water junction to Adiatu junction in Ilogbo Ekiti to be implemented by Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA), the road still remains impassable.

The Owa of Ilogbo Ekiti

The Owa of Ilogbo Ekiti, E.O Ajayi said majority of residents in community are farmers.

"They take their farm produce to sell in other parts of the town, but it's been difficult for us to connect with other parts of Ekiti since the road has been impassable. It has caused accidents in the past and so, it was a thing of joy when our lawmaker informed us there was budgetary provision for tarring of road here in Ilogbo Ekiti."

"The road from Water junction is in a very bad state, almost impassable, occupied with bushes, it used to be a death-trap and some parts of it have been troubled greatly by erosion. It's been impassable for almost 15 years. When we got information that there is provision for construction of the road, we felt elated, it was the best news at the time.

"When the construction commenced sometime last year, we were full of hope, that once the road is completed, it will create a new life for our people."

The dilapidated road

Residents who spoke with this newspaper expressed dissatisfaction over the state of the road.

Adeyemo Isaac said: "The contractors only told us they are coming back. We are still expecting them because they haven't finished even up to half of what they are supposed to do."

Abu Rasaki said: "We are not sure of the quality of materials used for this road, while they were on the road, even before they leave, the roads had started cracking, I think the contractors need to look into this, we welcome the gesture of our lawmaker that facilitated this project. However, what's worth doing at all is worth doing well".

A signpost to signify construction on a road

Meanwhile, a Freedom of Information letter written to the implementing agency (Border Community Development Agency) to request for details on the project by this newspaper was ignored.

However, one of the engineers in the procurement department of the agency who asked not to be named, said the project was 70 per cent funded in 2017 and that another N100 million has been appropriated for the completion of the project in the 2018 budget.

"Once funds are released, contractors will be back to site. We just finished the bidding process for 2018 project. I am sure contractors will be back to site in the next two weeks," he said.

Also, Kayode Omotosho of the EWAKITTY Nigeria limited, the company executing the project, blamed the slow pace of work on the road on insufficient funds released by the government.

"It is an ongoing project. We only did a small portion for the 2017. It is a two years project, The contract was awarded to us in November 2017 and we worked on the site till May 2018 because full payment was not paid.

"Completion of the project has been captured in the 2018 budget and once funds are released for the 2018 project, we will mobilise back to site and complete it," he said.

Decaying Skills Acquisition Centre In Ilogbo Ekiti

This newspaper observed that the residents have not only been denied good roads, but also a skills acquisition centre in Ilogbo Ekiti which was captured as a constituency projects for Ido/Osi, Moba/Ilejeme Federal Constituency in the 2016 appropriation.

Ajarat Balogun told this newspaper that: "I only saw people working on this project some years ago. I don't know what it is meant for or what purposes it was to serve. As you can see, they have locked it since they completed it, it is only goats that sleep there now, the roofs are falling off already."

The skills acquisition centre in Ilogbo-Ekiti

"The project has been completed and commissioned since last year but it has not been put to use. We already have hairdressing machines, carpentry tools, tailoring machine and welding materials. The facility will be used for four or five sets of skills that different people will be trained on.

"We are working to ensure we engage instructors who will at the end of the day, train our young people on entrepreneurship/vocational skills. We are mostly farmers but there is no vocation that is not in town. We are not happy the centre has been locked since."

The skills acquisition centre in Ilogbo-Ekiti

Meanwhile, the lawmaker representing Ido/Osi, Moba/Ilejeme Federal Constituency, Thadeus Aina Akinola, refused to answer calls put through to his line. He also did not respond to text messages on the subject.

Ray Of Hope: N45 Million Power Project Implemented In Ode Ekiti

Unlike other abandoned projects, residents of Ode Ekiti expressed their satisfaction over the implementation of the N45 million project for the extension of 9.3 km 33KV line from Ijesa Isu to Ode Ekiti.

"In this community, for over four years, this whole town was in darkness. We connected to Imuo Ekiti, close to Kogi State. Despite the connection, electricity in this town was off the radar for many years. There was another time we connected from Ondo State, it was around 2014. The darkness in the whole town of Ode Ekiti prompted the intervention from our lawmaker to help facilitate the transmission from Ijesa Isu to Ode Ekiti. The transmission covered the over 9 km road from where the line was connected from," Ogunseeyin, the elated of Onigede of Ode says.

He said the community's condition has improved though with slight challenges.

"Well, you know electricity in this country is bad generally, we have light for interval of days. For instance, for four days, we have not gotten light. And like you know, a community without electricity will not fare better. It will be waking and sleeping in darkness, In the past while we had no light for years, a lot of small businesses collapsed, those who relied on electricity to do businesses had to close shop.

"It was always difficult to power our mobile devices, for years, living in this town was like hell. Only few who can afford generators enjoyed electricity and it cost almost all their savings per month," he recalled.

Ayeni Mujeeb, a resident also expressed joy.

"At least, the intention of the government is to eradicate darkness in this town, and we are most grateful that the goal has been achieved, while we still hope it can get better," he says excitedly.

"For the past four days now, we have had no light here. But we are rest assured that whenever there is light in the neighbouring town, we will also have in this town, so all we crave for is for a general improvement in power generation in the country," he adds.

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