In clear violation of a law, the National Assembly inserted capital projects valued at N812.4 million in the 2018 budget of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA).
The agency is executing these projects, which are against the law that established the agency but has abandoned many valued at billions of naira which are part of its core functions.
The inserted projects, which constituted 30.32 per cent of the agency’s N2.7 billion (N2,678,990,744) budget approved for construction and provision of fixed assets for the year, were also sited outside its riparian states of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Osun.
Some of the projects include road constructions, street lighting, equipping and furnishing of town halls, and women and youth empowerment.
These illegal projects have been traced to Patigi in Kwara State, an area that is under the authority of the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority.
Patigi, in Kwara North senatorial district, is the hometown of a former member of the House of Representatives, Aliyu Pategi.
Mr Pategi, who represented Edu/Mopa/Moro federal constituency, was the chairman, house committee on water resources until 2019. His committee was responsible for the vetting of the agency’s budgetary proposals and many of the inserted projects are his constituency projects.
This newspaper also confirmed that some of these projects have been recurrent in the agency’s budgets since 2015, coinciding with the tenure of Mr Pategi as the committee’s chair.
The Managing Director of OORBDA, Olufemi Odumosu, claimed that as an agency of the federal government, it is empowered to execute projects “anywhere in Nigeria.”
However, Mr Odumosu’s position clearly contradicts relevant provisions of the law establishing his agency, which restricts each of the 12 river basin development authorities in the country to their riparian states.
The River Basin Development Authorities Act states in Section 1 of the First Schedule, Subsection 2, that “each authority shall operate within the area specified in column 2 of the first schedule to this Act and have its headquarters in the location specified in column 3 of the said schedule.”
In the said column 2 of the Act, OORBDA is listed to function within the states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun States with its headquarters sited in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
Section 4 of the Act lists other functions of the Authorities under Subsection 1 (a-e) to also include; “To construct, operate and maintain dams, dykes, polders, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems, and other works necessary for the achievement of the Authority’s functions and hand over all lands to be cultivated under the irrigation scheme to the farmers; (c) to supply water from the Authority’s completed storage schemes to all users for a fee to be determined by the Authority concerned, with the approval of the Minister;
“To construct, operate and maintain infrastructural services such as roads and bridges linking project sites: provided that such infrastructural services are included and form an integral part of the list of approved projects.”
Based on the Act, it is clear that funds appropriated to individual authorities are meant for the development of water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental management in the riparian states.
However, while these illegalities continued at OORBDA, there are loads of abandoned legitimate projects across various communities within the four states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Lagos.
Inside some abandoned projects
Ijeja, Oke-Oko, Adiyan and Orudu-Agira are some of the ‘neglected’ communities in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State. They lack basic amenities such as good roads, electricity, and potable water.
In 2010, these communities received with joy the news of the award of contract for the Agbado-Isoye Water Scheme by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources through OORBDA.
Engineering experts had recommended Ijeja, a nascent community, as the project’s site.
Lateef Salami, a welder, was one of the owners of the large parcel of land selected for the project, all of whom agreed to relocate to an alternative area provided by the community.
“We were paid token compensations and we moved to the new area provided for us by the community to start building our new houses,” Mr Salami told PREMIUM TIMES.
But since 2014, four years after its award, the project has not been properly funded by the government. Findings by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that out of the N540 million contract sum, only N200 million has been released to the contractor.
When contacted by our reporter, the management of OORBDA did not give the budgetary details of the contract but said the project was 54.37 per cent complete.
This reporter spent hours on a motorbike traversing Oke-Aro, Agbado and Adiyan before finding the abandoned project site.
Mr Salami, whose workshop is opposite the site, said the communities had been waiting for more than six years for the completion of the project.
“The big reservoir is already constructed, the transformer installed, the generator was also installed. But all these are now in ruins,” he said, adding that he spends an average of N3,000 on water every week.
Also expressing frustration, a generator repairer and resident of the community, Jimoh Bakare, who said he just relocated from Agege to his new house at Oke-Oko, described his experience since arriving in the community as “very hard.”
Mr Bakare said; “Is it the frustrating issue of roads, water or even light that we would say or what? But for the rent in Agege, I would not have moved in here with my family. And I cannot afford to be moving from here to Agege every day.”
In a telephone interview with our reporter, Semiu Kukoyi, the founder of OHARA Construction Company Limited, the company executing the contract, expressed frustration over the project. He said the company was already burdened by the accruing interests on loans taken from financial institutions to take the project to its current status.
“The facilities installed are already decaying, inflation has since shot costs up, and the exchange rate is now more than triple the 2010 rate. So for anything to be done, there must be a variable cost which could double the initial award cost,” Mr Kukoyi, a chief in Ogun State, said.
Igbojaye Earth Dam: 92% completed on paper, zero on ground
In its response to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for details on the abandoned projects, the management of OORBDA gave the status of an ongoing dam project located at Igbojaye in Itesiwaju Local Government Area of Oyo State as 92 per cent completed. But there was no dam anywhere near the given location.
The OORBDA’s letter which is referenced OORBDA/S/583/T/3 and dated April 4, 2019, said the project was awarded to River Plates Engineering Nigerian Limited.
Owners of farms within the location, however, told our reporter that the contractor ‘ran’ away from the site in 2018 when the river overflew its banks and swept away work already done.
“As you can see, this side has been completely cut off from the other side. We had access to the flowing river before now for our farm projects, but as you can see, it has now completely collapsed,” said Dele Gbolagade, a retiree who owns a farm in the area.
An official of OORBDA, who monitors the agency’s cashew plantation within the area, Hammed Omoniyi, said he could not comment on the matter and directed our reporter to the agency’s headquarters.
Mr Omoniyi, however, confirmed the collapse of the dam and the abandonment of the project.
Speaking further on the damage done to the community through the project, Mr Gbolagade said the new development has given free access to grazing cattle to destroy their farms.
“You can see them up there. Those cattle rearers would bring the cattle into our farms in the middle of the night and they will eat everything before daybreak. Even night guards are no longer capable of protecting our crops,” Mr Gbolagade added.
Asa Earth Dam and Water Scheme
The story is the same at Iwofin, a village near Ogbomoso in Surulere Local Government Area of Oyo State, where an abandoned earth dam and water scheme project has damaged farmlands.
Awarded to multiple contractors at an unknown cost, the abandonment of the dam and water scheme project once led to the flooding of major farms within and around the location of the projects.
According to OORBDA, the project for the construction of the dam was awarded to Kingswood Engineering Limited with the completion rate valued at 20 per cent as of 2019. The provision and installation of irrigation facilities were awarded to Dizengoff (W.A) Limited while the water supply scheme was awarded to Sabbyn Nigeria Limited.
The agency said though only a paltry N2.5 million has been released to Sabbyn Nigeria Limited, the percentage of completion of the water supply level was put at 43 per cent, with the irrigation project handled by Dizengoff Limited said to have been completed.
Though the agency could not reveal the total contract sum, it said some of the contractors have not been funded since 2014.
Further investigations by PREMIUM TIMES, however, revealed that out of more than N400 million owed Kingswood Nigeria Limited, only N30 million was paid to the contractor in 2018.
The water supply project being handled by Sabbyn Nigeria Limited was last funded in 2014, with N360 million outstanding.
A prince in the community, Olayode Olaniran, described the abandoned projects as deathtraps. Mr Olaniran said the project has made a large expanse of farmland inaccessible.
“We had high hopes when they started the work but as you can see, everything is scattered now. We have lost hope. Our appeal is only that if they can’t continue with the projects, they should cover all the dug surfaces.”
The managing director of Sabbyn Nigeria Limited, Yomi Collins, declined to comment on the matter on the pages of newspapers. He, however, challenged the media to investigate abandoned projects within the OORBDA’s riparian states.
Patigi as agency’s new bride
It was a bumpier ride through a long-abandoned road to Patigi in Kwara State as the major road linking the ancient Nupe town to adjoining communities has suffered from long years of erosion, creating large portholes and craters.
According to Uba Ahman-Pategi, a relation of the former lawmaker, who conducted our reporter round some of the construction works executed in Patigi by OORBDA, Nnagilae-Gboko road is a roughly two-kilometre stretch that is named after Mr. Pategi’s mother.
The project, which had repeatedly appeared in the OORBDA’s budget since 2015, was yet to be fully completed as of May, 2019. But OORBDA said it was 100 per cent completed. It added that the contract for the road was awarded at N83 million (N82,981,126.26).
The agency listed other projects executed in Patigi to include construction of drainage, flood and erosion control works at Tswanyan/Jimada Road and a similar erosion and road construction project at Lazhiyisa/Kotonkomu Road. The two projects, according to Mr Odumosu, were executed at the sum of N174 million.
The Lazhiyisa/Kotonkomu road is a street that passes through Mr Pategi’s family compound, said Mr Ahman-Pategi.
“Here is also the hospital-mortuary road that is being rehabilitated by Ogun-Osun people,” he said, pointing at another project that was ongoing. The signpost at the project site listed Mr Pategi as the facilitator.
Other projects totaling N812.4 million that were inserted into the agency’s 2018 budget can be seen in the table below:
|252045001||OGUN/ OSUN RBDA|
|ERGP1108994||Construction of Flood and Erosion Control Works at Lazhiyisa/Kotonkomu Road||ONGOING||800000|
|ERGP19108996||Construction of Drainage, Flood And Erosion Control Works at Nnagilayi/Gboke Roads||ONGOING||800000|
|ERGP19108999||Construction of Drainage, Flood And Erosion Control Works at Tswanyan/Jimada Roads||ONGOING||800000|
|ERGP445002786||Training And Empowerment of Youths in Isale Babanla||NEW||160000000|
|ERGP445002788||Construction of Concrete Drainage and Asphalt Road in Unity Layout GRA II, Kamanu||NEW||100000000|
|ERGP445002789||Construction of Road and Asphalt Drainages in GRA Maselu Town||NEW||70000000|
|ERGP445002790||Provision Of Solar Street Lights at the Yikpata NYSC Camp, Kwara State.||NEW||60000000|
|ERGP445002791||Provision and Installation of Solar Street Lights and Transformers Across Akinrinde and Igbona South Community.||NEW||200000000|
|ERGP69002442||Rehabilitation of Hospital Mortuary Road, Patigi||NEW||40000000|
|ERGP69002443||Rehabilitation of Area Court Wayata Road, Patigi||NEW||60000000|
|ERGP69002444||Rehabilitation of Chief Imam Road, Patigi (700m)||NEW||40000000|
|ERGP69002445||Rehabilitation of Chayakyagi Road, Patigi||NEW||40000000|
|ERGP69002485||Construction of motorised boreholes at Bangi, Kodo Madangen & Babanrami||NEW||40000000|
Findings further revealed that some of the injected projects had consistently been appearing in the budgets of OORBDA since 2014.
For instance, in the 2014 to 2018 appropriation Acts, the projects of the construction of drainage, flood and erosion control works at Tswanyan/Jimada road, Nnagilayi/Gboke road and Lazhiyisa/Kotonkomu roads, all in Patigi, consistently appeared among OORBDA budgets.
In 2017, a total of N140 million was earmarked for the three projects; N135 million in 2016; N90 million in 2015 and about N38 million for various other projects in 2014.
In the agency’s 2018 appropriation, another sum of N600 million was allocated for various projects such as street lighting and youth and women empowerment, among others.
Agency defends action
The managing director of OORBDA, Mr Odumosu, insisted that the law permits it to execute projects anywhere within Nigeria’s territorial borderline.
Mr Odumosu said rather than blame the agency, all accusations should be directed at the lawmakers, who he noted: “put the projects in my budget.”
“Or is it only Ogun Osun that goes outside its riparian states to do projects or why are you investigating me?” he snapped at our reporter on the phone.
Also, in a response to a follow-up letter to an earlier request made by our reporter under the Freedom of Information (FoI) law, the agency said the reporter’s request for further clarifications on the legality of executing projects outside the riparian states are “being more of an investigative journalism which is beyond Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.” The agency is yet to explain what it means by this.
Mr Pategi keeps mum
All efforts to get the reaction of the man in the eye of the storm, Mr Pategi, were unsuccessful. Many short messages sent to his mobile line and via his WhatsApp were not replied many months after. He also did not pick his calls.
But Mr Pategi is not strange to controversies. He was in June, 2017, remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following his failure to produce in court his wife and former minister of state for the federal capital territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide.
Mr Pategi had stood surety for the ex-minister in a money laundering trial when she was granted bail in 2016.
Mrs Akinjide is facing trial at a federal high court on a 24-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N650 million.
This story was sponsored by Tiger Eye Foundation with support from MacArthur Foundation.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999