An estimated 11, 886 federal government projects were abandoned in the past 40 years across the country, Founder of the Africa Diaspora Research in Charis Complex, Centurion, South Africa, Professor Kole Omotoso, has said.
The university don, who quoted this from the report of the abandoned Projects Audit Commission set up by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, stated this while delivering the Federal University of Technology, Akure’s 24th Convocation Lecture titled, ‘Technology and Human Development’
He said lack of a functional steel complex anywhere in the country would make it impossible for Nigeria to achieve any meaningful technological growth before year 2020.
Mr. Omotoso, an expert in Comparative Literature, identified corruption as the major cause of Nigeria’s backwardness in technological development.
Mr. Omotosho lamented the abandonment of the multi-billion dollar Ajaokuta Steel Complex and other federal government owned steel firms across the country as a result of sharp practices by corrupt leaders.
His words, “In 1979, the federal Government of Nigeria under General Olusegun Obasanjo, signed a global contract that was opened to bidders from the whole world. The leaders believed then that without a functional steel industry, there can be no industrialization and no material with which to build infrastructure.
“The contract was signed with TyajzPromExport of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the establishment of the Ajaokuta Steel project. The date of completion was 1986 but it was never completed till date due to policy inconsistencies and massive project corruption for which no one was ever punished.”
Mr. Omotoso explained that the project was abandoned “after it had become one of the bottomless drain pipes of the national coffers.”
He said former President Ibrahim Babangida reviewed the project in 1986 and signed a new contract with the same Soviet firm, the TPE, which started it in 1979 with a new completion date of 1989.
He explained further that the project was also later abandoned when it was 99 percent completed and that no reason was given for its abandonment till date.
He said, “In all, Nigeria spent $5bn on the Ajaokuta Steel Complex project which was supposed to cost $650m.
“Nigeria was listed as the 41st steel producing nation in the world and by 2010; the country was no longer listed at all as a steel producing nation.
“During those years of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex project saga, Nigeria spent N2.1 trillion on the importation of steel products into the country.
“During the same period, the TPE had successfully completed on schedule, steel complex projects for various countries working towards industrialization and infrastructure building around the world including China, South Korea and Brazil,” he added.
Mr. Omotoso described the abandonment of the Ajaokuta steel firm project as “the most spectacular project abandonment among thousands of abandoned projects in Nigeria.”
He cited the case of a contract for the construction and equipping of a Federal Medical Centre in Ohambele community allegedly awarded to former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, in 2002.
He said the project, which was published by the Niger Delta Professionals for Development, Effurun, in Delta State in its Citizen Score Card publication, revealed that the project was not executed at all.
“On paper, however, it seems the project has been completed because when it reached the stage of supplying equipment and drugs, they were supplied and it was kept in the former Senate President’s house up till today,” he added.
Mr. Omotoso said the Nigerian Ports Authority also revealed six months ago that there were 500 containers which contained materials for various abandoned federal government projects across the country.
He submitted that Nigeria’s hope of becoming a technologically developed country would remain a mirage if corruption were not immediately addressed.