The Edo State Government has “revoked” a local road construction work in the state handled by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture And Rural Development after a viral video exposed the poor quality of the project.
The road, identified as Lawani Crescent Road, is in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of the state.
The contractor’s name is Royal Jeff Nig Ltd.
In the clip, a man who is a resident of the area showed how the drainage on the road was built with only concrete, without reinforcement steel to strengthen it.
With just his bare hand, the man effortlessly chopped off the concrete walls and peeled off the asphalt from the road to demonstrate that the construction work was substandard.
“Dem they ever do road wey the drainage go stop for dead end? Na our community be dis, which kind rubbish be this? If we see wetin no good, we go talk-am.
“Dat rubbish wey dem dey always talk say half bread is better than none na him kill Nigeria come reach today so,” the man, who was visibly angry, said in Pidgin English.
The road contract was awarded as a “constituency project” sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason, who is from Edo.
The Deputy Governor of Edo, Philip Shaibu who inspected the scandalous project on Tuesday declared that it was substandard.
Mr Shaibu said Governor Godwin Obaseki had directed a state agency to take over the road rehabilitation.
The governor, according to Mr Shaibu, thanked the whistleblower for raising the alarm over the shoddy work.
“The contractor handling this project must be arrested for the bad job done and handed over to ICPC and the EFCC, alongside the honourable member representing the people of the area.
“This is to enable us to ascertain what happened.
“When the government is doing anything for you, please take charge of it,” said Mr Shaibu who was accompanied by a divisional police officer and some community leaders.
Nigeria’s federal lawyers over the years have been using the guise of constituency projects to steal billions of public funds.
The extent of the lawmaker, Mr Akpatason’s, involvement in the execution of the Lawani Crescent Road project is unclear, for now.
The scandal has brought to the fore the contentious issue of how federal agencies bypass state government to execute infrastructural projects in states, something several governors in the South-south have complained in the past about the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Governor Obaseki said Mr Akpatason did not inform the state government about the project said to be a part of N360 million allocated for constituency projects in Akoko-Edo.
‘That job is not that bad!’
The lawmaker, Mr Akpatason issued a statement on Monday, saying he was “very embarrassed by the disturbing allegations” about the project.
He asked the government department which awarded the contract to investigate the scandal and report back to him within 24 hours.
The department had visited the project site on Tuesday but they were yet to brief him, Mr Akpatason told PREMIUM TIMES, Wednesday evening.
The lawmaker who is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, however, attributed the scandal to the “politics” in Edo.
“Everything that is happening there is politics, that job is not that bad,” he told PREMIUM TIMES, apparently referring to the deputy governor, Mr Shaibu’s visit to the project site.
He said the portion of the road captured in the “disturbing” clip was not part of the 300 km road that was being rehabilitated by Royal Jeff Nig Ltd.
“Where that guy went to do that thing is not part of the contract, but I am not the one to say this because I am not the contractor. This is what he (the contractor) told us. He showed us the extent of his own job, this (the shoddy job) was a community effort.”
PREMIUM TIMES told the lawmaker the concern raised by the Edo government that he did not inform the state government about the project, at least to enhance proper monitoring.
“Does the federal government owe the state government such duty?” Mr Akpatason responded.
He said it was not the practice for federal lawmakers to report to the state government about projects they were facilitating for their constituency.
Reaction from Royal Jeff Nig Ltd
Meanwhile, Royal Jeff Nig Ltd, a civil engineering company which claimed to have an office in Abuja, was registered with Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in 2014 as a private company limited by shares.
The company’s only two directors are Chinedu Okanotu and Ifeoma Okanotu, according to the filing at the CAC.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the company’s Managing Director, Chinedu Okanotu, Wednesday evening, for his comment, he retorted that the man who did the viral video was “under the influence of alcohol”.
Mr Okanotu refused to speak further on the issue when asked to explain what he meant by “under the influence of alcohol”.
“We will be having a press conference in Benin,” he said to this newspaper, and then ended the call abruptly.
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