…Kebbi tops in capital projects execution
…Bauchi leads in constituency projects
…Abysmal performance by many Southern states
BY STEPHEN GBADAMOSI
A whopping N8.6billion paid to 26 contractors for 19 projects in nine States in the country developed wings.
A fiscal scrutiny showed that the jobs were either not done at all or were abandoned, after the contractors collected money.
The X-ray was contained in a report by Tracka, BudgIT’s service delivery promotion platform, which allows citizens to collaborate, track, and give feedback on public projects in their communities.
Information obtained from its site indicates that non-governmental organization (NGO) BudgIT describes itself as a group that ”provides in-depth financial reports on country budgets helping citizens understand where their country’s money is being spent and where improvements could be made.”
According to a statement by Head of BudgIT Tracka, Ayomide Ladipo, yesterday, “some of these projects include the payment of N542 million to Abu-Halawa International Limited between December 2020 and April 2023 under the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for the construction of Jare Earth Dam in Katsina. Nothing has been done on the site to date.
”The payment of N630 million was made to Babar Global Services Nigeria Ltd and Foundation Solid (Nig) Ltd between July 2022 and September 2023 under the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for the construction of the Ogbese Multi-Purpose Dam Project, Ekiti. This site has been abandoned since 2021.
“And there was a payment of N400 million to Laralek Ultimate Ltd in March 2023 under the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for the limited rehabilitation of Opo Malu road, Saki, Oyo State. The contractor for this site has never reported to the site to date.”
These and other payments for non-executed projects were uncovered in BudgIT 2022 project tracking report themed ‘Empowering Communities for Economic Growth’.
The report reviewed Tracka’s work and documents findings from some 3,691 projects monitored across 22 states in Nigeria between August, 2022 and August, 2023.
Ladipo added: “Of these projects, 2,037 were completed, 1,012 are ongoing, 533 were unexecuted and 109 have been abandoned as of the time of filing this report.”
The report also noted that Kebbi State had the highest rating in completion of projects, while Oyo had the lowest.
It read: “Under capital projects, Kebbi had the highest completion rate at 76 per cent, Oyo had the lowest at 25 per cent and Taraba had the highest rate of abandoned projects at 27 per cent.
“Regarding constituency projects, Bauchi had the highest completion rate with 97 per cent, Oyo had the lowest with 28 per cent, while Nasarawa, with 23 per cent, had the highest rate of abandoned projects.
“The report also gives an overview of the implementation of 2022 constituency and capital projects across 15 states and highlights pertinent needs and abandoned projects across them.”
BudgIT’s Country Director, Gabriel Okeowo, expressed displeasure over contractors’ non-execution of commissioned projects, saying “despite the clamour for increased allocations to capital expenditure by FG (Federal Government) and sub-nationals, our tracking exercise has revealed that capital projects are the largest conduits of embezzlement and misappropriation.
“Lack of effective oversight on the part of the legislators and Ministries, Department and Agencies has largely contributed to the high level of poor project execution and, in some cases, outright abandonment of projects.”
He said “governments at all levels need to take public project execution more seriously, considering the huge infrastructure gaps we are grappling with as a nation.
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”We also hope that the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will find a way to block these loopholes and leakages; if not, our expenditure will amount to pouring water into a basket.”
Okeowo rallied anti-graft agencies (Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC) to question and probe these misappropriations in the 2022 budget expenditures and prosecute erring contractors.
Also, many Southern States fared poorly in capital projects’ completion with a case being made for the need for more intense oversight, recovery of stolen public funds from the projects and punishment for erring contractors and their conspiratorial government officials.