INVESTIGATION: Residents Groan As Government Abandon Road Project In Oyo Community

In Breaking News, Investigation

By Yemi Sodeeq, The Informant 247

In the rugged heartland of Nigeria, where life is set by the sowing and reaping of the land, Yusuf Audu, a weathered farmer in his twilight years, stands as a testament to the tenacity that the earth demands. For seven decades, Yusuf has tilled the soil, each furrow etching a story of resilience and triumph. His gnarled hands have not only nurtured crops but have also nurtured dreams – those of his children, whose education has been financed by the fruits of his labor.

Hailing from the Nasarawa State, Yusuf found his home in the embrace of Igboho, a sun-drenched hamlet where he forged his legacy. His toil, fueled by relentless determination, has borne fruit—four of his sons donning the uniforms of the Nigeria Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), and two others who stand as sentinels in the Nigerian army. Not enough, his remaining two children are determined to get higher education, aiming for the stars.

Journeying to the heartland, this reporter found himself at the crossroads of Oloko, a community a mere six kilometers from Igboho, nestled within the bosom of Oorelope, a local government in Oyo State. Here, Yusuf Audu explains through the tapestry of his life. For three decades, he has treaded the weary path that wends its way toward sustenance. “Three decades,” he mused, “and this has been the unyielding reality—no alternate routes, just endurance.”

Farming, he attested, was not just an occupation, but an existence. “I have no other pursuit,” he affirmed his weathered visage an epitome of a life etched in labor. And in the face of all odds, Yusuf’s harvest has unfailingly yielded the nourishment of knowledge for his progeny. But, the thread of existence runs along the road, a lifeline that links Agbonle, Salu, and Oloko to the heart of Igboho, the epicenter of Oorelope’s governance.

By a twist of fate, this reporter found himself sharing Yusuf’s journey one dusk-laden evening, astride his ancient Bajaj motorcycle. This mechanical steed bore witness to the grit of a farmer’s life, carrying not just the man, but also his sprinkling machines, and tools of sustenance. “My farm rests in Oloko,” Yusuf’s voice quivered with an undertone of weariness, “and this road is a haunting specter in my daily existence. 

From Oloko to Igboho, the distance swallows gallons of fuel. During the rains, it turns into a quagmire, swallowing even the most intrepid vehicles.”

The ordeal doesn’t end at the farm gate. The journey from harvest to market turns into a veritable odyssey, as Yusuf shared with a sense of regret. “Transporting our yield to the market has turned into a Herculean feat. After August, it becomes unviable to venture to the market.” His voice carries the echo of countless farmers who share his plight.

In harmony with Yusuf’s tale, Abdulrasheed Muhammed, another resident of Oloko, paints a vivid picture of the road’s past grandeur. It was, once upon a time, the conduit that linked Ilorin and parts of Oyo State to the heart of Ilesha-Baruba. “This road,” he reminisced, “was a needlepoint of potential. It wove economic prosperity for us, especially during the days when the passage to Ilesha-Baruba pulsed with life.”

But time and neglect have taken their toll. The road, a dormant conduit of dreams, lies abandoned. Oloko’s vibrant market, once a hub of commerce, has withered in the shadow of impassability. “Our market,” Abdulrasheed lamented, “has been silenced. No longer can people traverse from farm to marketplace or carry their wares beyond these boundaries.”

A federal road, a drain of prosperity, abandoned to the elements. The stories of Yusuf and Abdulrasheed mirror the whispers of countless others whose hopes lie imprisoned in the ruts of this forsaken path. The narrative of their lives is a testament to the perseverance of the Nigerian heartland, where the dreams of fathers and the futures of children are inexorably tied to the twists and turns of a road forgotten.

Contractor Showed Up But Later Disappeared

Both Yusuf Audu and Abdulrasheed Muhammed concurred on the point that a contractor had appeared on the scene in 2022 with the intention to address the road’s long-standing woes.

“They did pay a visit here. Not even a full year has passed since then. If only they had honored their commitment. By now, the road might have been completed. Initially, they tackled a small stretch of the road right at its origin in Igboho. However, after that, they vanished without a trace,” lamented Yusuf Audu.

Abdulrasheed gestured to the buildings nearby, where the contractors had etched numbers onto the surfaces—a tangible testament to their presence and their initial efforts to initiate road construction.

“Our spirits soared momentarily. We witnessed the arrival of substantial machinery, believing that the road’s transformation was finally in motion. Regrettably, as the day drew to a close, all our hopes dissipated into thin air,” Abdulrasheed stated somberly.

Jacob Adetunji Is Tired Of Farming

In conversation with this reporter, Jacob Adetunji, a fellow farmer whose agricultural endeavors extend from Igboho to Oloko, shared his disillusionment with the persistent struggle of tending to his land.

“My farm straddles the expanse between Oloko and Igboho. Yet, weariness has crept into each trip I undertake. This fatigue has led me to shift my focus toward my Okada business, a supplement to my income that aids in supporting my family.

“There are instances when our passage to the farm is thwarted by encroaching waters. Indeed, we’ve experienced countless occasions when the road itself is submerged. Regrettably, the road has borne witness to numerous accidents, although, to the best of my knowledge, no lives have been claimed.

“This lamentable situation has also cast a shadow on our farming productivity. The transportation costs for our harvests surge, as we expend additional funds to ferry them to the marketplace. Moreover, a substantial portion of our yield succumbs to decay, left stranded on the farm due to the road’s impassability. At times, a more malevolent fate befalls us—our produce falls victim to the hands of thieves.”

Findings On How The Contract Was Awarded

In November 2019, the federal executive council under President Muhammadu Buhari approved the rehabilitation of Igboho, Oloko, and Agbonle in Oyo State.

During a post-meeting briefing at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed the outcomes of the council’s deliberations. With the nod of approval, two memoranda and one report from the Ministry of Works and Housing secured the go-ahead from the council.

“The second memorandum we presented was for the award of three roads in Igboho-Oloko-Agbonle in Oyo State and Gulu to Yaba town between the Federal Capital Territory and Niger State, as well as Sharada to Maidobi and Danbaure in Kano State.

“Council approved these roads for N7.249 billion for the first one in Oyo, N7.593 for the second one in Niger/FCT, and N4.510 for the third one in Kano,” Fashola said.

The Informant247’s findings on www.govspend.ng, an open contracting portal, found that over N151 million naira was released to Bdt International Limited between 2020 and 2021 for the rehabilitation of the road.

On the 16th of April, 2020, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing paid the sum of N130,892,026,58 to Bdt International Limited for the rehabilitation of the Igboho-Oloko-Agbonle road.

On the 27th of October in 2021, the ministry also paid a sum of N20,870,930.23 to the Bdt for the same purpose.

Meanwhile, earlier in 2019, a sum of N9,576,000,00 was awarded to Ogueri, Mr. Ugochukwu Pascal, for the rehabilitation of the road.

BDT Construction Reacts, Decline To Reveal Identity

When reached by phone, the Managing Director of Bdt Construction Limited revealed that merely a meager one percent of the project’s allocated funds were disbursed five years ago. While he chose not to disclose his name, he indicated that the shortfall in financial support could be a contributing factor hindering the project’s progression.

“Our company is in charge of the road. The government has only given me one percent of the contract sum. We have tried our best to ensure that we get paid, but we can’t force the government. There is nobody to hold on to.

“We have spoken to the Senator and House of Representatives in that place and we have put heads together, but nothing.

“I’m still paying rent in Igboho for the staff quarters I rented,” lamented the MD, who told this reporter to make inquiries about the project from the government agency in charge

One Percent Mobilization Claim And The Spate Of Abandoned Projects In Nigeria

The BDT contractor’s claim that only one percent of the contract sum has been paid to their company is incorrect.

The Informant247, based on the available evidence, discovered that the money released so far for the project is more than one percent.

While the contract was awarded for the sum of N7.249 billion, the one percent sum of the money is N7.249 million.

In clear terms, the money released for the project so far is 2.09% of the contract sum.

The Public Procurement Act of 2017 amended in Section 35, sub-section one, noted that a mobilization fee of not more than 15% may be paid to a supplier or contractor in charge of a project.

While the interpretation of the procurement act’s stipulations might be open to discretion, the Nigerian federal government, as overseen by the Ministry of Works and Housing, has displayed a marked indifference toward adhering to the established standards set forth in the act. 

Consequently, the project has become yet another addition to the extensive roster of forsaken endeavors within Nigeria.

In 2022, the Chartered Institute of Project Managers of Nigeria (CIPMN) said there are 56, 000 projects across the country. The body claimed that the value of the abandoned project “is worth over N17 trillion and it is still counting.”

The most recent disbursement of funds by the government for road rehabilitation occurred in 2021. However, the current condition of the road has exacerbated the challenges faced by its users.

The limited expansion work undertaken at the road’s inception has introduced a series of hardships for those who traverse it.

Moreover, the partial grading of the road has introduced an additional predicament for commuters, particularly during the wet season when the road becomes treacherously slippery as a result of erosion.

A search on www.ngchecks.com showed that Bdt International Limited was incorporated in Abuja, Nigeria, with Registration Number 857285.

It was registered on December 3, 2009, and its current status is unknown. The company’s registered office address is 7 Nile Street, Suncity Estate, Abuja.

On the refusal of the contractor to mention his name to this reporter, The Informant247 also took a dig deep on the details of the company’s ownership.

The Informant247 discovered that the trio of Adetomiye Adetuberu, Braiye Adetuberu, and Deji Adetuberu are all registered as Directors in the company, while Ibekwute Ibekwute Agbonmene is registered as the Secretary.

A further search also reveals that the trio of Adetuberu are also directors of Tbd oil and Gas Limited.

While the company was incorporated in Abuja, Nigeria, with Registration Number 859075, It was also registered on December 14, 2009, eleven days after Bdt International was registered.

Tbd Oil and Gas Company also shares the same registered office address as bdt International.

Ministry Fail To Respond To FOI Letter

Regrettably, the Ministry of Works and Housing has remained unresponsive to the inquiry letter that was dispatched to their official email address.

Earlier, this journalist had contacted the official contact provided on the Ministry’s website and was directed to submit an inquiry letter to the official email.

Despite the passage of several weeks since the letter was dispatched, the Ministry has yet to provide any response.

This situation represents a recurring trend—the Ministry’s apparent refusal to respond to the Freedom of Information (FOI) letters.

For instance, The Informant247 recalls how an FOI request was formally submitted to the Ministry of Works and Housing regarding the government’s inability to rehabilitate the access road within the Oyo community, despite the allocation of funds for the project.

Although the Ministry acknowledged receipt of the request and pledged to furnish a response, this commitment has remained unfulfilled for months.

Federal Controller Of Works, Oyo State, Speaks, Says Contractor Has Not Identified With State Office

Acknowledging the current state of abandonment, the Federal Controller of Works in Oyo State, Engr. Kayode Ibraheem said he was not aware of any payment to the contractor for the project.

“He did manage to initiate some preliminary work—earthwork, concrete undertakings, pegging, surveying, and even commenced rock blasting at certain points. However, it seems financial constraints hindered his progress.

“I have submitted reports to our headquarters, indicating my inability to locate him. He has not furnished any certificates or invoices that would facilitate the release of funds for the project.”

The controller clarified that while the contractor isn’t obligated to inform him about receiving payments, it is imperative for the controller to be notified when invoices are being raised.

“As of now, I am unaware of any disbursements to the contractor. He has not relayed such information to me. I am also cognizant of the fact that, at a certain juncture, he mobilized workers to the site despite not receiving payment. However, due to a lack of invoices reflecting the work accomplished, we were unable to recommend payment at our level.”

A contractor who is awarded a contract for a federal road is expected to report to the federal Controller at the state level, where the project will be handed over to him, and also take charge of supervision and monitoring the project.

Also, in an effort to get more information about why the road project was abandoned and why the contractor has decided to leave the site, all efforts to reach the Southwest Zonal Director of Highways, under the 

Federal Ministry of Works, Adedamola Kuti, was not fruitful.

Neither did he pick up his call nor reply to messages sent to his phone.

This report was published with support from Civic Media Lab.

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