Concerns about the non transparency and probity in the fiscal policy administration of the Rivers State Government has continued to take centre stage in public discuss of the affairs of the state, particularly in the award of Contracts for infrastructural development.
The Network for the Defense of Democratic and Good Governance – NDDGG as a watchdog instrument is not relenting in its partnership for development in Rivers state.
While some have thrown their weight behind our pursuit, others have also criticized us for seemingly stalking particularly on the affairs of only the Rivers State Government, when the fiscal policy administration of the federal government is not devoid of questions leading to its alleged failure to provide good governance to Nigerians.
The NDDGG wishes to clarify that we hold nothing personal against the state government nor its administrators, we only disagree in principle.
The unveiling of alleged irregularities in the financial profile of Rivers State Government is only aimed at seeking justice for the people. The public has been put in the dark for too long and this has injected apathy into the citizenship space for too long.
While our Governor, Chief Barrister Nyesom Wike is widely known for his vehement criticisms against the perceived injustices and unpopular policies of the federal government especially as regards fiscal responsibility, it is rather disheartening that back here in the state, citizens have continued to suffer worst fate, hence, the public outcry in different quarters of the state.
One thing that can not be taken away from the current Rivers State Government is the fact that it has embarked on several projects across the state for which Governor Wike was christened “Mr Projects”.
Commendable or condemnable as these projects may seem to appear depending on the varying views and the divided perceptions of the public, what is crucial and curious here is the appropriation and discordant or conflicting costs of these projects especially the flyover bridges.
This is judging from the figures in the Governor’s broadcasts or his Press Statements as captured in the News.
They have been consistently been at variance with the figures of such particular projects as captured in the secret budgets of the State which was recently published on the official website of Rivers State Government.
It is not in doubt that the budget was historically uploaded briefly after we raised the alarm about the continued secrecy shrouding the budget which has put the state in the black list of foreign investors. The alarm we raised got the attention of the World Bank recently, and this culminated in the delisting of Rivers State from benefitting in the loan granted to the Federal Government.
Rivers State from our findings was the only state isolated from benefiting from the $4 Billion dollar loan by the federal government. This is not the first time the current government has allowed its perceived malfeasance to starve or embarrass the citizens of the state in this manner occasioned by the tradition of hiding state budgets from 2015 till date.
From the state budget documents, all Awards of Flyovers in Rivers state have been at the behest of the Governor who only announces to the public what he has decided without compliance with Appropriation and Procurement Laws of the state.
Subject to open enquiry, doubtlessly and incontrovertibly though, there is not one Flyover project cost that under the current Rivers State Government that is without questions of impropriety and irregularities.
According to the Rivers State Government, “One of them will be at the intersection of the Olu-Obasanjo Road on the Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway. That bridge will be about 800 metres long….” (referring to the WATERLINES FLYOVER on the Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway). And the other flyover bridge which according to the Government is being constructed at the intersection of the Ikwerre Road, where you have the Olu-Obasanjo Road and Azikiwe Street, also known as IKOKWU FLYOVER will be one kilometre long. Both projects will come at a combined cost of about N12.4bn.”
COMPARATIVE FROM BUDGET
1.The Ikokwu flyover bridge described above is budgeted for One billion, five hundred million Naira, only (N1,500, 000,000.00). Assuming the Waterlines end is valued at 1.5 billion Naira irrespective of the fact that it is about 200 metres short of the length of the Ikokwu Flyover, what the Governor announced and indeed awarded is N12.4BN.
- The GRA junction Flyover, Ezimgbu-Mama B/Tombia Street extension/expansion is Awarded at Fifteen Billion, Five hundred million Naira (N15.8B) on record and this is published on all mainstream News including the Governors Press Statements and Handles.
Meanwhile, what the 2021 budget appropriated and provided for is One Billion, Seven hundred and sixty six million, eight hundred and fifty one thousand, five hundred and forty seven thousand, fifty one kobo (N1,766, 851, 547.51). The road for expansion is 680 meters, while that of the Flyover is 502 meters.
- Oro-Abali/Kaduna Street Junction Flyover Reconstruction is budgeted for at the cost of One Billion, five hundred and eighty nine million, seven hundred and seventy four thousand, three hundred and two Naira, ninety two kobo, only (N1, 589, 774, 302. 92) without a disclosed Award cost.
RUMUOGBA, REBISI AND OKORO-NU-ODU BRIDGES
Award cost: Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State awarded the Flyovers for N21 and paid N14.7 billion deposit upfront.
The length of the Flyover Bridges includes Artillery 1 and 2: 517.5 metres, Rumuokoro 360 metres, and Garrison 360 metres.
2021 BUDGET COST FOR RUMUOGBA
One Billion, five hundred and eighty million, three hundred and ninety one thousand, four hundred and fifty three thousand and twenty eight kobo (1, 580, 391, 453. 28).
2021 Budget allocation for Rumuola flyover Reconstruction is put at One Billion, Five hundred Million Naira, only (1,500,000,000).
It follows that the Rivers State Government announced Sixteen billion Naira only for Rumuola Bridge contrary to the value captured in the Appropriation Law of Rivers State 2021.
Meanwhile the total figures published by Rivers State Government on its Press Statement and Governor’s broadcast for Rumuogba, Rebisi and Okoro-nu-odu put at Twenty one Billion Naira, plus Rumuola is at total – Thirty six billion and Eight hundred Million Naira.
- PRESIDENTIAL JUNCTION FLYOVER
This is another project that is still shrouded in a mystery. Without any attempt to discredit the projects for the purposes of this demand for probity and transparency, this particular project ranks amongst those awarded by the Rivers State Government that is inconsistent with the budgets of Rivers State.
“TRANS-KALABARI ROAD PROJECT”
The Rivers State Government on the 25th of March, 2021, announced the commencement of the first phase of 13 kilometers of what it wrongly branded Tran-Kalabari road that should connect communities of the Kalabari axis of the state, awarding the project to Lubrik Construction Company at 13.48 billion Naira.
The question begging for answers is how the Rivers State Government arrived at the curious valuation figures of 13.8 Billion Naira without Bridges linking the affected coastal communities.
Constructing a road to link up Krakrama, Omekwe-ama, Angulama, Omekwe Tari-Ama, Sangama, Minama, and others known as Central Group, can best be described as Asari-Toru or Central Group internal link roads and not Trans-Kalabari road.
However, it is worrisome that the overall description of the said contract by the Rivers State Government does not in any way align or reflect the reality of what the Trans-Kalabari road ought to be. The Central Group is an island surrounded by water and each of the communities of Krakrama, Omekwe-ama, Angulama, Omekwe Tari-Ama, Sangama, and Minama already have bushy road track connections (though not tarred), that motorbikes or cars could drive through if available.
- OUR SUBMISSION
It is however worrisome and shocking to wake up to the news of the state executive council approving another borrowing of Twenty Five Billion Naira from Zenith Bank to fund construction of the Tenth flyover, Afam/Oyibo road and others. This move clearly demonstrates the resolve of the current administration to plunder and starch away the collective wealth of Rivers people.
Otherwise, with the figures stipulated for the various flyover constructions as contained in the state 2021 budget uploaded on their own accord on the state’s official website, it is now common knowledge that the figures announced by the state government were inflated.
On the other hand, let us assume the government announced those figures in error, it would have been a honourable thing for it to own up to its mistakes and correct itself by making public the right figures for the projects in line with the figures published on the State 2021 budget, and then channel the money left in excess of over Fifty Billion Naira to the new projects it wants to execute.
However, its decision to still go ahead to borrow another Twenty Five Billion Naira to mortgage the future of the state goes to show the level of greed, heartlessness and deliberate ploy to plunder the state’s treasury.
To this end therefore, it is our right to raise constructive questions to demand accountability from the Government.
The respective projects in various Local Government Areas of Rivers State awarded are too tall in value compared to the figures captured in the secret budget which the Rivers State Government only recently uploaded to validate their claim of entitlement to World Bank loans and grants.
The Rivers State Government should submit itself for scrutiny and probity going forward.
We place a demand on all development partners to insist on transparency if they must invest in or do business under the current administration of the Rivers State Government because the citizens are the hardest hit in this corruption infestation.
It is important that Julius Berger should also come out clean in its dealings with the state government.
We request that the relevant anti graft agencies and institutions should take necessary steps to arrest the situation for the good of Rivers State and Nigeria in general because of the economic strategic importance of the state.
- THREATS TO OUR LIVES
While I, Amb Sobomabo Jackrich together with the NDDGG and the KUF carry out this noble task to ensure citizens of the state get what is due them, I wish to also bring to public notice the constant threats to my life and to that of members of my groups.
We have suffered untold intimidation and persecution by agents of the Rivers State Government all in a bid to permanently silence us from speaking up against this tyrannic leadership.
I therefore call on all relevant security agencies in Rivers State and across the country including the Inspector General of Police, Directorate of Department of State Services, the Nigerian Army and others to be aware of this threats to our lives and come to our aide.
High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich
Founder/Leader, Network for the Defense of Democratic and Good Governance (NDDGG) and Kengema Unity Forum (KUF).