EKET/IBENO ROAD SAGA – NSIMA AND AKPABIO: TANDEM OF LOOTERS
By Emmanuel Nicholas
By now, it is no longer news that during the Senator Godswill Akpabio-led administration as the Governor of the state, there were series of outrageous, white-elephant contracts awarded as means of siphoning State funds for personal aggrandizement.
It is worthy of note that most of the projects so awarded and money paid in full are now death traps due to the abandonment by contractors on reasons of non-availability of funds for either completion or to even kick-start same. Interestingly, some of these projects have since been taken over and completed by the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration.
For instance, available records show that on 17th July, 2013, during the same administration of Godswill Obot Akpabio a contract for the dualization of the Eket-Ibeno road was awarded to CCECC NIG LTD. The initial contract sum was N24,949.542.135,32. (Twenty Four Billion, Nine Hundred and Forty Nine Million,Five Hundred and Forty Two Thousand, One Hundred and Thirty Five Naira Thirty Two Kobo only) (please find attached the document titled Award of Contract for the Dualization of Eket – Ibeno Road Dated 17th July, 2013 with reference NO. GO/FGPC/S/6/VOL.XX/153, addressed to The Managing Director, Messrs CCECC (Nig.) Ltd, NO. 5 Aka Community Road, Uyo) the completion period of the contract was 18 Months from the date of the acceptance of the offer.
The sum of N 9, 979,816, 854.13 (Nine Billion, Nine Hundred and Seventy Nine Million, Eight Hundred and Sixteen Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Four Naira Thirteen Kobo) being 40% of the contract sum was paid for mobilization in favour of the contractor. (Please see the same document quoted above.) From the available records the award of the contract was another means through which the state fund was embezzled by the then Governor Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio.
The reason for this conclusion is that from the available documents no company bidded for the contract except the ompany the contract was awarded to. This is a proof that at the time the contract was awarded, there were no advertisement for interested bidders to submit their bids. This act is against the provision of Section 23 (1) of Public Procurement Act which states that “a procuring entity may engage in public procurement by open bidding by means of (a) international competitive bidding or (b) national competitive bidding’’.
For avoidance of doubt, the Public Procurement Act is the law that regulates the award of public contract in Nigeria. The award of the contract did not comply with the provision of the above stated law.
The contract did not also comply with the provision of section 23 (3) of the same law which further provides that:
“Where a procuring entity uses a method of procurement other open bidding, it shall include in the records required under section 47 a statement of the reasons and the circumstances on which it relied to justify the use of that other method’’. From the available records, the contract was not openly bidded for by the CCECC NIG LTD which means the contract was awarded in secret. It is clear from the available records that money meant for this contract was approved and disbursed but the actual dualization of the road did not take place; in other words, that the money meant for the contract was misappropriated.
On the 28th February, 2013, the same contract was reviewed to the tune of N4,500,000,000.00 (Four Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira) this review too did not follow due process as there is nothing in the records to show that such variation was necessary.
For avoidance of doubt, the law is that a contract cannot be varied or reviewed except where there are additional works which will change the scope of the initial contract, or when there is inflation which will result in the fall or rise of the naira to dollar exchange rate. In the present circumstance, there was no additional work that necessitated the review of the said contract neither was there any increase in the exchange rate.
This therefore means that nothing necessitated the variation of the initial contract that was awarded to CCECC NIG LTD for the dualization of the Eket/Ibeno road.
This then raises some posers as to why the variation of the contract sum from the initial N24,949bn to N 29,449bn was conducted. But more important
The answer to that question can only be suppl; why the job was abandoned even after this outrageous and unwarranted review was carried out. Apart from the illegality that surrounds the award of the contract and the variation of the contract sum, records show that the entire N 29,449,542,135.32 (Twenty Nine Billion Four Hundred and Forty Four Nine Million Five Hundred and Forty Two Thousand One Hundred and Thirty Five Naira Thirty Two Kobo) naira was paid from the Akwa Ibom State government purse.
And lest we forget, there was also was N8, 000,000,000.00 (Eight Billion Naira only) that was contributed by Exxon Mobil Plc as part of their community development project for the construction of the said road. Again, ther is no available evidence to show that the said money was ever returned to the coffers of the company (Exxon Mobil Plc.) since the job in question was not executed.
(Please find attached the document titled Interim/Final Payment Certificate No. 5n dated December 4, 2014 as a prove that money paid was (Five Billion, Seven Hundred and Thirty Eight Million, One Hundred and Twenty Two Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty Eight Naira Twenty One Kobo ) (On This Please Fine Attached a Document to the Company
There is no gainsaying the fact that Governor Udom Emmanuel as a true son of Eket Senatorial District has long completed the Eket – Ibeno Road which he met at road clearing level. Today the road enjoys the status of a dual carriageway with eight lanes.
Little wonder that the Director General of the Divine Mandate Campaign Organisation, Air Commodore Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga has often said that the forth-coming election is more of a referendum; a time to choose between darkness and light; good and evil. Adding quickly that Udom Emmanuel represents light.
No doubt, going by these revelations, many would readily agree with the Air Commodore that the choice between Akwa Ibomites this season is one between integrity and credible leadership and between those who thrive in lies and fraudulent leadership.