From Steve Oko, Umuahia
Investigations have revealed that the Federal Government sunk a water bore hole at a primary school in Nneato Community in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State, at the tune of N50 million.
The investigation was conducted by a team of researchers headed by Dr. Uzuchukwu Amakom, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Nigeria Nsuka, (UNN).
Amakom’s team is investigating the level of implementation of federal capital projects for Abia State as captured in the 2017 federal budget.
The university don presented the report of their findings during a sensitisation seminar organised in Umuahia by Women Aid Collective (WACOL) for journalists, town union presidents and Non- Governmental Organisations, (NGOs) on the performance of the 2017 capital budget for Abia State.
According to the report, only 19.51% of federal capital projects in all three senatorial zones in the state had been “completed and in use.”
The report further revealed that either work did not start or started and was abandoned in 21.95% of the projects, while the status of projects could not be ascertained in 4.88% of the projects.
“We discovered that 14.63% was completed but not in use, 2.44% poorly executed and failed, 17.07% ongoing”, Amakom said.
He revealed that N50 million was budgeted for the water borehole project at Nneato which had since been executed.
The project was said to have been awarded by the Anambra-Imo River Basin Authority.
The report also revealed that the federal government rehabilitated the Better Life Market Lokpanta also in Umunneochi LGA at the cost of another whopping N50 million.
According to the report, only two new blocks of 20 shops could be observed by investigators during their visit to the market.
Members of the community were said to have described the project as “a personal project” of a federal lawmaker from the area.
Similarly, the report indicated that N30 million was spent on the construction of 2000 capacity hall at Federal Technical School Ohanso in Ukwa area of the state.
“Our team of investigators saw the land provided for the project but there was no sign of any work done on it”, the report said.
According to the report, another whopping sum of N25 million was expended for the construction of 2000 capacity dining hall in the same school.
“No serious work is going on at the site but the contractor said he had not been mobilized,” the report noted.
The report also said 20 bathrooms and 20 toilets were constructed in the same school at the cost of N10 million.
“N20 million was for construction and furnishing of a block of three classrooms at Umuokowe Central School Olokoro, Umuahia South LGA, but we observed that the building already has a leaky roof.
“We also saw that N30 million was budgeted for landscaping and erosion control at Old Umuahia, but when we got there, there was no evidence of work done,” the report further noted.
The report also frowned at the vague nature of another budgetary provision which indicated that a staggering N250 million was allocated for the “procurement of fertilizer in Aba North and Aba South federal constituency.
“N200 million was budgeted for the dredging of Umukwu River in Abia South. The project is on-going but the community said work was at snail pace. Construction of Umunwanwa irrigation and erosion control was N20 million, but the project was poorly executed and has since collapsed. The community said experts were not involved in the project, and that new gully had already developed,” the report said.
The report further said that N30 million was budgeted for erosion control at Umuogele Isuochi, “but no sign of work is going on at the site,” adding that the gully could get worse except there is immediate intervention.
The team, however, noted that “work is still on-going “at the N103 million erosion control site at Nkwoagu Isuochi.
The research also revealed that whereas N40 million was budgeted for the rehabilitation of Uturu-Isuikwuato Road, in Abia North, by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency ( FERMA) , ” there is no sign of work going on there.”
It added that “N100 million was for construction of Mbala – Umuaku Road in Isuochi, but nothing was done on the road, and some people in the community interviewed said the “road has become a pipeline for siphoning of public funds by politicians as it keeps coming up in the budget every year.”
According to the team, “We also saw in the budget N100 million for completion of rural electrification project in Abia North , but unfortunately there is no new electrification project in the zone.”
However, a rural electrification project at Ikputu Naulu in Abia Central zone awarded for N35 million was said to have been completed but, “not stepped down”, according to the report.
“We also saw a healthcare centre at Ubakala budgeted for N20 million. The building was completed but the community said the equipment was diverted to another location.
“We also discovered that N40 million was captured in the budget for procurement of furniture at the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia, but the hospital management was not forthcoming with the needed information,” said the report.
The report also said N205 million was budgeted for the perimeter fencing of the National Root Crop Research Institute Umudike, and another N215 million for asphalting of internal roads, adding that management of the institute confirmed it had been executed.
According to the report, N3.6 billon was budgeted for the rehabilitation of the Enugu- Port Harcourt expressway (from Lokpa to Umuahia axis), but the project is yet to be completed , thus worsening the ordeal of commuters on the dual carriageway which has for years now, remained a nightmare.
Dr. Amakom, therefore, tasked town union presidents, traditional rulers, NGOs, and members of the public to hold their federal lawmakers accountable for the projects approved for their constituencies.
He argued that the legislators have the mandate of the people to ensure that the federal government and its relevant agencies/ ministries execute any project captured in the budget for their constituencies.
QUOTE: “According to the report, only 19.51% of federal capital projects in all the three senatorial zones in the state had been ‘completed, and in use.”