By Ferdinand Ekeoma
The governor of Abia state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has finally admitted that the road construction project carried out by his administration at Faulks Road was a mess, and expressed sadness that the construction company that undertook the project, SETRACO could not live up to expectation.
Speaking during a Live Radio Program earlier today on Buzz FM Aba, Ikpeazu departed from the position of his numerous aides who have been struggling, albeit unsuccessfully to defend the construction calamity at Faulks road, by admitting that the collapse was as a result of the failure of the Construction Company to do the necessary channeling that should have linked Osusu Road, coupled with other failings during the construction, and promised to ensure that the company returns to site to correct their errors by redoing the job.
In what appeared like self indictment, the governor went further to state that the road was made ready because President Buhari was coming to commission the Ariaria Electricity Project.
According to the governor “The Faulks Road project was neither constructed through Aka Construction, nor through the Abia state Ministry of Works”, but by construction giants, SETRACO hence his anger.
The governor went further to praise himself, and insisted that in spite of the failure of the project,he was still proud because the situation is far better than what was obtainable before he came on board.
Governor Ikpeazu highlighted other achievements of his government.
While it must be admitted that some of the road projects the governor mentioned were executed by his government, yet, there were many fallacious claims and distortions made by the governor concerning project execution which I shall tackle with facts at the appropriate time, however, I would like to briefly assess what the governor said concerning Faulks road.
First, Faulks road was considered Ikpeazu’s biggest project, this was manifested both in the enormous publicity carried out by the government and the amount alleged to have been spent on the project; N6.8 NBillion for a 4.6 Kilometre road was more than atrocious.
Secondly, the Ikpeazu led government boasted about the quality of the project. In fact, when we raised the alarm concerning the cost of the project which we feared might have been inflated to defraud the state, the government dismissed our position, but rather told Abians that the project was a “construction masterpiece” that had not been seen before.
Thirdly, when we noticed the gradual collapse of the road after its completion and raised the alarm, Ikpeazu’s Spokespersons quickly and half-smartly claimed that the project had not been completed. We knew this was false, having earlier seen the government celebrate the completion of the project, coupled with the complete disappearance of the contractors.
Those who carefully listened to the governor this morning would agree that the governor, face with glaring evidence, was unequivocal in his admittance of failure of the project.
The governor unconsciously said that they delivered the project because the President was coming to commission the FG electricity project at Ariaria. This indicting comment indicated that the project was hurriedly done to give President Buhari and members of his entourage the impression that his government was doing well, or maybe, to avoid a reprimand from those who may have earlier been deceived with TV adverts on the true situation of things in Abia.
In another attempt not to wholely admit failure without some excuses, the governor blamed the heavy duty trucks that ply Faulks road as one of the reasons for the quick collapse.
The questions that are now begging for answers are:
1.How did SETRACO known for quality projects in different parts of the country deliver such poor and substandard job that ought to have been a signature project of the government?
2. The Construction Signboard initially bore “SETRACO HEARTLAND” as the contractor. What was the role of the said HEARTLAND in the project execution ? Was SETRACO used as a publicity stunt while a mushroom company did the job?
3. Why did Ikpeazu’s aides continue to deny the collapse of the road until this point?
4. If the Ikpeazu led government still insists that the contractors were not done with the project, how come they disapeared from the construction site of a strategic road for more than one year, while new contracts were being awarded elsewhere by the same government?
5. Assuming the road project was done when Ikpeazu was ending his tenure, wouldn’t the contractors have disappeared and succeeded in defrauding the state.
6. Do Ikpeazu’s technical suggestions on air which he said should have been adopted by the company during the construction not put to question the competence of the company, especially going by the fact that he is a layman in this field?
7. Finally, Ikpeazu proudly reminded us comically that he was not using “Aka Construction or Ministry of Works” for the project. Sadly, he ended up reminding us that our Ministry of Works is useless, forgetting that Mbakwe leveraged on the expertise of competent Men and Women in the Old Imo State Ministry of Works to build many landmark projects. Our governor should know that we are not opposed to using locals for project execution, we are only opposed to using incompetent individuals and institutions who shortchange the state because they see every contract given to them as a political settlement.
Dr Okezie Ikpeazu needs to be reminded that if he fails to seriously correct the mess that gulped billions of naira belonging to all of us at Faulks road, he would be setting a dangerous post-governorship trap for himself in the future, and when he’s caught, the cheering sychophants would be no where to be found.