The reported cancellation of the World Bank Greater Aba Flood mediation and auxiliary road projects by NEWMAP has been traced to greed and deceit in the handling and management of the intervention project by state actors, who saw it as an opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of the masses.
World Bank through the NEWMAP has intervened in the Ndiegoro underground drainage tunnel which is considered as the biggest NEWMAP project in Nigeria, but midway the project has been cancelled due to lack of financial transparency in its execution.
The World Bank Aba Greater Drainage project is one project which has become a matter of necessity to examine the controversies that trailed the project and highlight the role of karma in this latest development about its cancellation.
According to a sources who are privy to the circumstances that led to the World bank involvement and termination of the World bank Greater Aba Drainage/auxiliary road works, Chief Emeka Ohaegbu, the journey started in 2008 when the Chairman Worldwide Environmental Technologies Ltd Sir Ako Obioma rejected a N2.1bn road maintenance job for Aba roads from former governor T.A Orji.
It was gathered that instead he made a proposal for the complete overhaul of Aba drainage and roads to the former governor, as his company’s condition in participating in any road and engineering works at Aba. This position was applauded and subsequently approved after painstaking explanation of the Aba topography and terrain to the government.
The source further said that between 2008 to 2009 Worldwide Environmental Technologies and their team of Consultants led by Etteh Aro & Partners transverse all the streets of Aba and also used satellite to get images in a bid to work out both the manual and scientific Topographic Survey of Abia, with primary emphasis on Aba.
Our investigations revealed that the efforts translated to the Worldwide Environmental Technologies producing full underground and open drainage design for the Greater Aba Drainage project which was submitted to Abia State government on December 2009, with the aim of using same in attracting World Bank and other financial development agencies to partner with Abia State in intervention works.
Chief Emeka Ohaegbu said in considering this Senator T.A Orji approved the award of the first phase of the drainage contract from Aba – Owerri road through MCC -IFEOBARA POND to Worldwide Environmental Technologies owned by Sir Ako Obioma at the cost of N4.8billion.
However the “take-off of the project was stalled due to administrative bottlenecks in the then F$GPC with Hon Maxwell Ndukwe Adindu (Commissioner for finance) as chairman, and hijack of the submitted finished works with hard copy of the topographic survey by agents of government even without payment of the design consultancy fee.”
It was alleged that on assumption of office in 2015, agents of the state government that stalled the project sold the idea to incumbent governor Okezie Ikpeazu, as well as secretly manipulated Etteh Aro & partners copy and handed over the design with prices and unpriced bill of quantities to the Governor, who in turn submitted it to World bank as part of their counterpart funding.
“The perpetrators struck a deal with the government and was paid for a job they did not do”, he stated, adding that on getting this information the consultant Etteh Aro & Partners were the first to petition World bank while Worldwide Environmental Technologies waited to drop its own petition which would have stalled the project indefinitely.
He said on receiving the petition from Etteh Aro & Partners, the World Bank suspended the transaction and urged Abia government and their financial consultant, Chief Emeka Ononiwu to go and settle with Ette Aro & Partners first.
So “In their confused state, the government sent Chief Emeka Ononiwu to Sir Ako Obioma the Chairman/CEO Worldwide Environmental Technologies Limited for understanding to convince Etteh Aro & partners to write World Bank intimating them that the matter has been resolved”.
He said in their negotiation with the government represented by their financial consultant Chief Emeka Ononiwu, former commissioner for Environment Hon Gab Igboko, former commissioner for finance Hon Obinna Oriaku, Permanent Secretary ministry of works Chief Nwala and the Attorney General Ume Kalu, the following agreement were reached:
1.That Etteh Aro & Partners accept payment of N100m against N198m being stage one fee of consultancy for the design contract.
- That on approval and commencement of work by World bank, Etteh Aro & Partners would be given first choice option for continuation of the project design and supervision.
- That Worldwide Environmental Technologies Ltd should suspend their intended petition to World bank and legal action against the government promising that the government would accommodate their interest when the project takes off.
“On acceptance of these agreements, Sir Ako Obioma who funded Etteh Aro & Partners, mandated them to write the settlement letter to World bank which himself handed over to Chief Emeka Ononiwu and the process for getting this fund resumed. Due to complaints of lack of fund, Abia government split the payment to Etteh Aro & Partners into three and paid only 80% of agreed sum till date.
“It’s so unfortunate that while they were relying and waiting on their agreement with Abia State, the government secretly carried out tender for the project in 2020, excluding the proposed contractors Worldwide Environmental Technologies and their foreign partners that built the Uyo, Akwa Ibom underground drainage tunnel and also the consultants Etteh Aro & Partners that designed the Uyo underground tunnel.
It was learned that instead of fulfilling the agreement reached the state government went ahead to seal a deal with Setraco and a relatively unknown Dubai Partner despite the terrible and dangerous job they did at the Ossah-Umuda (Revd Dr Iweala Link Road) bypass and erosion control in Umuahia.
He said “it’s evidently clear that if the Abia state government has maintained sincerity with Etteh Aro & Partners and Worldwide Environmental Technologies Limited, this project which they conceptualised and prepared for early enough before the commencement of NEWMAP in 2012, would have quietly neared completion before this 2021 that NEWMAP is winding up.
To him it is obvious that the end has justified the politics, deceit and greed that trailed it since 2009, adding that “but Abians are the once to lose this laudable professional effort by our son Sir Ako Obioma and our most revered and cherished wife, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, whose efforts attracted World bank to execute this projects in Abia. So, this has given impetus to the saying that Karma is real”.