Beneficiary communities resort to self-funded initiatives as contractors fleece project fund
Full audio file of first episode (live)
From January 2019 to October 2023, the federal government released N1.4 billion to contractors to execute over 50 flood and erosion related projects across Ogun state. Of this amount, N745 million worth of flood projects were executed in Ogun Central senatorial district, N465 million in Ogun East and N255 million in Ogun West. In this special investigative piece, Jamiu Folarin delves into the execution of these flood and erosion projects rife with corruption and uncompleted projects. The first part of this special investigative journalism series, exposed contractors pocketing a staggering N243 millions of construction funds and executed only N11 million worth of the projects.
How the Investigation Started
In September 2023, Jamiu Folarin of Rockcity 101.9 F.M was selected as one of the BudgIT GovSpend media fellows with the task of promoting accountability and transparency in the implementation of the federal government budget and specific execution of projects in this budget through the data on the GovSpend portal curated from the Open Treasure Portal of the federal government of Nigeria.
The investigation began with the tracking of the construction of flood and erosion works in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital. This is in the background of concerns raised about the extent of the lives and property loss to flooding in Nigeria.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said over 600 people lost their lives, 2.8 million persons affected, 2,436 injured, 444,117 hectares of farmland damaged and millions of dollars investment lost to flooding in 2022.
Communities in Ogun State are not also immuned from the danger associated with release of water from Oyan dam constructed in Abeokuta by the Ogun/Osun River Basin Development Authority. In the State, 4,885 persons were affected by flooding in 10 Local Government Areas.
This is in the background of corruption in use of the ecological fund by the federal government agencies, State and Local Governments where different stakeholders are questioning how over N1 trillion released as ecological funds in the last ten years have been expended.
One point of contention in the allegations by former Ijebu East chairman, Mr. Wale Adedayo, involved the use of ecological funds worth billions meant for 20 Local Government Areas in Ogun state.
On the 23rd of October 2023, Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, declared a state of emergency in the flooded Iseri community in Ifo Local Government Area. He pledged a comprehensive assessment and a permanent solution to the recurring flooding, working with the federal government as an emergency case.
In pursuit of accountability, transparency, and the effective use of government funds while proactively addressing Ogun state’s flooding challenges to safeguard lives and property, Rockcity F.M in collaboration with BudgIT initiated an investigation into federal government projects with focus on flood and erosion control in the state.
On Sunday, 8th October 2023, at approximately 4:30 pm, our reporter embarked on a journey from Lafenwa to Harmony Estate, located near the only Federal University of Agriculture in the southwest of Nigeria.
It took the reporter close to one hour before he could navigate his way to the community where the federal government said it released over N31 million to Akocen Works Ventures Limited for the construction of flood and erosion works between 2021 and 2022 through the OORBDA.
From Asero to Camp, and Camp to Harmony Estate, the roads are dilapidated and our reporter had to take a commercial motorcycle to reduce the time of his journey to the community.
It would be recalled that the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Abasi who is the Chancellor of FUNAAB recently expressed concerns over the deplorable condition of roads leading to the area during the last convocation ceremony of the University.
Communities unite to track FG’s multi-million-naira projects in Ogun State, and resort to self-funded initiatives
Daniel Akinde and Oluwabori David were on a joint inspection of the 300 KVA transformers purchased with the contributions of members of the Harmony Estate when Rockcity F.M reporter approached them in the evening of Sunday 15th October 2023 to narrate their ordeal on the dilapidated infrastructure in the community that houses thousands of students and staff of the only Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB) in the South West Nigeria.
“What is the lasting solution to this problem?” Daniel asked one of the executive members of Harmony Estate who was with them and some other residents of the community.
Daniel, who is a student and also a computer engineer, was visibly frustrated about his inability to have access to a stable power supply to support his education and businesses.
Despite contributing to installing the 300 KVA transformer, he and others in the community grapple with unstable power due to its excessive load. The experience of Daniel embodies the frustrations of Harmony Estate’s residents.
As if that was not enough, they battle treacherous road conditions caused by recurring floods. This has led to the loss of man-hours to navigate from their houses to their respective schools and places of work, the breakdown of vehicles due to the deplorable state of the roads, and other related challenges.
The lack of proper drainage and road maintenance exacerbates their struggles. The estate, home to thousands of students and staff from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), received a flood and erosion control project.
Being close to the headquarters of the OORBDA, the federal government, through this agency, awarded this project in Harmony Estate worth over N30 million to Akocen Works Ventures Limited.
However, residents like Daniel question the value of these projects. He argues that the work done does not align with the funds allocated, emphasizing the need for accountability and transparency.
“This is the first time we are hearing about the federal government spending on the community for drainage…what was done could not commensurate with what the federal government has spent…the agency concerned, we urged them to come and complete the project…There should be accountability and transparency,” Daniel Demanded.
Oluwabori thereafter advised: “… next time the project is going to happen, or going to do it again, they should carry the community along and as well send supervisors and people from the Ministry to come to supervise the project and see it done properly and is done for real.
The chairman of the Community Development Association (CDA) of Harmony Estate, Professor S.A Balogun, told Rockcity FM that the community was only aware of the projects sometime last year (2022) when contractors started work on the construction of culvert and drainages close to the entrance of the Estate.
“We were not carried along at the beginning…. the project was almost completed when the community was now called to come and see that there is a project going on.
“As you have said now, N30 million…. However, I believe for any erosion control project, there should be drainage on both sides. As you can see, the roads are not okay at all. A lot of gullies on the road and a lot of stagnant water on the road. So, I believe there is much more to be done on this work.
“The agency concerned should look into it and find a lasting solution to the problem so that we can at least enjoy living in this community, Prof. Balogun pleaded.
The findings by Rockcity 101.9 F.M through the GovSpend portal developed by BudgIT indicated that the first tranche of the fund for the project was released to the contractor in 2021 (N19 million), while the second tranche (N12 million) was released in 2022.
It was also discovered that the contract first appeared in the 2021 budget with N22.5 million allocated to it and also in the 2022 budget with N18.7 million allocated to the same project.
Some landlords in the community have been constructing drainages beside their houses while there are some parts of the roads across the Estates that are without drainages worsening the State of the road network in the estate.
Professor Balogun said the community has constructed culverts and drainages to combat incessant flooding in the community.
“We spent a lot of money…The last time, we spent almost N170,000 to fill the gully on the road and then to fill the potholes on the road. And also at another point, we spent almost N330,000 just to make sure the road is motorable. But looking at the incessant rainfall, we have not achieved much because there is no drainage on both sides which the project is supposed to take care of.
The community members urged the federal government to include them in project execution. They expect the contractor to return if the project is incomplete and seek lasting solutions to their infrastructure challenges through future government interventions.
The chairman of the Harmony Estate submitted that the community fully supported the initiative of Rockcity 101.9 FM and BudgIT and will share the new knowledge on project tracking with all members of the community and other CDAs.
In a bid to determine the actual cost of the work executed by contractor compared to the funds it received, Rockcity FM consulted Tohir Olarenwaju Properties to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the project.
Tairu, a member of the Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers and a registered member of the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria, was consulted after Engineer Babalola Olatunji, the Executive Director of the Engineering Department at the Ogun/Oshun River Basin Development Authority, challenged Rockcity FM to invite valuer to scrutinize the work executed and payments made to the contractor:
“They can come now, and we measure it and look at the thing. We have nothing to hide… BudgIT used to come, and I said let us go where the project is. And they can call their experts, their civil engineer and look at the amount and look at the level of the work we have done”, Engineer Babalola submitted.
Rockcity FM sent Freedom of Information request to the management of Ogun Osun River Basin Development Authority requesting the details of the award of the contract relating to the construction of erosion work at the Harmony FUNAAB area.
FOI Request from Rockcity FM
In addressing Rockcity FM’s FOI request, the Managing Director of OORBDA, Mr. Olufemi Odumosu, provided evidence affirming that the contract adhered to due process. Prior to awarding the contract to Akocen Works Ventures Limited, it was noted that two out of the 12 bidding companies were disqualified.
The documents provided by Odumosu included report of the evaluation of technical bids, analysis of financial tender documents, budgetary allocations, evaluation, certification, evidence of construction and payments to the contractor.
The documents revealed that the contract was awarded at the cost of N39 million with the value of “permanent work” put at N31.7 million as at 21st June, 2022 with outstanding payment to the contractor put at N13 million.
The response to the Freedom of Information (FOI) request can be located below:
On the 24th of October 2023, the valuer accompanied our reporter to the Harmony Estate, to assess the value of the executed project concerning the money disbursed to the contractor.
According to the valuer, the worth of the project completed was approximately 22% of the total funds released to the contractor.
He cited inadequate drainage, substandard materials, cost discrepancy, and lack of expert supervision of the project.
According to Tairu, the actual cost of the erosion control project at the estate should be within the range of N6 million and N7 million, valued as of 2022.
Examining the payments made to the contractor and how it compares to the actual project value, the valuer said whereas Akocen Works Ventures Limited received N31.8 million for the work done, the contractor spent approximately 22% (N7 million) of the funds and retained 78% (N24.8 million) as profit.
How contractors spent N11 million for flood projects instead of N243 million disbursed
The Federal Ministry of Environment also paid over N123 million in two tranches (N74 million and N49 million) to Advocacy Visionary Limited on 26th March and 5th April 2022 for the erosion control of Owu Ogbe-Totoro Road and Ibara Ijeja Sokori channelisation works at Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Similarly, on 28th December, 2022, the contract sum of N51 million was released to Rasolak Services Nigeria Limited for the same project by the same Ministry.
The project which received N174 million in payment to contractors, first appeared in the 2021 budget with budgetary allocation of N150 million and was also included in the 2022 budget as an ongoing project with budgetary allocation of N76.5 million.
The execution of this project was difficult to track as the directors of Advocacy Visionary Limited and Rasolak Services Nigeria Limited could not be reached; while the Federal Ministry of Environment is yet to respond to the FOI requests sent to it.
The members of the communities where the project was supposed to be executed said they were not aware of any government intervention in respect of erosion control and channelization works around their areas from 26th March 2022 when the company received the contract fund till the date.
As at the time of filing this report, the release of water from the Oyan dam and heavy rain during the period displaced people in different parts of Ogun State, including Iseri, Lafenwa, Amolaso, and Isale Igbein.
The Ogun state government had on 26th April 2023 in its Annual Flood Alert warned that 23 communities in the state and border towns in Lagos are likely to experience severe flooding this year.
Despite massive infrastructure development in the areas, especially the road and expansive drainage system during the Senator Ibikunle Amosun administration between 2011 and 2019, some of the communities in the area still experienced some level of flooding during the September and October 2023 rain season.
Residents of Ibara, Ijeja, Sokori, Ogbe, Totoro, Owu and its environs where there are supposed to be channelisation and erosion control works said they did not notice any related projects of the federal government along the waterways in the areas between 2022 and 2023.
A man in his 50s who has his shop at Isale Igbein, Duwuda Azeez, said:
“This river you are seeing is called “Odo Elebo”. It used to be a tiny river, but later it became bigger and we have heavy flooding along this area. Thank God during the administration of Governor Amosun, he constructed this bridge, this bridge was initially small but was expanded, and since then, we have not been experiencing much flooding.
“We will only appeal to our people not to dump refuse on the drainage and waterway because it can cause future disaster as more houses are springing up, the water should be allowed to flow. We still need the federal government’s support to help us take care of our roads at Isabo, Dawuda appealed.
In another flood and erosion project in Abeokuta, members of Odo Eran Gbonogun community Obantoko in Odeda Local Government Area also wanted the Federal Ministry of Environment to call the contractor (Degolex Merchants Limited) who was paid N69.9 million in two tranches (on 27th March and 14th April 2022) for the construction and flooding and erosion control to return to the site to justify the money it received by completing the project.
Findings by Rockcity FM revealed that there was no budgetary allocation for the N69.9 million spent on the project.
When the reporter checked the close to N70 million erosion and flood works done by Degolex Merchants Limited in 2022, it was discovered that the concrete and retention wall had been partly damaged and observed that the work was not completed. This is on the background that the work, according to the contractor, has been certified completed to satisfaction by the Federal Ministry of Environment.
The manager of the block industry beside the project, Olaleye Kazeem narrated how the part of the concrete and retention wall of the drainage collapsed about three weeks after construction.
He added that the owner of the block industry had to construct further drainage at the front of his business and fill up with sand the path of the drainage that collapsed to prevent further flooding that might affect his business and community members.
Another trader, Mrs Ayodele Olajumoke who has her shops close to the project said the construction started in 2021 and despite this, flooding continues to affect her business.
A member of the Odo Eran Gbonogun community, Alamutu Yinusa has this to say on the project:
“It was because the project was not completed that was why part of the wall of the drainage collapsed and some of the casting was abandoned…and not completed.
Dele Olarenwaju, another member of the Surulere community close to the project site, added:
“They came with excavation and did channelisation, the retention wall, and culvert at Odo Eran, but our community affected by erosion … the work was not properly done especially retention wall and we are not in the know about the amount released for this project
“The Ogun State Government constructed this road last year but the construction of drainages along this waterway was not completed affecting residents of Surulere at Odo Eran in Gbonogun here.”
Rockcity F.M also reached out to Degolex Merchants Limited, which received over N69 million between 27th March and April 2022 for the erosion and flood works at Obantoko Gbonogun Odo Eran.
One of the directors of the Degolex Merchants Limited, who identified himself as Bode Olabode, said the project was executed two to three years ago, but there was a setback in its full execution, accusing those in charge of awarding the contract of nepotism:
“The funding is not complete like that. Because it is supposed to be ongoing. But you know that if the people are not from the zone when they bring new…some Directors, they just remove it and allocate it to their zone.
“The work was done, certified by the Ministry and that is all. The Ministry signed “done”, work completed. They have zonal supervision. It was done three years ago, signed and sealed. I don’t know why you are calling for the project. They gave the bill of quantity, and we came and did the work, signed and certified by them. And this thing was given to us, a completion certificate”, Olabode explained.
When Rockcity F.M informed him that part of the concrete wall of the project collapsed some weeks after completion, Olabode responded:
“You know erosion work is not predictable. Let me expatiate further: the most disastrous work to do is flood work…. you will say you have covered everywhere; it is the water we are talking about…Water will look for a way. If you block it, it will find its way.
“Erosion work is a multi-billion-naira project. Anything related to erosion is in the region of billions of naira. We just felt that people were suffering in the community.”
Tairu, the Managing Partner, Tohir Olarenwaju Properties, while evaluating the execution Odo Eran Gbonogun flood control project said the projects executed was approximately 16% of the total funds released to the contractor.
The expert valuer explained that if the project was executed in 2021 and constructed to standard, its value should be within the range of N10 million to N11 million.
This indicated that the contractor received N69.9 million for the work executed at Odo Eran Gbonogun Obantoku but spent 16% (N11 million) of the contract sum and pocketed 84% as profit.
Resulting from this investigation, the community members urged the Federal Government, supervising Ministries and agencies to ensure that the contractors return to justify the funds received for the projects. Their story sheds light on the challenges faced by communities grappling with flooding in Nigeria.
This Special Investigative Journalism Series has uncovered a web of corruption, incomplete projects, and communities struggling with flooding across Ogun State. It highlights the urgent need for transparency, accountability, and community involvement in government projects.
The stories from Harmony Estate at FUNAAB area, Odo Eran Gbonogun Obantoko to Owu Ogbe-Totoro Road and Ibara Ijeja Sokori in Abeokuta, demonstrate the importance of proper project execution and the need for funds to match the results. It is a call for change and a plea for better governance.
This investigation received the input and support of:
Dr Niran Malaolu – Mentor/Editor (Rockcity 101.9 FM)
Tokunbo Oloruntola – Manager/Editor (Rockcity 101.9 FM)
Femi Osinuga – Narrator/HOP (Rockcity 101.9 FM)
Wale Ogunbiyi – Audio/Video editor (Rockcity 101.9 FM)
Precious Ighalo Chima – Co-host (Rockcity 101.9 FM)
Joshua Godspower Chidiebere – ICT/Graphics (Rockcity 101.9 FM)
Paschal Chiedozie – Mentor (ICIR)
Iyanu Bolarinwa – Managing Editor/Coordinator (BudgIT)
Michael Daramola – Contributor (BudgIT)
Micheal Pabiekun- Infographics (BudgIT)
Oluwatimilehin Olugbemi – FOI request/Infogrphics coordination (BudgIT)
Tairu Olarenwaju – Expert Valuer (Tohir Olarenwaju Properties)