There Is Something Rotten Going On In Bayelsa State

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

There is something rotten going on in Bayelsa State. A group of citizens have found a way to defraud the state and are getting away with it. The state Assembly knows this; and so does the state governor.

According to a news account (Vanguard: Wednesday October 20, 2004):
“The completion of the second phase of the Bayelsa State secretariat complex is to gulp N1.1billion. The project which was initially awarded to G. Cappa in 2000 at the cost of N650 million as a four storey building was revoked last year when it became clear that the company was bankrupt and was awarded to Cat Construction Company with modification to a five storey edifice.”

First, how did a N650 millions contact ended up costing N1.1 billion?

Well according to Mr. Reuben Okoya, the Commissioner of Special Projects, this was due to “the sharp increase in the contractual sum to the prevailing inflationary trend in the country.” Is inflation that high in Nigeria, or, is this peculiar to Bayelsa State alone?

Second, the Commissioner went on to say that the secretariat “would rank as one of the best secretariats in the country.” Now, whether the building turns out to be the best in the country is of no relevance. Usefulness, quality and durability are what should count. Aesthetics matters; but that should be secondary. One hope this is not going to be a case of leaking roofs, cracked walls, non-functioning toilets, and a fire-vulnerable structure within five-years or so of launching; and that there is money set aside for repairs and renovations as the years passes?

Third, according to Mr. Okoya, the original contract was revoked “when it became clear that G. Cappa does not have the capacity to continue with the project and it was awarded to Cat Construction Company.” Ok, but what happened to the money that was paid to the wayward company? Isn’t the government of Bayelsa State entitled to a refund (original sum, interest and penalty)? Apparently not!

The state have no interest in getting its money back (N650 million Naira in all), this according to the commissioner. The Bayelsa State government has no resources to pursue big-time crooks; but has the wherewithal to pursue petty crooks. In other words, the government would rather go after petty crooks than go after the sharks and the monster leeches that cause the greatest havoc and decay that is now pervasive within the government and the elites in Bayelsa State. It was this mess, this decadence and this corruption that led the state to award G. Cappa the construction contract in the first place.

What manner of precedence is this? This is corruption. This is theft. This is gross irresponsibility on the part of the state! Does the state not have competent legal officers to pursue the rogues who perpetrated this fraud?

Fourth, a group of incompetents are awarded a contract; they then decided to show their true color by being ineffectual. What did the government of Alamieyeseigha do? They re-awarded the contract at a higher rate and let the daylight robbers “leave town” with N650 million or so!

So, does it mean that if the current contactor (Cat Construction Company) decides to go into disarrays and then feign incompetence and abandon work, that they too would go unpunished and be allowed to keep billions of naira that belong to the public? My goodness, is Mr. Alamieyeseigha comfortable with this criminal arrangement?

Any wonder then that contract jobs are never fully executed in Nigeria? A grossly unqualified person or group of people, banking on their political connections gets a contract, and in turn this contract is sold to another person or groups and so on and so forth. At the end of the day, this same contract would have changed hand 3-6 times – with each succeeding person/group having their cuts or kickbacks. In this case therefore, a N650 million contract ended up costing almost twice the original amount. And if Cat Construction Company defaults on its responsibility, the state might just be dense enough to re-award the contract for N2.1 billion. This is abuse of authority and an I-don’t-care robbery by public officials!

By the way: who own G. Cappa and Cat Construction Company? Who are the major stakeholders of these companies? Is there a personal relationship between Governor Alamieyeseigha and these companies? Is there a personal relationship between Commissioner Rueben Okoya and these companies? Is there a relationship between these companies and members of the state cabinet? And what is the role and position of the Bayelsa State Assembly in these matters?

How incompetent and unthinking can the Bayelsa State Government be? How incompetent and unthinking can the Bayelsa State Governor be? Why, why in the name of the Lord would he allow construction to begin during rainy season knowing full well that because of the topography and the weather pattern of the state construction should begin and end during the “dry season?” This oversight added to the astronomical cost of the contact.

It is my position that G. Cappa Construction Company be sued. The company must be made to refund all the money it owe the state. In addition, the governor and his commissioners too should be sanctioned!

There are no other ways to describe what took place but to call it theft, corruption and gross incompetence on the part of various state ministries and commissioners. But ultimately, Governor Alamieyeseigha should be held responsible for this rotten deal…the fleecing of the public treasury.

Finally, a short commentary on M.D. Yusuf’s “admission of wrong-doing” before the Nigerian Congress as reported by various Nigerian Newspapers. He was quoted as saying: “I was in London and needed money and he gave me as loan. Sometimes I pay back and sometimes I don’t. We have been friends for long. Sometimes one thousand pound, sometimes two thousand pounds…”

M.D. Yusuf’s defense is so insulting. This man has no shame, no scruples and no conscience. My goodness, he is so brazen. Either way one looks at it, and by his own admission, he committed an offence and is therefore not trust worthy. Perhaps he has never heard of “Conflict of interest,” “Influence Peddling” and “Abuse of Power.” This man committed all three — all of which are or should be illegal especially if one hold position of trust and authority in government. It is unfortunate that the Nigerian Congress and other legal bodies will simply white-wash this scandal and let him go.

President Obasanjo is fighting “war against corruption.” Yeah right! And because Nigeria is now ranked third behind Haiti and Bangladesh or so, government officials are now claiming that we are making progress in our effort to arrest corruption. What lies…what nonsense…what hogwash! We all know the thieves amongst us; yet we bestow state and national honor on them. We give them chieftaincy titles. These crooks get front-row seats in the Church and get special prayers from their pastors after donating ill-gotten money. We hail and revere these people. People without visible or known means of income are millionaires, yet nobody questions them. A man suddenly attaches Ph.D to his name without doing the rigorous and systemic work that is required – and no one questions him. We forget that, that person is perpetrating fraud, lies and deceits.

Norman, Oklahoma

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1 comment

Anonymous January 15, 2006 - 7:18 am

Thank you for your efforts to save our state.


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