We should actually dub these FEC meetings the federal tender’s board. All it does especially in the past weeks is to award frivolous contracts. There are many of them, but the one that boggles the mind is the N257 billion road contracts it awarded for the extension of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road and the Kubwa Expressway. The mere mention of the amount is causing the Great Zik of Africa to turn in his grave. It is obnoxious, outrageous and pernicious.
The road already has four lanes therefore all they are adding to it is six extra ones. They had hardly announced the contract when the loggers moved in to cut down those beautiful mango and neem trees. Those trees cost the Nigerian taxpayer several hundreds of Naira under the regime of Ibrahim Babangida. Those trees gave shade to our heads and oxygen and absorbed the carbon dioxide that is emitted from the rickety tokunbo cars and the ever winding government convoys that ply that route on a daily basis. Those trees help us to conserve our environment and can never be replaced. Those trees carry in their trunks the history of Abuja and they can never be replaced. Well, too bad the government has no plan to replace them.
It is a shame that Mr. President who happens to be a northerner, and who should know that desertification and drought is already affecting virtually all parts of the north would sit at a council where such a decision is taken. It is really ludicrous that Mr. President would sign off the lives of those trees with fiat. It is also very pernicious that Mr. President would approve the contract for the widening of that road when what is needed to stop the horrible traffic on both ends is not more cars and more Trunk A roads, but an effective and efficient rail or other forms of mass transportation. It is definitely not a priority at a time when over 70% of Nigerians are unemployed. It is not a priority when universities are closing because the government has refused to pay teachers. It is not a priority when primary school pupils learn under trees because they have no classrooms. It is simply outrageous.
I am also equally miffed and will continue to cite this road project cost as totally unacceptable. I know I can do nothing about it. But I did the mathematics of the project. It means that the entire road is 180 kilometres on each stretch which brings it to 360 kilometres. At N257 billion, it means that each kilometre stretch is being constructed at N730 million. God has been building paradise since he created man, but even He did not use that much to construct the roads which, the Holy Books tell us are paved with gold. I am waiting to see whether this road would be paved with gold from Ilesha or Ghana. There are plus or minus four or five bridges on the whole stretch. But that does not excuse the cost. We have bitumen in abundance in this country, so why that astronomical cost?
But, the real evidence that that contract is over-inflated came from another contract awarded by the same council. It’s the contract for the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Benin road. It was awarded for N12.2 billion according to works minister Hassan Lawal. It was handed over to Messrs RCC and Borini Prono both of whom are to work on the contract in two stretches. The two stretches are 271 kilometres in all. The topography and the soil texture is more difficult than those of Abuja, the kilometreage is about the same with the Abuja one. There are perhaps, more bridges on that stretch of road than there would ever be on the Abuja road contract. Surely, if nobody sees anything wrong with this contract, they are either benefitting outright mischievous. As they say here, Allah ya yisa!