NB: This report was facilitated by Newsclick Foundation for Investigative Journalism (NFIJ)
Regrettably, what was originally conceptualised as one of the ways of spreading dividends of democracy to the grassroots, has now become a steady flow of cash to a selected and priviledged few year-in-year-out. The idea of constituency projects was up until the year 2000, a strange lexicon in Nigeria’s political dictionary. While it was coined and adopted to help spread the presence of the federal/state governments to the nooks and crannies of the country, through elected representatives of the people, however, few years down the line, what most Nigerians can benefit, are endless sights of either non-functional or abandoned projects running into trillions of naira. While the lawmakers are perpetual culprits, however, the state and federal governments are also not leading by example. No reason is cogent enough to justify what has now become a norm in our national life. Newsclickng.com’s Senior Editor, OLAOTAN FALADE in this investigative series uncovers several sights and sites of abandoned constituency projects in the South West region of the country.
Read part one of the investigation here
The ancestral state of Oyo despite its cultural relevance in Yoruba history did not fare any better. A brief tour of the state and it was as if the lawmakers ran an association of abandoned projects in their various states/constituencies.
Even the interior part of the capital, Ibadan, has its share of abandoned projects. From the Federal Government’s famous Liberty Stadium (now Obafemi Awolowo Stadium) which was built in 1960 when Nigeria gained independence to projects facilitated by both state and federal lawmakers, one thing was synonymous to all – abandonment!
One of such projects perhaps so glaring for all to see were those facilitated by a former rep, Hon. Saheed Akinola Fijabi who represented Ibadan South-West/North-West Federal Constituency area of Oyo State in the seventh and eight House but lost to Hon. Olajide Stanley in the present Ninth Assembly.
The projects, mostly solar powered boreholes, were awarded by Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority. However, in less than two years of its completion and commission, the projects scattered in strategic places (including government primary and secondary schools) within the constituency are all in sorry states today.
The Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority, Abeokuta, (OORBDA) is one of the River Basin Authorities established under Decree No. 35 of November, 1987, to pursue the objectives of harnessing, developing, conserving available land and water resources in the River Basin.
This was done to improve the standard of living and quality of lives of people living within the catchment area, through irrigation agronomy, livestock, fishery and forestry and supply of water for both human and animal consumption, through continuous cost reduction, efficient communication and better services.
Under this legal mandate, the river basin authority has powers to award water project contracts for the benefit of residents of the area. However, despite the billions of naira approved for the projects, there’s obviously little or nothing to show for it as most communities under OORBDA’s mandate still depend on surrounding rivers for water, thus exposing them to the outbreak of several water and airborne illnesses.
In Igbojaiye, a small community of about 29,000 inhabitants in Itesiwaju Local Government Area of the state, residents face the risk of water-borne ailments as they are forced daily to consume dirty water.
People here remain deprived of good water because funds meant for providing this appear to have been mismanaged by officials.
Residents of the farming community were elated in 2010 when the construction of an earth dam was started.
The construction of the earth dam was for the supply of water for irrigation, domestic use as well as for fishing activities in Igbojaiye and neighbouring communities.
Farmers and dwellers in the town who thought the completion of the dam will provide clean water for them and neighbouring communities like Okaka, Otu, Baba Ode, others are today disillusioned.
The projects were also handled by same OORBDA.
Construction of mini town hall for N100m
The lawmaker representing Ibadan North Federal Constituency, Adewale Olaide has allegedly claimed to have constructed a mini town hall for N100 million as his constituency project.
The lawmaker in 2021, nominated the construction of the town hall as part of his constituency project.
The Federal Government has since last year budgeted N100 million and released funds for the construction of the town hall.
The contract was awarded to Ihechi and Praise Limited, a company registered in 2015 with operational headquarters in Abuja, the Nigerian capital city.
While the town hall has been built, however, construction experts faulted the humongous amount used for the project.
Some civil engineers who spoke to Newsclickng.com said constructing a similar town hall averages between N10 million and N15 million and that includes payment for labour and furnishing.
One of the engineers said the amount budgeted is enough to construct and equip 10 town halls in different locations.
“How can you claim to build a mini town hall for N100m? What were the materials used? That amount will comfortable give you 10 modern town halls. I wish to know the engineer and contractor who handled the project so we can know how they arrived at such inflated amount,” he said.
Constructed but abandoned constituency projects in Okeho, Kajola Local Government
Meanwhile, aside the menace of lawmakers and relevant agencies abandoning projects or not even constructing one at all after release of funds by the federal government, some communities are battling with under utilization of the few that have been commissioned.
Okeho and her environs in Kajola Local Government Area of Oyo State is an example. Captured under Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa Federal Constituency of Oyo and Oyo North Senatorial District, Okeho can be referred to as a haven for many unutilized constituency projects. With or without the commissioning of these projects, they are yet to be beneficial to the people of the community as they remain under lock and key. There has been no value addition to the community.
According to a concerned resident, Kajola Awojobi, “During the seventh Senate between 2011 and 2015, Senator Hosea Ayoola Agboola popularly known as Halleluyah, representing Oyo North Senatorial District in the Red Chamber, Okeho was a beneficiary of two gigantic health centers, which were facilitated by the Igbojaiye-born politician. Initially, these particular projects brought so much joy to the people of Okeho and her environs. One of the health centers is at Alaapa Area of Okeho, along Olowo-Ata, while the second one at Isale Alubo, area of Okeho.
“Although these projects were completed, that of Alaapa was commissioned by the Senator himself, but after the commissioning of the project till now, no single patient had accessed medical care at these locations till date. As such, it is neither viable in terms of the provision of health care services nor employment for healthcare practitioners. Although, it cannot be ascertained if that of Isale-Alubo was commissioned but it has been completed, with a Mikano generator in the hospital’s compound and other medical equipment lying fallow within the premises. These two beautiful edifices are now surrounded by bushes and inhabited by lizards and wall geckos. These two projects, after almost a decade, are just there, adding no value to anyone”.
For some reasons, the ‘fountain of knowledge’ state also appeared on the list of states with abandoned constituency projects in South West not minding its status as one of the six youngest states in Nigeria.
Investigations by this Newsclickng.com revealed that over N6.6 billion was allocated for 160 projects between 2015 and 2018 in various communities in the three senatorial districts and six federal constituencies in the state by lawmakers, but as usual, the projects are either poorly executed, non-existent or abandoned.
Abandoned Primary Health Centres Iropora, Igede Ekiti
Located on a highest elevation in the Irepodun /Ifelodun LGA of Ekiti State, the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Iropora has been abandoned since 2015. No particular reason was given for the abandonment.
Members of the over 10,000 community said their joy was cut short when the project was abruptly stopped at an early stage with no explanation whatsoever. According to them, the foundation of the community health centre was laid over six years ago.
Having survived for years with only one PHC, their hope for a better facility dissolved as the project funded in the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project of the National Assembly for N12 million remains dilapidated six years after.
The constituency project was nominated by the lawmaker representing Ado Ekiti/Irepodun/Ifelodun Federal Constituency of Ekiti State at the lower chambers of the National Assembly under the supervision of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).
At the site of the project, it was difficult walking through as the multi-million naira project had been abandoned for years and is outgrown by grasses. At one point, this reporter was unsure if there were no wild animals domiciled there. N12 million was appropriated for the project.
Members of the community say the only available healthcare facility for them is a privately-owned hospital that is expensive to patronise.
The state of the two projects confirmed work indeed started but was later abandoned.
Interestingly, despite the abandoned state of the two projects, there was another N12 million budgetary allocation provided for the completion of the primary healthcare centre located in Igede Ekiti.
Bushy, abandoned civil centre in Ado Ekiti
Another abandoned project worth mentioning in Ekiti was that facilitated by the then senator representing Ekiti Central, Babafemi Ojodu. Built on an expansive land behind the state’s water corporation office along Ado-Ekiti-Akure road, the civil centre which is now all covered with grass was aimed at providing a relaxation spot and befitting events centre for constituents.
The grasses have so grown that without the help of a resident, one might be ignorant of the expansive building lying underneath it.
“You need to see the high hopes and energy when this project commenced. It was facilitated by Senator Babafemi Ojodu during the seventh assembly (2011 – 2015). We all thought it will be completed judging by the energy they deployed at the earlier stage. All of a sudden the contractors just stopped work and the result is what you have here now. It’s been like this for close to ten years now. Some parts of the building are already in a sorry a state,” a concerned resident said.
A former councillor in the area who craved anonymity said the project was abandoned long before Ojodu left office as senator. He said the senator who took over from Ojodu also did not deem it fit to press for the completion.
“It’s rather unfortunate that a project as big as this is lying waste. You can imagine the liveliness and development it would have brought to this area if it were functional. The senator who initiated it abandoned it long before the expiration of his tenure. He now works directly with President Muhammadu Buhari as Special Adviser and yet he still cannot use that opportunity and influence to come finish what he started. Other senators who came on board after him never cared. We hope the incumbent senator, Opeyemi Bamidele will see the need to resuscitate it”, he said.
Abandoned Primary Health Centre and borehole in Oluwaseun Quarters, Oke Ureje, Ado Ekiti
A Primary Health Care Centre and motorized borehole at Oluwaseun Quarters, Eureka Poly Road, Oke Ureje, Ado Ekiti facilitated by Opeyemi Bamidele who was the then rep, Ado-Ekiti/Irepodun-Ifelodun Federal Constituency, now Senator representing Ekiti Central.
While the building housing the PHC still looks quite attractive, however it was heavily deserted with just one or two nurses on ground. The borehole within the compound, which formed a single project with the PHC was however in bad shape.
“I think the project was poorly maintained after inauguration. The borehole didn’t serve people more than three months before it packed up. Also the nurses deserted the PHC at a time and the place was taken over by weeds. They just resumed back to work this year,” a resident who identified himself as Fatai said.
One of the nurses on ground refused speaking with this reporter on the grounds that she was not on authority to do so. She advised that the reporter comes back at a later time to speak with designated authority.
Multi-million naira community hospital project delivered but abandoned at Omuo-Ekiti
A multi-million naira community hospital built by the Office of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Nigeria (OSSAP-SDGs) as a constituency project facilitated by Senator Biodun Olujimi has been abandoned.
Biodun Olujimi, using the OSAP-MDGs nominated the construction of a community hospital as her constituency project.
The hospital is a 20-bed Primary Health Center built to serve the residents of Omuo-Ekiti in Ekiti State.
Newsclickng.com reports that the construction of the community hospital awarded to Onab Multi Links Nigeria Limited at a multi-million contract sum has been completed, and overgrown by weed and deserted, and serves no purpose despite the dire medical needs of residents of the area.
Newsclickng.com could not immediately ascertain why the project was abandoned and left to rot away.
The state of the living spring is not left out. From poorly constructed to abandoned or highly inflated cost of projects, Nigerian lawmakers have no boundary.
N30million for supply of single transformer at Obokun
Recently, the lawmaker representing Obokun/Oriade federal constituency, Oluwole Oke was tongue lashed for expending N30 million on a single transformer.
Oke had in 2020 nominated the installation of a 300KVA Transformer in the community as his constituency project. A Project the federal government had since last year allocated N30 million to get it executed.
The project that is sited at the Obokun, Oriade area of Osun state was supervised by the Rural Electrification Agency and awarded to HKMA Global Resource and Construction Company Limited.
However, transformer dealers faulted the N30m price tag. According to them, a brand new 300KVA transformer sells for N2.9 million for high tension and N2.8 million for low tension.
Worse still, transformer has been delivered since December 2020, but yet to be installed while the community keeps living in darkness.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker denied knowledge of the project when asked: “I do not know what you are talking about, please use the Freedom of Information Act and request the Rural Electrification Agency to provide you details of the project, I am not aware of the project,” he said.
Abandoned community hospital renovation after N24.2 million budget
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has abandoned the renovation of Oke Ogi community hospital after the federal government set aside N24.2 million for the project.
The federal government had in 2021, set aside the sum of N24.2 million under the NPHCA budget allocation for the community hospital.
In the project, NPHCDA is to use the money to renovate and equip Iree community healthcare centre located at Oke Ogi ward 10 in Boripe Local Government Area of the state.
Despite the budget allocation, the renovation was abandoned while the community hospital continues to be in a deplorable condition.
This is even as most residents depend on the hospital to access healthcare.
UBEC, lawmaker construct three classrooms block for N35 million
Lawmaker representing Boluwaduro/Ifedayo/Ila federal constituency, Olufemi Fakeye and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) have constructed three classroom blocks for N35 million as a constituency project.
Newsclickng.com gathered that Fakeye had in 2020 using the UBEC, facilitated the renovation of a block of classrooms at Oke-Irun Community Primary School in Boluwaduro Local Government Area of the state as his constituency project.
Although the original plan was to renovate the school, three classrooms block was constructed at the sum of N35 million.
The project that has since received N35 million allocation from the federal in 2020 was supervised by the UBEC and was awarded to Tamgaj Corporate Services Limited, a company registered in 2009 and is located at Ilorin the Kwara state capital.
Though it has been completed, it is yet to be put into use as the classrooms are locked.
However, a civil engineer and a quantity surveyor who spoke with Newsclickng.com said that amount was on the high side for a three classroom block.
According to him, building three classroom blocks average N10 million while pointing out that with N35 million, one can build nine classrooms of three blocks each and that includes payments for consultancies, labour and furnishing.
Ondo State also has its share of inflated, abandoned or non-existent constituency projects facilitated by its lawmakers.
Constituents construct wooden bridge after lawmaker abandoned N35m Bridge
Residents of the Ifeoluwa community in Akoko North-East / Akoko Northwest federal constituency of Ondo State have tasked themselves to build a wooden bridge after a former lawmaker who represented the constituency, Stephen Olemija, abandoned the N35 million bridge construction despite the 60% funds released by the federal government for the project.
Olemija who represented the Akoko North-East / Akoko Northwest federal constituency at the National Assembly in the House of Representatives nominated the bridge as his constituency project in 2018.
Under the deal, the lawmaker said, a bridge will be constructed at the Ifeoluwa community at the sum of N35 million while the government releases 60% of the fund.
However, findings by Newsclickng.com revealed that the project has since been abandoned despite the sum of 60% fund released by the federal government.
Community residents, having realized that the lawmaker and his co-allies in the government have abandoned the N35 million bridge after collecting 60% funds release, tasked each other, contributed monies, and constructed a wooden bridge.
A senior government official in the Ondo state civil service, who does not want his name mentioned accused the lawmakers of conniving with government officials to divert monies meant for constituency projects.
He said there are many abandoned projects in the state despite the fact that monies have been allocated to them while calling on the anti-graft agencies to develop special interests investigating the state activities to uncover monies that have been stolen through corrupt means.
N23.7m Police post abandoned in Ifedore Local Government
The construction of police station at the Ero community in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State has been abandoned despite the sum of N23.7 million allocated to the project.
Tajudeen Adefisoye, a lawmaker representing Idanre and Ifedore nominated the construction of police station in the place as his constituency project.
Part of the project the lawmaker said was designed to ensure proper security in the community is also to fence the police post after its construction.
The project that was awarded to Job Integrated Resources Limited and supervised by National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons have since been abandoned.
N180 million university clinic abandoned despite 120% fund release
The construction of clinical sciences building at the University of Medical Science, Ondo State has been abandoned despite the sum of 120% fund release for the project.
Newsclickng.com gathered that Peter Abiola, a lawmaker from Ondo West nominated the clinical science building as a constituency project.
The federal government under the zonal intervention project in the year 2018 allocated the sum of N70 million to the project while the 70% fund was released.
Although the project was not done, the federal government in the year 2019 allocated another N110 million to the project with 50% fund release.
Worse still, despite the release of these funds, the project was abandoned while grasses have taken over the building site.
The project was awarded by Ragal Consult Limited and supervised by Project Development Institute.
Some senior officials of the university while confirming the development said they are not happy the project has been abandoned and appealed to the lawmaker and the federal government to complete the project because of its importance in health and education.
Owing to its development and megacity status, Lagos does not record much of abandoned constituency projects facilitated by lawmakers. However, some of the projects inflated and abandoned are those executed by the state government.
Most of the constituency projects embarked by lawmakers in the state are captured under the empowerment scheme and most times difficult to track or monitor.
Multi-million naira water channel remains abandoned four years after commencement
Construction of a water channel at the Demurin/Ogunsowobo Igbonla in Ketu, Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State has remained abandoned four years after the project was initiated.
Newsclickng.com gathered that the project awarded to Wecandoit Nigeria Limited has been abandoned since 2016.
This is even as the residents say the project has since become a death trap and health hazard while appealing to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State Governor to help ensure it is executed.
LASG spends N5.2 million on single borehole
The Lagos State Government spent the sum of N5, 261,003.53 to construct a single borehole in Kadara Primary School located at the Ebute Meta area of the state.
A hydrology firm told Newsclickng.com that drilling a single borehole in Lagos does not cost above N1.5 million. The hydrology firm added that the amount should cover drilling and casing, installation of a solar-powered submersible pump, steel tower for the tanks, tanks, pipes, joints & suckers, installation and labour.
The Lagos State Government in 2018 allocated the sum of N5, 261,003.53 for the construction of borehole and overhead tank in Kadara Primary school, Ebute Meta.
The contract that was awarded to Sanju Sunny Global Ventures, a company registered in 2014 was supervised by the project department of Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB) and was meant to be completed in four weeks. But it lasted three years before completion.
Empowerment programmes: Lawmakers’ untraceable constituency projects
As if devising ways to avoid physical projects which usually attracted the nosy attention of anti-graft agencies, newsmen, NGOs, constituents and other interested stakeholders, some lawmakers deliberately settled for untraceable projects mostly hidden under the veil of ‘empowerment programmes’.
This, Newsclickng.com gathered involved spending millions of naira acquiring some items such as mini buses, tricycles, motorcycles, transformers, sewing machines, food stuffs, wheelbarrows and other work tools usually kept for months in a hidden warehouse. Most times, the items are not distributed until few months to another election year.
“That is another pipeline of siphoning public funds for the lawmakers. These lawmakers are smart. They know the agency and other regulatory bodies will come for inspection and verification of physical projects. So they shifted base to empowerment programmes. They acquire all sorts of items and keep them for years. When another election year is approaching they discriminatorily distribute the items as incentives. Don’t be surprised if you see such happening now because the 2023 general elections are fast approaching. They will brand the items like it was acquired with their personal funds and start giving it to people loyal to them. Majority of those items was what you saw some aggrieved youths looting during the ENDSARS protests. But the agency is not relenting in ensuring that they (the lawmakers) account for every kobo allocated to them. No matter how smart they play, the agency will always be smarter,” a senior official of the ICPC told Newsclickng.com.
According to the ICPC, sectoral allocation showed that lawmakers allocated a huge N26.1bn for empowerment, which is often difficult to track or trace. The commission said the sum of N3.76bn was at the risk of being stolen because the amount was not budgeted for specific projects.
According to the agency, states where lawmakers appropriated budget for no particular project are Lagos (N1bn), Ekiti (91.5m), Ondo (N220m), Osun (N314.8m), Oyo (N98.4m), Imo (N187.5m), Bayelsa (N200m), Cross River (N632m), Kano (N120m), Adamawa (N100m), Bauchi (N330m), Borno (N222m), Gombe (N194m), Benue (N70m) and Kogi (N367m).
Projects: Executive versus Legislature?
Newsclickng.com reports that there have been lingering arguments on the constitutionality of constituency projects usually facilitated by the lawmakers.
Erudite scholar and lawyer, Dr. Fred Odutola in an interview with Newsclickng.com said: “Inferably constituency project funds is like a gift to the law makers on a serious note because there are no checks and balances. There is no reporting structure on how the funds allocated were spent. All they do with the money is to keep it to buy voters at the next election. We need to put strategic plans in place to checkmate how the funds are spent and managed just like it’s done in Dubai and other serious countries around the world. Until we get there in Nigeria, we will continue to see all those abandoned project here and there and some will even be death trap to people”.
An Abuja based lawyer, Paul Akpan faulted the practice without mincing words: “The constituency project is unconstitutional. It has no legal backing and offends a great deal of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the principle of separation of powers.”
“If Nigeria is operating a true federal system of government, the local government knows what they want and are lacking and will do well in generating the funds themselves and providing for themselves those amenities without the help of one legislator from the center”.
As if aligning with the lawyer, lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial district, Senator Smart Adeyemi at a special programme – Open Square held in April 2022, said lawmakers cannot go into a competition with the executive arm of government at federal or state level.
“Talking about us going out of our purview; if you’re campaigning and people make a request that you construct roads … we are to complement the government,” he explained. “Legislators do not have executive powers.
“If I pledge to construct a hospital or health centres and my state government is already doing that, I have to divert and do something else.
“So, we need to understand the roles of the legislators, we are not to compete with the executive because the resources are in their hands; we just receive peanuts to maintain ourselves and our constituents,” he said.
Lawmakers do not consult us before nominating projects – Constituents
Meanwhile, residents of the various constituencies where the lawmakers sited their projects did not waste time to deny claims that they were consulted before nominating and erecting projects in their domain.
“They become bosses once they are elected. That is when they will start walking around with bodyguards and several Personal Assistants. You can’t ever get through to them either on phone or anywhere. They are always busy. But during elections, they will have time to even live with us for days if we so demand. How can you wake up one morning and decide that you want to nominate projects for people you don’t even know their immediate needs. They should learn to consult their constituents before nominating projects. Peoples’ needs differ and you can only know them if you engage them or seek their opinion, ” an Ado Ekiti resident, Samson Aderibigbe said.
Another resident in Ibadan who identified himself as Raphael said claims by lawmakers that they sponsor projects are false and ridiculous. “My grief with the lawmakers over time is how they make it seem like they are doing us a favour through the various projects erected in their names. Their job as lawmakers stops at just nomination. The projects are financed by the Federal Government. So they are not doing us a favour. And they must learn to interact with people on what their needs are before nominating the projects. Most projects are lying waste in Oyo generally because it does not meet the criteria and needs of the people. Engage the people, listen to them and get the best out of that interaction. That way whatever you bring on board will be well utilized and guided against vandals by the people themselves.”
A youth leader in Ogun, Segun Adewale while speaking with this reporter, decried what he described as the ‘ghost-mode’ of lawmakers and other politicians after elections. “I am a youth leader in Yewa community and I preside over 20,000 members of our association drawn from schools, religious organisations, etc. I know how well these politicians consult me and other leaders during electioneering periods. They are so gentle and easy to approach. However, once they are declared winner, you never get to see them again till another election year. No consultation whatsoever on even what they want to do for the community. They activate a total ‘ghost-mode’ and never pick your call when you reach out to them. And that is why most of them who behave this way never get reelected. We are waiting for them again in 2023. Our approach will surely be different this time,” he said with a tone of vengeance in his voice.
Constituency projects not ‘gifts’ from lawmakers – ICPC
Meanwhile, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has said constituency projects were never gifts or donations to communities from legislators, but projects built by government with public funds.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said this at a recent town hall meeting in Akure, organised for various stakeholders, tagged: “My Constituency, My Project”.
Owasanoye, represented by the Commissioner in charge of Osun, Ekiti and Ondo States, Mr Baba Shuaib, said people’s representatives (legislators) just selected the projects based on closeness to the people.
Owasanoye urged Nigerians to always get involved in projects being sited in their communities and always request audience from their representatives.
“We wish to state with emphasis that constituency and other projects are funded by government with public money.
“This means that the projects are not gifts or donations to your community by political representatives.
“They belong to you as fruits of national resources and government responsibility to the people.
“Your representatives in the legislature, who select constituency projects do so because they are close to you, and it is expected that they understand your needs better.
“You should therefore work with them to make sure that projects chosen for you actually reflect your needs across to them.
“You can follow up on your projects approved for your community by asking for information on them,” he said.