Wanton profligacy and contractual recklessness

Abandoned bridges in Ogun State

By Oladeinde Olawoyin

For the umpteenth time, I’d say that Nigeria cannot afford the wanton profligacy and contractual recklessness going on in states across the Federation. If you’ve been to parts of Abeokuta North, Sango-Otta, Lambe, Oke Aro, Alagbole-Akute and other parts of Ogun West, these pictures would resonate with you. Now if you crunch the data on sub-national debts and move around states (including Ogun), the nightmare becomes scarier. This is perhaps one subject that everyone pays no attention to because, well, (a majority of) the people don’t care. But we will all certainly pay for this someday.
The projects pictured here are abandoned bridges whose construction dates back to the era of former governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State. Now, the tragedy isn’t that the present government isn’t interested in completing these projects (partly for reasons of finances and, perhaps, dirty politics), the actual tragedy is that the materials used for the projects are now broken/rusty. Literally. A complete waste! If any government chooses to complete these projects tomorrow, it would probably need to re-start the procurement process all over. Completing the projects with these obsolete materials would ultimately usher in another tragedy waiting to happen. In effect, across Ogun State today lie multi-billion naira projects washed away in the waters of sheer profligacy—-and shady contractual deals!
I heard Governor Kayode Fayemi brag a few weeks ago that he would ensure the completion of Ekiti Airport before vacating office. I have been to Akure Airport, and to Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital. I will never see the basis for having an airport in a state like Ekiti—–at least in the immediate. Even Akure Airport is struggling for survival, yet Ondo generates far more resources compared to Ekiti.  The roads connecting Akure to Ado (like other roads connecting Ekiti communities) are a crying shame, yet the government is building an airport in a backwater state where majority of the people don’t care about air travel. Interestingly, a report published in 2020 showed that ONLY three airports (Lagos, Abuja, PH) are viable in Nigeria, and others may be forced to shut down over losses. Yet Ekiti is building an airport in a state with huge infrastructural deficit. Sigh.
Now think beyond Ado-Ekiti. Think Okorocha’s Akachi Monument in Owerri. Think TINAPA (although well-intentioned, to be sure) in Calabar. Think Abia Roads. Think about Rauf Aregbesola’s numerous policies of new, pricey PROBLEMS introduced to knock off existing SOLUTIONS. Think of the furore over Ibadan Circular Road (I deliberately want to refrain from talking about Oyo’s fiscal status and debt/APFA). Think about Alamieyeseigha’s Bayelsa Tower Hotel—-otherwise known as Tower of Controversies. Think of Minna 5-Star Hotel.
It’s needless talking about the profligacy at the centre (the stench is powerful enough and all eyes are on it, anyway) but I have always maintained that  guys at the sub-national levels get away with far worse impunity because nobody cares to scrutinize them. Today we talk about the failure that is Sri Lanka but they didn’t fall into the Golgotha overnight. It was a slow, steady race to the bottom of fiscal collapse. They started this way, to some degree.
If you care about these things enough, crunch the few available datasets as they relate to sub-national debts/infrastructural profligacy in Nigeria. Sigh.
Again, I’d repeat ad nauseam: Nigeria cannot afford this oft-ignored sub-national rascality…and we will ALL pay for it someday!