In a crazy economy such as ours, some projects deserve to be strangled to death, others merit alternative means of financing to free the government from too many obligations, while many others need to be resuscitated by all means necessary.
In Niger State, we have an example for each. The first one is a system which steals from the salaries of the civil servants, as happened in our state last month – N19K here, N30K there. This system deserves to die before its time, and replaced with something more honest.
As for the one that merits alternative source of financing, the City Project in Minna is a ready example. On one of the buildings, 700 million had already been expended and we were told that the project was just little over 30% in completion.
In another one near it, the state [previous administration] sunk 200 million for the same percentage of completion. You don’t have to be a quantity surveyor to understand that the value of work put in both buildings is not anywhere near the money spent.
Governor Bello was right when he told the contractor to go and “look for ways to finance it independent of government. I have students sitting on the floor in classrooms, so I’ve no 12 billion naira to spend here.”
And example of a project that should be continued, is the Statewide water projects of Gov Kure’s administration. The projects situated in 7 towns in Niger State, including Kontagora, Gawu and Bida were given to Biray Group, a Turkish company and were 74% completed. However, the projects were abandoned for eight years.
Now, here’s an economic argument why they shouldn’t have been abandoned. Water is a basic necessity. And if you don’t give the people good water, you’re giving them poor health,which will multiply your problems and stretch your resources. That is why the new leaders in Niger chose water as one of the first problems to solve.
But if you want to continue with a project that was left for eight years, you’ll soon discover many problems attached to it. For example, in Nigeria, prices of products appear to only go up not down. A contractor told us that what he used to buy eight years ago for N800, is now N2000.
What contractors do in this case is to submit a variation. This almost always means an increase in the money the government has to spend. My governor looked at one variation and said, “this is too much, we’re not doing it.” One variation was an increase of 73%.
This means if the contract value was 5 billion naira, it would now be 8.6 billion naira.
Also, although 74% of one of the projects was completed, government paid only 49% thereby transferring the difference as a liability to the new administration.
You see why those projects shouldn’t have been abandoned in the first place?
You also see why the people should stop pestering the new governors regarding matters of appointing commissioners, which only means more spending?