|Senator Ike Ekweremadu|
Senator Ike Ekweremadu, CFR
Deputy President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
National Assembly Complex
Three Arms Complex
FCT, Abuja, Nigeria
Dear Distinguished Deputy President of the Senate,
Re: Constituency Questions Part II: Phantom Projects
Compliments of the season, and I hope this mail reaches you well…
You demonstrated a good sense of leadership by putting together a pamphlet titled “Accomplishments & Constituency Projects Attracted By His Excellency Senator Ike Ekweremadu, CFR”, which chronicles your stewardship since being in the Nigerian Senate for over a decade. The vision and achievements therein are very impressive, to say the least. This singular example is worthy of emulation.
At the same time, there are daunting contradictions. An emerging consensus is that a good number of the projects listed in your pamphlet are phantom—do not exist and have never existed. Even in some cases where the projects exist, they are uncompleted, poorly executed or totally abandoned. (Recall the question by Austin Oboh of Daily Independent, April 1, 2009: http://allafrica.com/stories/200904010263.html).
Accordingly, two months ago, October 21th, to be exact, my team began an independent but extensive constituency-wide field investigation of these projects. The reports are trickling in but very troubling. Not to bore you with a long list so far identified in different parts of Enugu West Senatorial District, comprising Aninri, Awgu, Ezeagu, Oji-River, and Udi Local Governments; but let me begin by citing a few:
In the first page of the very pamphlet alone, under Awgu LGA, the very first project listed (S/N. 1) is a library purportedly located in my native town of Ugbo (“MDGs Library at Ugbo Community”), implemented under “MDGs Quickwin” in the year 2009 (See page 25). My senator, it is painful to report that, as at today, there is no such library and such library has never existed. Let’s quickly move over to the neighboring town of Amoli. The same page 25 (S/N. 11) reads, “Amoli Junction to Eyimba-Achi Road construction Site”; which was supposedly implemented in 2011 under “Anambra/Imo River Basin Development Authority.” Unfortunately, any link between Amoli in Awgu and Achi in Oji-River has not experienced the said development and remains a haunting route, at base. The Ihe-Agbudu Road on same page 25; S/N 16 listed as completed in 2012, has never seen any government work. Check out my neighboring LGA of Oji-River; S/N 17 and 18: Nkwo-Inyi-Inyi Girls-Obune Road Construction Project, and Obuagu-Umuola-Achi Road construction, respectively, listed for 2012 are yet see the desired construction. More painfully, the MDGs Library Center Project at Community Secondary School Oji-River (S/N #3, p. 29) does not exist and has never existed. (In short, there is nothing like such school at Oji at all; to avoid confusion, when my team visited an existing school, the Urban Secondary School at Oji-River, there is no library there either). The MDGS library structures said to be executed in 2009 at Agbogugu and Inyi are hardly completed or equipped (See pp. 25 and 28, respectively). For a dutiful attention, it is better to defer listing more of such projects to the Part III of these questions.
Senator, given that these non-existent projects are carefully plated in your profile, one can believe they were budgeted and paid for but might have been abandoned by the contractors. It is also very possible that given your overwhelming responsibilities as the Deputy Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, you might not have visited these projects one-by-one for proper appraisal. To that end, I appeal that you dedicate your good offices one more time to critically review the pamphlet page-by-page and then find time within this Christmas holiday to visit the different constituency projects so as to see things yourself.
One more thing: Your pamphlet did not reflect any constituency project from 2003 to 2008, a period of five years. Given that you were elected to the senate in 2003, if you wouldn’t mind, also document and inform the constituency budget/projects attracted and completed with those years.
Finally, in line with Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act of 2011(http://www.nigeria-law.org/Legislation/LFN/2011/Freedom%20Of%20Information%20Act.pdf); please communicate back your findings to me—including but no limited to the name of the contractors, amount of the contract, amount so far disbursed and the dates—so I can employ every civil means to hold those responsible for the phantom projects very accountable.
(NB: Citizens of Enugu West Senatorial Constituency or of the Press, who may like a copy of the pamphlet, please do not hesitate to contact me so I can email it to you).
Dr. SKC Ogbonnia