By IfeanyiCy Njoku
– N6.4 Billion Naze-Nekede-Ihiagwa-Obinze Road Awarded by Ihedioha to Chinese Company
—Facts of the matter and question about 1.4 billion naira mobilisation fund to CHEC
Due to the ugly and dilapidated nature of the Naze Junction-Nekede-Ihiagwa-Obinze road, the former Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha had awarded the 17.1 kilometres road network in Owerri West LGA of Imo State connecting two federal institutions (FUTO & Poly-Nekede) to a Chinese Construction and Engineering Company, CHEC, at a whooping sum of N6. 4 billion.
The same road unfortunately was awarded, paid and abandoned under the Ex-governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration and with huge sums of tax-payers money paid to the the unknown construction firm but sadly left untarred.
Ihedioha, the former Deputy Speaker of the Federal house of representatives, elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, upon swearing-in on May 29th, 2019, re-awarded the Naze-Nekede-ihiagwa-Obinze among others on the 5th of September, 2019, marking his 100 days in office. A total sum of N1. 4 billion was said to have been paid to the Chinese contractor as mobilisation fund to kick off work without delay.
According to Mr Steve Osuji, Special Adviser Media to the former Governor of Imo State, Hon Emeka Ihedioha said, “Naze-Nekede-ihiagwa-Obinze will cost a little over N6bn and China Harbour Engineering has been pre-selected.”
Uzodinma on assumption of office, January 14th, 2020 following the Supreme Court verdict which removed Hon Emeka Ihedioha at the election petition tribunal and enthroned Senator Hope Uzodinma as duly elected Governor of Imo State, set a new order in governance and administration.
The new administration in his mentra of continuity of government projects, policies and programmes asked the contractors handling all government projects to continue their job and deliver on specifications.
Unfortunately many of the contractors abandoned their project sites, on what the government termed sabotage. According to Senator Hope Uzodinma led administration, some contractors claimed not to have been paid mobilisation fees, some said they were asked to start work on gentleman agreement and understanding with the former Ihedioha administration after necessary documentation that the state will pay later. Some accepted collecting mobilisation fees and asked for more money.
The Governor Hope Uzodinma who summoned the contractors at a meeting at Government House Owerri, pleaded with them to return to site. Such appeal felt on deaf ears leading to the termination of some of the contractors jobs and contracts rewarded to new construction firms.
The Naze-Nekede-ihiagwa-Obinze road project was an interesting case because the Governor visited the project site severally and appealed to the contractor to expedite action, but the failure of the Chinese company to heed to several appeal by the Governor led to a private investigation by the government to ascertain what happened and a revelation that the sum of N1.4 billion officially released by the immediate past administration to the Chinese Company did not completely get to the company.
It was alleged that major part of the mobilisation fund were diverted to settle the election petition tribunal matter executed by the Ihedioha/PDP administration in Imo thereby incapacitating the contractor and their inability to execute the job as scheduled.
The information, our sources revealed is similar to other projects abandoned or terminated by the Hope Uzodinma /APC government in Imo State.
It’s based on the facts available that the Imo State executive council at today’s Exco meeting directed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, to initiate legal procedures to ensure that the Chinese Construction and Engineering Company alongside their bank guarantor refund to the State government the sum of 1.4 billion Naira mobilisation fund paid considering their failure to carry out the job as agreed.
IfeanyiCy Njoku writes from Owerri