By Wahab Oba
In the last few days, I have been inundated with questions and queries about why I have remained silent on critical issues affecting our dear state. My response has always been “What do I want to talk about that has not been talked about by other concerned critical stakeholders”? At any rate, where is my governor that we want to talk to? What have been the results of other critical interventions that we have made? More importantly, on whose behalf are we making those interventions? Is it not bad enough that My governor has weaponised poverty and hunger as the means to political ascendancy?
AA is an interesting study of executive rascality, indolence, profligacy, and arrogance. Have we forgotten the pronouncement of a competent judicial authority that the dissolution of elected local government authorities and the constitution of the transition implementation committee are unconstitutional and executive rascality? To date, what has My governor done about that?
Have we not demanded that my governor should speak with Kwarans on various issues, especially regarding financial and administrative matters? Has my governor ever responded? Governor AA said he kept N17.9b of the N27.9b initial bond collection in a bank. Which bank and for what purposes? Now that the elections are gone, how much of the money is left for Kwara?
The rumor out there is that my governor is trying to account for the N17.9b balance of the bond through the renovation of Kwara Hotel Ltd with a whopping sum of N17.8b What a homogenous sum for a mere repair work? This can only be justified in a despot dine!
Is this not scandalous when a 250-room seven-star hotel in Lekki, Lagos, was allegedly built from foundation with just a little over N5b? Oh my God! My prayer is that this governor does not become what people will call an “Akotileta” governor.
Interestingly, the elders say that when the devil gives you a gift, he collects it back with the other hand, sometimes collecting more than he gave you. My mind is on trending issues about the State of Harmony. Let’s start with the most recent one: the Tanke Bridge( Idiagbon Bridge) and the controversy. The bridge, located on the busy Tunde Idiagbon Road, is meant to ease traffic at the Tanke/Idiagbon/Pipeline/Tahoeed intersection, particularly for commuters plying the University of Ilorin. Therefore, it is a necessary intervention to have such a bridge.
Unfortunately, in implementing the decision to have this modern-day necessity, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, my governor, from the views of engineering professionals, has decided to put the lives of prospective users of the bridge in jeopardy. There can not be a smoke without fire. If engineers are complaining about the capacity of the bridge, if they are expressing concern about the quality of the work and concerns not borne out of partisanship, then something terrible is wrong with the bridge.
Concerns about the bridge started from its inception. AbdulRahman, the governor, was constrained to change contractors on the work willy-nilly. The first observation was that the work was given to a contractor not known for building bridges. Then, the contractor was changed midway, and another was brought in. Well, the government has the discretion to change contractors on any work. No problem. But there was a problem in this instance: ordinary folks who came to see the work in progress expressed concern that it was being done in a manner that gave an impression that they were building small drainages and not a solid bridge. They posted pictures online.
Then, the Nigerian Society of Engineers came out to complain, too. That should be a real red flag for the project. However, our governor, as usual, is playing the deaf or partially deaf. Let me explain by asking one or two questions: Is it true that a group of Chinese engineers recently condemned the work and asked that it should be brought down to avert imminent danger? Is it also true that my governor decided to pick a second option of renovating the bridge before commissioning for about N900 million?
If the answer to any of these two questions is a big yes, then the government is playing the devil; ready to give this bridge with one hand to Kwara residents, and thousands of parents and guardians who have wards at the University of Ilorin, who are expected to be the major beneficiaries, but he is waiting to collect their lives back, with another hand.
I am sure there will be plans to re-invite either the Nigeria President, the Vice President, the Senate President, or someone high up in the political circle to come and commission this bridge, which unfortunately is the only visible capital project “nearing completion“ this governor can point to in almost five years in office.
I pity the governor who is not willing to face the shame of having to pull down the bridge as the Chinese engineers were said to have recommended. But is the shame bigger than the lives of those who will use that bridge and who one day may have to die when it eventually collapses?
The tunes of King Sunny Ade are playing on my mind as I write this: Anyone who plants the evil ahead for others should expect his children to partake in it sooner or later. I am not an engineer, so permit me to borrow the words of an engineer on this bridge of controversy while reacting to some defensive comments by an aide of our governor on developments around the bridge:
“Dear SSA Communications to H.E AA,
Sir, in your attempt to clarify the misinformation about the ongoing controversial project in Tanke, you are creating another technical confusion for yourself. I will be straight to the point.
Why the need for ‘Asphalt Milling’ if the contractor has done a good job on the milled asphalt pavement? In highway engineering, it is only when the contractor is trying to restore an unleveled or bumpy asphaltic pavement that asphalt milling can be done before any overlay.
OR when the asphaltic pavement has some irregularities (like potholes, cracks, etc), asphalt milling comes into play. OR when there is a differential settlement of pavement on the bridge abutments due to insufficient compaction/consolidation. And there is a need to fill up the gap.
The questions now are:
1.)Were there any irregularities on the abutment section that warrant asphalt milling?
2.)Was the milled asphaltic pavement resting on a stone base or binder coarse? If YES, why the a need for the introduction of another new stonebase, priming, and binder course? Who bears the expense for the review — the contractor or the client? Won’t the newly proposed stone base and binder course amount to additional axle loadings?
3)If NO, why were the layers omitted in the first place? Was it deliberate negligence on the part of the contractor, consultant, or client? Or was there any settlement at the abutment section?
My governor, Alhaji AA, please for the sake of the unborn in Kwara, for the sake of the Ilorin emirate whose people you represent today, call off the shame and pull down the bridge, if that is the best option from the recommendations of professionals. For those trying to justify the work based on their current engagement with the government, please don’t forget that if we throw a stone at the marketplace, it will most likely fall on our kinsman. It is not a shame to pull back on the road if it leads to despair.
That is the first warning I want to give My governor. Related to the Bridge of Controversy, is the issue of establishing a University of Education. Again, this defies logic. We have a KWASU that is making an effort to survive, we have two colleges of education, and we have a Polytechnic, all finding it hard to breathe at the moment. I know that the conventional practice will be to transmute the Colleges of Education to the proposed University of Education, but is it an Education-focused institution that we need at the contemporary point? Why not think out of the box and create a university that will answer to the demands of the time? Also, can the finance of the state meet the demand of this project when it has not been able to satisfactorily finance existing ones? Or could this be the avenue for recouping election investment on some stakeholders and associations?
Hmnn, my governor, my governor. Whatever we do today shall be written in our names tomorrow.