Left to rot: FG’s multi-million naira health project in Ogun LGA now an abode for rats, birds

 Left to rot: FG’s multi-million naira health project in Ogun LGA now an abode for rats, birds

On March 9, 2022, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs Nigeria (OSSAP-SDGs) paid N138,483,315.39 to Tlmb Construction Limited to construct six bedroom detached transit quarters for nurses and doctors at Igbesa primary health centre (PHC). 

It was one of the projects meant to revamp healthcare delivery in Ado-Odo Ota LGA, Ogun state. By its design, it was aimed at creating a conducive work environment for doctors and nurses deployed to a newly-constructed 20-bed PHC, also sponsored by the Federal Government, at Igbesa.  

But when this reporter visited the area in September, silence enveloped the site of the project, broken intermittently by the distant chirping of birds. 

Hidden within the unruly embrace of bushy areas, the once-promising health project now stood as a ghostly relic, slowly succumbing to the relentless march of time.

The project rotting away inside the bush

The N227.9m health project now an abode for rats, birds 

Data from Govspend, an initiative of BudgIT, the Nigerian civic organisation promoting transparency and active citizen engagement, showed the health project has so far gulped the sum of N22,999,307 million. 

Findings on payment earmarked for the project on Govspend revealed that the OSSAP-SDGs, formerly Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), engaged different contractors for the project. 

On May 19, 2022, OSSAP-SDGs paid Stone Works House Investment Ltd N43,574,892.40 for the construction of a fence with gate and external works for the project. In the same vein, the OSSAP-SDGs paid N45,941,100.94 to Ocean Mines and Exploration Ltd to furnish the project on February 26, 2023.  

Details of the amount paid to the contractors by FG for the project on Govspend
Details of payment to Ocean Mines and Exploration Ltd

In spite of the amount spent on the project, the facility has remained un-utilised over a year after it was awarded and months after its completion. The desolate structure lay abandoned and untouched, like a forgotten promise etched in concrete and steel. 

During the reporter’s visit to the site of the project, located at the outskirt of Igbesa, it has become an abode for rats and birds, with bushes taking over a significant part of the facility. 

The facility, now rotting away, has neither been commissioned nor used by anyone in the community. Findings showed the facility was a sister project to the newly-constructed 20-bed PHC at Igbesa – which has also been abandoned after completion. Legit.ng earlier investigated the non-utilisation of the 20-bed PHC, which cost N64 million.

Dashed hopes, tears, and regrets – Residents lament condition of health project 

The condition of the project has remained a source of concern for many residents of the area, who have endured years of poor healthcare delivery.  

Akinwale Ojo, a commercial motorcyclist, also known as Okada rider, in the area, said daily, the sight of the project evokes sad memories. 

“I am always sad that a project of this nature is wasting away. To think the government will spend millions of naira on the project and leave it to rot away inside the bush is disturbing,” he told Legit.ng.

He is not the only one livid about the non-utilisation of the project. Like him, Esther Ajayi mentioned that every time she passes by the project site, she fervently prays to see the facility put to use.

“I have been using the road connecting the project for about a year and I have seen any sign of activity there. It is unfortunate considering the importance of the project to us,” she said. 

“Having a place for doctors and nurses to stay will give us the confidence that anytime there is a health emergency, there will be a health official to attend to you.”

Also speaking, Iya Aaliyah, a resident, called on the government to ensure speedy utilisation of the project to alleviate the plights of the community in terms of healthcare delivery.

A resident laments condition of the project

“We would be relieved of our suffering if it is opened, at least when someone is sick the person can receive treatment. We need the hospital and doctors quarters to be opened as soon as possible,” she said..

Mrs Bashy, another resident of Igbesa, claimed that the project was completed “about two years ago”. The trader also said when construction started; some people working there would often visit my place to borrow a digger.

The development comes despite the lack of doctors and enough health officials to attend to the medical needs of residents at Igbesa, a situation the utilisation of the nurses and doctors’ quarters would have addressed. 

PHCs are considered as “the bedrock of Nigeria’s health policy capable of addressing up to 70% of the national disease burden”, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). In Nigeria, however, only 20% of the country’s PHCs are estimated to be functional, leaving many residents in rural communities at the mercy of death.

In spite of this, some health projects, particularly PHCs, initiated to address the situation are either abandoned halfway or left to rot after completion. 

In 2021, Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), a non-governmental organisation promoting procurement governance across national and sub-national levels, revealed several PHCs and other projects implemented by federal government’s agencies across communities were abandoned and not utilised.  

“Some completed projects are not being put to use after many years of construction because they were awaiting commissioning thus resulting in the dilapidation of such projects,” the organisation said.

“In some cases, this abandoned project might be the only primary healthcare centre available in the whole community yet it will be left abandoned and uncompleted.

“There are instances where a project has been completely built since 2016, but then it’s not being used, simply because it is waiting commissioning. The building had started deteriorating; it has started collapsing and has been burgled.”

Unreplied FOI and emails… FG, contractors silent on multi-million naira project rotting away

On October 13, the reporter, in line with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011, wrote the OSSAP-SDGs to get contract details. The reporter requested details of the fund released, when the contractors ought to complete the project, among others. 

This request, signed by Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s country director, was in line with sections 2(3) & (4) of the FOIA 2011, which require all “information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution” to be “widely disseminated and more readily available…”. 

Although the OSSAP-SDGs acknowledged the request on October 19, no further response was given, in violation of the FOIA 2011, which stipulates the requested information or feedback should be given within seven days from receipt of the application. 

A copy of the FOI request acknowledged by OSSAP-SDGs on October 19, 2023

Just like the OSSAP-SDGs, the contractors that handled the project did not reply to enquiries by the reporter. 

This reporter visited the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to get more details about Ocean Mines and Corporation Ltd, the contractor engaged to furnish the facility. The commission’s paid service – which costs N1,161 – showed the company was incorporated on May 22, 2020. 

Further findings showed the company, with registration number 1672754, has three persons with significant control, namely Celestina Diribe Chibuzor, Gift Diribe Chiamaka, and Ifeoma Diribe. The company listed “general contracts” as its principal business activity on CAC. The company also listed 6, Jacob Sonola Street, Oke Ira, Ogba, Lagos State, as its address on the Commission’s website. 

The reporter sent an inquiry on the project to the emails of three persons with significant control in the company, as listed on the CAC website, but has yet to receive a response. Subsequent reminders sent were also unreplied.

Tlmb Construction Limited could not be reached for comment on the project. Findings on NG-Check, the platform that provides information about Nigerian companies, showed Tlmb Construction Limited was registered on February 23, 2010 and incorporated as a private company with registration number 871465. The company is currently listed as “inactive” while its status remains unknown.

The only available information on the company was its Suite B84 Efab Shopping Mall, Area 11, Abuja address, and the names of its directors: Mubaraq Taiye Ibrahim, Lawal Babatunde Ibrahim, Ibrahim Babatunde Ibrahim, Babakat Kahinde Ibrahim, and Ibrahim Ajibola Tajudeen. Legit.ng found no contact information of the company, and no more information on the directors.

Stone Works House Investment Ltd also has limited presence online. The Abuja-based company was registered on March 14, 2013 with Ova Hadiza, Ova Ismail, and Ova Kadijat as directors. It was incorporated as a private company with registration number 1102286 and listed general merchants and trading as its area of focus. The company’s status was listed as “unknown” on NG-Check.

Over one year on, the non-utilised health project tells a tale of aspirations left to rot, a narrative of neglect, and a poignant symbol of promises unfulfilled. Igbesa residents are yet to benefit from the N227,999,307m health project meant to improve their access to quality healthcare and no explanation has been given for this.

Their dreams of getting quality healthcare lay shattered like broken glasses. The health project, once envisioned as a beacon of well-being, now served as a silent witness to the harsh reality faced by the very community it was meant to uplift.

The facility, expected to house doctors and nurses, is now a comfort zone for birds, rats, and reptiles. Time will tell if it will ever be commissioned.

By James Ojo

This story is published under the GovSpend Media Fellowship, supported by BudgIT, ICIR and MacArthur Foundation. It was first published here.

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