Revealed How N268 Million Meant For Pedestrian Bridge Contracts ‘Disappeared’ In Adamawa
In 2018, the Adamawa State government awarded a contract for the construction of four steel pedestrian bridges, each at a cost of about N67 million.
Based on procurement law and going by available records, the projects ought to have been completed and delivered to the state government the same year. But, SaharaReporters toured the supposed sites and found no such bridge at any location mentioned in the contract document.
For many residents, the joy of having lifesaving pedestrian bridges at strategic locations in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, was immeasurable as soon as the contracts for the bridges were awarded. The people had a sigh of relief when they learnt of the contracts not knowing it would turn out like the other political gimmicks intended to deceive the unsuspecting and hapless populace.
As it turned out, the non-implementation of the contracts has led to loss of lives over the period the contracts were supposed to have been implemented. And the people are wailing.
An eyewitness, Abubakar Mahmud, for instance, could not control his tears, watching six ladies knocked down by a moving car along Yola Bypass in the state capital. Four of the six ladies were pronounced dead afterwards at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yola.
The young women met their tragic end while attempting to cross the busy Yola Bypass leading to FMC and the American University of Nigeria (AUN), also in Yola.
Mournful Mahmud, who identified one of the deceased as Aisha, his neighbour, said the ladies were returning from a wedding across the road.
We had reported the fatal accident which occurred around 6:00 pm local time on June 23, 2021, when Aminu Yar’Adua, son of Nigeria’s former president, the late Umar Yar’Adua, knocked down the young women.
The young Yar’Adua’s identity was confirmed and revealed by the spokesperson for the state Command, DSP Suleiman Nguroje. The police said that Aminu Yar’Adua was an off-campus student of the American University of Nigeria in Yola at the time of the accident.
The tragic incident, however, was one out of several vehicular knockdowns that have occurred along the road and other spots within the metropolis due to the non-availability of pedestrian bridges.
Jameel Sani, a resident of Shagari Quarters in Yola town lamented the hardship he goes through to cross the Yola Bypass to the main market.
“It is quite frustrating, crossing this road for me and other pedestrians on a daily basis to attend to our businesses,” he said.
Michael Monday, a welder whose workshop is close to Aliyu Musdafa College gate, said, “Hardly will a day pass by without a car hitting someone around this area.”
At the busy shopping complex gate one, the story is the same.
Usman Senata, a mobile phone seller, said, “We have no idea whether a pedestrian bridge was to be built at this gate because as you can see there’s none.”
Even at the Jimeta modern market, pedestrians have to meander between moving vehicles to cross the road to get to the market from the other side.
A trader, Uchenna, Azubuike, said, “We are pleading with both the government and the contractor to construct the bridge so as to alleviate our suffering.”
It was gathered that contracts for the construction of four pedestrian bridges were awarded in 2018, but none was built. Documents seen by newsmen show that Shema Synergy and Ngagga Investment Limited won the contracts.
Details further revealed that Ngagga Investment Limited was awarded two bridges in Yola town, one at Aliyu Musdafa College at the cost of N56 million and the other at the Yola Town Market at the cost of N55 million.
Shema Synergy was awarded the Jimeta Shopping Complex Bridge and Jimeta modern Market Bridge, costing N67 million and N65 million respectively. According to figures posted on Adamawa State Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), N57 million was allegedly disbursed for each of the projects awarded to Shema Synergy, while Ngagga Investment was allegedly paid N55 million and N56 million for the two bridges in Yola town by the immediate past administration of Umar Jibrilla Bindo.
Unfortunately, there is no such bridge in existence or at the very least any sign of workers at any of the four locations mentioned when SaharaReporters visited.
Based on available procurement documentation, over N200 million was approved for the contracts. But it appears the funds have been diverted into private pockets as none of the contracts was executed.
Both contractors, Shema Synergy Limited and Ngagga Investment Limited admitted the receipt of the contract award documents.
When asked to explain why his firm failed to build the bridges, Shema Suleiman said his firm was never mobilized for the projects after the contracts were awarded.
“Besides the award letter, I was not mobilised to site. My claim is verifiable from the awarding ministry, the Ministry of Local Government Affairs,” he told newsmen
It was the same explanation given by Ngagga Investment Limited: “No mobilization was given.”
However, the contractors failed to institute legal action as prescribed in the procurement law. A senior officer at the state BPP who spoke on condition of anonymity told our correspondent that by law, a contract is awarded on the condition of 75% availability of the contract sum.
He further revealed that the contractors ought to have instituted a legal action against the procurement entity for failing to mobilise them to the sites.
Top management officials of the Minister of Local Government Affairs told our correspondent that they were not in office when the contracts were awarded. The immediate past commissioner in the ministry, Mohammed Umar, as well as the immediate past permanent secretary, Kennedy Dauda, who initially promised to provide details about the contract, failed to do so.
Dauda only informed our reporter that he had contacted one of the contractors, who explained that the project was abandoned due to lack of cash backing.
The retiring Managing Director of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Abba Bello Umar, also defended the contractors, saying, “I think there was no cash backing for the contract.”
“The bridges were abandoned because the Bindo administration later conceived the idea of building overhead bridges in strategic places within the metropolis,” he added.
Asked why the project was uploaded on the bureau’s website considering the prevailing circumstances, Umar said: “It is a normal practice to publish all contract awards, whether executed or not.”
When our reporter contacted former Governor Bindo, under whose administration the contracts were awarded to speak on the matter, he denied ever conceiving any overhead bridge idea or awarding any such contracts.
“It is not true, I couldn’t have conceived any such idea, I don’t think our immediate priority in Adamawa was overhead bridge. I would have loved to expand the roads to make it a lot easier for motorists and pedestrians,” he said.
However, some staff members at the BPP hinted that the contract amounts may have been siphoned. An accounting staff member of the Ministry of Local Government Affairs, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that the practice of awarding contracts and not executing them was a “normal” and familiar one.
“Normally, projects are decided upon at joint account meetings involving 21 council chairmen and staff of this ministry. Afterwards, the project goes through the open contract processes and stops at the awarding stage. The money, which is contributed from various local government accounts, is then shared,” the official said.