When construction workers laid the foundation for the Akure Civic and Outreach Centre in the Oke-Ijebu community of Ondo State in 2018, residents were high in optimism. Erected in the western corridor of the Federal College of Agriculture (FECA) in Akure South Local Government Area, the centre was touted to provide community dwellers with a place of political and economic convergence.
However, since construction work started in 2018, the centre, initiated for community development and skill acquisition, has been left abandoned.
UDEME’s on-the-ground reporting revealed that the building has now been taken over by bushes. UDEME is a social-accountability project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).
At the entrance of the building is a signpost showing details of the project, with a pathway in between broken fences leading to the building structure.
This reporter also noticed that a part of the building has been converted into a worship centre by members of the Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C) in which they come to worship.
“When the government came, they came with assuring words about this project promising to complete it on time before the 2019 general elections,” said James Akinola, the chairman of the landlords’ association in the community. “We were so happy with this development because the supposed outreach centre will be of benefit to the community.”
Mr Akinola echoed the pains of many residents in the area who had spoken to UDEME, expressing their resentments over the abandoned project, despite positive promises from the state’s authorities.
N150 million down the drain
Although some residents blamed the construction workers for failing to complete the work they had started three years ago, our investigation revealed that the project might have been abandoned due to non-adherence to the contract by procurement parties.
In 2018, Afe Olowokere, then the lawmaker representing the Akure South/North constituency at the House of Representatives, nominated the construction of the Akure Civic and Outreach centre in the federal constituency. The project cost N50 million, according to documents from the supervising agency, Border Community Development Agency (BCDA).
Again in 2019, Mr Olowokere facilitated the completion of the project for the sum of N100 million, under the Zonal Intervention Project (ZIP) of the year, BCDA stated. Meanwhile, public data found on the website of the Accountant-General of the Federation’s office shows that projects initiated under the ZIPs in 2018 and 2019 were fully funded.
Before then, however, Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, the Akure first-class monarch, had set up a committee to secure a befitting location for the project. The committee would later settle for a portion of land allocated to the Federal College of Agriculture after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Sadly, the project nominated by the lawmaker is currently in a sorry state. Residents said they last saw construction workers on the site in 2019. UDEME observed that a part of the landscape meant for the project has been temporarily occupied by Christian worshipers, who carry out their religious activities on a daily basis.
Lawmaker promises efforts but no accountability
When contacted, Selee Selee, the spokesperson to Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, the Akure monarch, said he had no idea why work stopped on the site after the government had received the palace’s blessing.
“The residents of the community have come to our palace to complain about the project but we do not know the reason why the contractors stopped working on the site,” Mr Selee said. “The king gave his blessings and approved the location of the site. We hope that the current lawmaker will look into the project.”
UDEME reached out to the current lawmaker, Micheal Lawson-Alade representing Akure South and North Federal Constituency, who was elected in February to replace the immediate past lawmaker, Adedayo Omolafe, who died in 2021. Mr Olowokere initiated the project in 2018.
Mr Lawson-Alade assured UDEME of his readiness to ensure that all abandoned projects are completed before he leaves office but dismissed any effort at accountability.
“This building is very important and must be completed in due time. I won’t probe any expenditure that has been spent on the project because I have plans to complete all federal constituency projects from 1999 to date. Also, this building when completed will be named after Hon. Afe Olowokere because he was the one who gave birth to the idea of this project,” he said.
Project flagged by ICPC
Meanwhile, in September 2021, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) warned the contractor handling the reconstruction and completion of the civic centre to return to the site, according to media reports reviewed and verified by UDEME. David Oluwole, an official of the ICPC who visited the project site, accused Jubac Investment Co. Ltd, the company in charge of the construction, of doing a shoddy job.
“The site is clearly, already abandoned as there is no evidence of work for months,” the anti-graft agency official said in a statement. “This job is believed to be supervised by unqualified engineers; my recommendation is for the project to be taken from these particular contractors, or the contractor needs to return to the site, demolish the upper part of the building and reconstruct with quality materials.”
UDEME could not reach the company involved for further probes on why the project has been shoddily executed. Having checked through the Corporate Affairs Commission public search domain, the company details could not be found and the status of the company was ‘inactive’ at the time of this report.
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