Lagos state is said to be the economic capital of Nigeria and the reason why it is so isn’t far-fetched. Lagos is home to several multi-national companies who have invested so much into the economy of the country.
Successive administrations in Lagos have always seen the potentials Lagos state offers the country and are ever willing to tap into those potentials either for the personal aggrandisement or for the development of the state and invariably the nation.
However since the advent of democracy in 1999, the dominant party in power has capitalised on the potentials but in a negative way. Several atrocities have been committed in other sectors but emphasis here is on the road construction in the state. (Have it in mind that road construction gulps billions of naira).
Below are the facts that will give you insights into the biggest fraud ever conceived and committed in Nigeria
1. The Lekki-Epe express road was initially constructed by the Jakande administration and completed by the Mudashiru and Mike Akhigbe military administrations in 1987. The entire Lekki axis was then opened up for rapid development. Between 1985 and now, the corridor has been experiencing rapid and unprecedented urban growth as hundreds of new communities, developments and estates have developed which drew large population of low and middle income Lagosians.
2. The last administration realizing the urgent need to address the fast growing problem of road congestion conceived the idea of the expansion of the existing express road into a six-lane roadway, the construction of an alternate coastal road that will run from Ahmadu Bello way in Bar Beach, along the shores of the Atlantic ocean towards Ibeju-Lekki Local Government area. The third leg was the construction of a fourth mainland bridge, from Langbasa area near Ajah across the Lagos Lagoon to Ikorodu town and detouring somewhere to join the existing third mainland bridge thereby forming a circular road around Lagos.
3. A committee was initially set up which recommended the adoption of the PPP concept to handle the project since it was thought then that because of the magnitude of the project, the state government might have to collaborate with the private sector under a Private-Public-Participation (PPP) model to handle the project.
4. Thereafter, Tinubu’s greed took control. He floated a company-Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to handle the project as a consortium and appointed a financial advisory company ARM as the financial adviser.
5. LCC immediately asked for 1,000 hectares of prime land as the contribution of the state government to the project. This was immediately granted by Tinubu and he released the c of o within weeks for 1,000 hectares of prime at Awoyaya, Abijo, Eputu and Sapati all in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area. Part of the land is now being developed as ADIVA housing and golf course project by ARM
6. The project was later jettisoned after obtaining the hectares of land and other payments from the state government and in its place; the rehabilitation of the existing Lekki expressway was adopted by the consortium. There is no basis for a toll road and 30 year concession arrangement for a mere rehabilitation and expansion of an existing road which the government could afford on its own.
7. Indeed, the Federal Government under President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to Governor Tinubu in 2006, offering to construct the coastal road free of charge to Lagos and its people from the Lekki Free Trade Zone to Ahmadu Bello Way in VI. He also sent a letter of commitment written by a Chinese construction firm to that effect. Governor Tinubu firmly rejected this offer and instead opted to abandon the coastal road project which the concession was initially meant for and instead signed a 30 year concession for a toll road to his company.
8. The rehabilitation work commenced in late 2006 with the expansion and rehabilitation of the Ozumba Mbadiwe end to Mobil building and the 49.4km main Lekki road rehabilitation started in 2007 shortly after Fashola became Governor
9. By this time, Fashola’s crony-Dr Tunji Olowolafe was made chairman of LCC and the entire contract was awarded to HITECH. HITECH is owned by both the Chagouris and former Gov Bola Tinubu who is the Chairman
10. LCC was given a 30 year concession (note that all their concessions are usually 30 years) with no competitive bid, no competing quote and no professional evaluation. The whole thing was packaged by Tinubu and executed by Fashola for their own selfish interest.
11. To further confirm this, Tinubu has built a multi-billion naira state of the art hotel-the Oriental Hotel along the express road. Conveniently, the toll gate is located a few meters before the hotel coming from VI so that the hotel clients wouldn’t have to pay toll. Even, special entry and exit points (including a roundabout) have been constructed for the hotel and the multi-level car park beside it (also owned by Tinubu) by the construction company using tax/toll payers’ money. Talk about creating a personal empire. One man owning an express road and a multi-billion naira hotel.
12. The 49.4km two-phased project is to cost an outrageous N50 billion which the innocent citizens and particularly the residents and indigenous communities of Lekki, Ajah, Epe and Ibeju areas will cough out over the next 30 years while Tinubu, Fashola, Olowolafe, the Chagouris and their other collaborators and their unborn generations will be smiling to the banks. A simple arithmetic shows that cost of construction averages N1billion per 1km. This did not include the 1,000 hectares of land and other costs already incurred by the Lagos state government. This must be the most expensive road anywhere in the world! Meanwhile, there will be 3 toll plazas in a 50km stretch!
13. Already, the rehabilitation work which started in 2006 has only achieved less than 2km in over 3 years; meanwhile, the consortium has only concentrated on building the toll plazas rather than first completing the two phases for the convenience of residents. Residents in these areas spend more than 6 hours daily on the road while the situation will get worse during the coming rains. This has disrupted the lives of the citizens and no proper alternate road was constructed by the consortium.
14. The entire Lekki axis hosts millions of indigenous people who are fishermen and farmers and have occupied their lands for centuries. They are largely poor and agrarian from villages like Ajah, Badore, Elegushi, Ajiran, Sangotedo, Abijo, Ibeju, and all communities in Eti-osa, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki Local Government areas. These indigenous people along with others living in the area are now being forced to pay toll to enter and exit their fatherland.
15. These people who have been subjected to economic misfortune occasioned by seizure of their lands by this government are now been economically drained by the imposition of toll gates within their communities. There has never been any consultations with the people neither was there any environmental impact assessment before the commencement of the project.
16. THE BIG FRAUD
This is the biggest fraud ever conceived!
(a) A road that was initially constructed by two previous administration and that belong to the Lagos State Government is now being jointly owned by Tinubu-the former governor and Fashola-the present governor through his crony-Dr Tunji Olowolafe under the consortium LCC
(b) LCC was appointed without conforming to the Public Procurement Act of 2007. There was no public bidding process, no competing bids from other consortium and the fact that the former Governor and the present Governor have personal interest is criminal in nature.
(c) LCC will collect toll from the taxpayers of Lagos over the next 30years. The amount to be collected was not subject to any negotiation or law by any regulatory agency. Which means it is arbitrary and could be changed without notice anytime through the duration of the 30 year lease.
(d) In addition, landowners and prospective builders of homes are being charged heavily as infrastructural charge, land use charge and personal income tax and are now required to pay road tax or toll. This is multiple taxation in its worst form.
(e) The people’s livelihoods have been disrupted for the past 3 years without compensation and there is no alternate road anywhere as it is in practice in other parts of the world where there are toll roads.
(f) A concession that was granted for the building of a coastal road, 4th mainland bridge and expansion of Lekki road has now been turned into mere rehabilitation of an existing road for the same 30-year concession. This is fraud
(g) Fences are being built around the toll areas to box residents within the area. This has security and safety implications. If there is a major emergency like major armed robbery operations, civil crisis, major floods, fire incidents etc and residents need to be evacuated in a hurry; there will be major massive bottleneck at the toll plaza as there is no other escape route except through the lagoon or Atlantic Ocean. Remember the Oke-Afa mass drowning incident of 2002. God forbid!
(h) The owners of LCC have also received cash payments and land grants from Lagos state government in addition to the 30 year toll. These payments and land grants were initially made under the agreement that the 4th mainland bridge-Lekki road-coastal road would be built. It is therefore criminal to obtain compensation for a project only to turn around and reduce the scope.
(i) Several prominent Baales, residents and associations have voiced their objections over the years but were arrogantly ignored by government and LCC. The Eti-Osa Heritage Group, Concerned Residents of Lekki-Ajah (COROLA) and other Indigenous groups have expressed reservations and berated LCC for what they considered inequitable for the residents.
(j) We indeed wonder what the Lagos State House of Assembly is there for if it cannot raise its voice to protect its citizens. The House is indeed culpable as it remains ineffective when this entire charade is going on under its watch or is the House of Assembly another conquered territory of both Tinubu and Fashola?