Hon. Onuche J. Okoh is the national chairman, National Contractors Association of Nigeria. In this interview with DAVID ADUGE-ANI, he speaks on abandoned projects and irregularities in contract awards in Nigeria.
Who are members of your association?
Our members are all contractors, as far as Nigeria is concerned. We are found all over the country, including the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.
What category of contracts do your members embark upon?
We embark on all categories of contracts, including building engineering, plumbing engineering, special contractor, building supplies and other items of supplies. They are all contractors.
What is the statistics of your members nationwide?
So far, we have over 10, 000 members of the association, which cuts across the country. In the past, construction companies in this country, irrespective of their various associations today were all our members. Some of the politicians of today, were also our members. The office has been opened for over 30 years now.
Are you saying that all contractors in the country your members?
Well, it is not mandatory for all contractors in the country be our member, because it is an association. Some contractors are technically split, but as far as I am concerned, all contractors are our members.
Do you have the database of your members to differentiate between genuine and fake contractors in the country?
Yes, for now we don’t have a database of our members, and the reason for this is because, previous administrations have not deemed it fit to encourage the establishment of a database for authentic contractors.
How do monitor the activities of contractors, because we hear cases where some of your members who collect jobs and sometimes after carrying out part of that job, abandon it half-way.
That is even the more reason why we have been appealing to the past government to come to our aid so that we have the comprehensive list of our members. For instance, the bureau of public procurement is supposed to be the secretary of the body, while the ministry of the finance, the chairman. But this has not been the case.
To monitor the activities of our members is the responsibility of both the government and our association. So to monitor the activities of our members is difficult, because past governments did not insist on a comprehensive list of genuine contractors in the country.
There are too many abandoned projects all over the country. What is the cause of this?
Now take for instance, if a minister awards a job of N10m and he collects the sum of N4m out of that money, can such minister question you about completing that job. I will say that the reasons for the abandoned projects you see all over the place is because of conspiracies between contractors, the civil servants and core politicians. But we want to see how we can stop this conspiracy.
We are also appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the irregularities in the award of contracts, between contractors, civil servants and core politicians. This is because the irregularities are the cause of the abandoned projects you see all over the country. We need to sanitise the system.
What we are saying is that President Buhari should extend his anti corruption crusade to contract awards. You see, I know of a job that has been awarded and paid for, four times, but today that job is still at the foundation level. This is corruption.
Let me say that the bureau of public procurement cannot be trusted when it comes to contract awards, because the bureau itself is still an irregularity body. I am not condemning them. This is the more reason we contractors have calling for the stoppage of revalidation of contracts, because it is taking us to nowhere in this country.
So the figure of abandoned projects in the country is alarming. And let me inform you that most of these projects have been paid for, but abandoned mid way by the