On June 27, 2017, Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, laid the foundation stone of the Akure Civic Centre project. The project was facilitated by a Member of the House of Representatives, representing Akure South and North, Hon. Afe Olowookere.
For many people of Akure origin, the project was a prayer answered, and Hon. Olowookere received commendation for the laudable initiative. Six years and four months later, the people of Akure are left in a fix, as the N150 million project remains uncompleted and is now decaying.
Mr. Yemi Oluwadare, a leader in Akure, recalls that the clamour for building the Akure Civic Centre began when the Akure City Hall located at Oba Adesida Road became small and was crumbling.
“We reached out to many prominent sons of Akure to help build a centre that befits the status of the community as a state capital. The City Hall had become old, as at that time. It was in a mess; some people even suggested it should be pulled down completely.
“Senator Tayo Alashoadura secured funds for the repairs of the Town Hall, but most of us still wanted a Civic Centre which will serve the Akure community as a building that is more than an event hall”.
The civic centre was also expected to serve as a skill acquisition centre. When Afe Olowookere was elected into the House of Representatives, he promised the Civic Centre would be built.
He reportedly informed the Paramount Ruler of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, and requested land from the community to facilitate the construction of the centre.
A committee was set up to acquire suitable land in a strategic location for the project. A portion of land was secured from the management of the Federal College of Agriculture Akure at no cost to the community, and the journey began.
Jubac Investment Company Limited secured the contract to build the civic centre, while the supervising agency was the Border Community Development Agency. According to the supervising agency, the project cost was N50 million. The contractor went to the site, and in a few months the project was expected to have been completed.
Olowookere also reportedly announced that he had secured another N100 million for to complete the project under the Zonal Intervention Project (ZIP) in 2019 to ensure that the project was completed and delivered.
However, as soon as the lintels were fixed and roofing frames erected, the contractor abandoned the site and has not been seen since then.
When this reporter visited the site of the project this October, it had been taken over by weeds, and the building appears to be one that might cave in soon. The roofing skeleton of the building had begun to rust.
Akure Indigenes In A Fix
The Coalition of Akure Youth leader, Tuyi Adekanmbi, described the project’s abandonment as confusing.
He said, “This is a very unfortunate situation; it’s shocking that despite the history of Akure in national and regional politics, we will not be able to have a Civic Centre.
“He (Olowookere) said he would complete that project before he leaves office, but you know politicians and how they are. They believe whatever they do is to campaign for a second term.”
When the journalist asked Oluwadare if he knew that the initial payment for the project was N50 million, he described it as unbelievable.
“That’s quite unbelievable; what is on that site is not worth N20 Million,” he said, wearing a curious gaze.
In September 2021, a team from the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) visited the project site and ordered the contractor to go back on site as the work had not only stopped but had been poorly executed.
The team, led by David Oluwole, who was, at that time, head of the commission’s project monitoring unit, described the job done so far as poor and ordered the contractor back on site with immediate effect.
An expert on the team gave a critical assessment of the project, noting, “The expected reinforcement bar is not used. The results are seen with the bent columns and uneven sizes, which are not aligned. The site is clearly already abandoned, as there is no evidence of work for months. 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.”
After the warning issued by the ICPC, it was expected that the contractor would return to the site or the contract would be assigned to another contractor, but more than 24 months later, nothing happened.
Development News Nigeria, DNN reached out to the ICPC national office to find out what had happened after the warning was issued in 2021 and was directed to speak to an official of the commission’s new office in Akure.
DNN also reached out to the former House of Representatives member who facilitated the project to find out why the contractor left site without completing the project and to confirm if the contractor had been paid.
He said, “I am not the contractor; the money was not paid to me. You may need to ask the contractor to clarify if money was paid. The project is a project I nominated, and in projects like that, money is not paid once. They pay in installments; when you do the job, and it’s valued, they calculate the money, and they pay.”
The former House of Representatives member advised, “So I want you to do your findings very well to ascertain the last money that was paid.”
According to the information on the website of the Accountant General of the Federation, all Zonal Intervention Projects in 2018 and 2019 were fully funded.
Jubac Investment Company Limited
Jubac Investment Company Limited, the contractor handling the construction of the now abandoned Akure Civic and Outreach Centre, is a company registered on 27th October 2000.
The directors of the Companies are Akeem Ariran, Becky Ariran, and Emmanuel Abdulahi, while Becky Ariran is listed as the company’s secretary. The shared surname of two out of the company’s directors and its secretary is indicative of family ownership.
Public records about Jubac Investment Company Limited, included a physical address, but attempts to get clarification from the company about the project were unsuccessful.
According to available records, over N100 Billion Naira is voted for zonal intervention projects annually. Sadly, many of the projects end up uncompleted, like the Akure Civic and Outreach Centre project.
Having been left uncompleted and unattended, the project site is gradually becoming a forest again, with vines of weeds climbing the metal roof frames.
Since Hon. Olowookere left office, three persons have represented the constituency; the ICPC has visited the site, issued a warning, and forgotten the project. The contractor appears to have pocketed the money and moved on while the community is already exploring the option of self-help.
Tuyi Adekanmbi, the youth leader of the Akure community, begged for the project to be completed.
He said, “I am using this medium to beg all Akure sons and daughters within and outside the government to come together and complete this project as the government has abandoned it.”
When DNN visited the site, we noticed that a Church belonging to the Christ Apostolic Church had about three banners announcing its program at the second entrance. However, Oluwadare, the Akure community leader, clarified that the community had not given any part of the land to the church.
“No, no one could have done that. I believe it’s the people who come to pray on the mountain not far from the building who take shelter in the decked part of the structure when the sun is harsh, and the mountain is not conducive for them,” he noted.
This report is produced with support from Civic Media Lab(CML)