Citizens of Anambra State are of the opinion that Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s decision to terminate the contract for the reconstruction of the Ekwulobia-Igboukwu road over non-performance by the contractor, shows that it will not be business as usual again in the state governance.
On Sunday, Soludo paid an unscheduled visit to the road project where he observed that the contractor has not done substantial work despite having an October deadline to hand over the completed project.
The Governor on the spot, terminated the contract and said the state government will be asking for a refund from the contractor, of the monies paid to him.
Reacting to the development, some citizens, Echezona Benson and Chibuzor Okoye observed that the governor is matching his words with action and by the revocation of the contract, has shown capacity to hold people accountable for the jobs given to them.
They expressed concern that the non-performance by the contractor who is an indigenous contractor, spells negative prospects for other genuine local contractors, who are committed to the jobs given to them.
“It is worrisome that the contractor could not deliver the job and was just giving excuses. We have been crying that our local economy is not flourishing because we are patronising expatriates in the construction industry.
“But with what this contractor did, he has even deepened the scepticism by the governor and it is a bad omen.
“And the most worrisome part of it all is how recalcitrant these contractors are and with that, they get paid at the end of the day. It breeds the suspicion that officials of government are complicit in this.
“But the governor has shown a different hand and it is quite commendable,” they said.
A cab operator, Uzo David said the governor’s action is a wake-up call to all other contractors to sit up and deliver on the jobs they were given.
According to him, if the governor sustains the practice of holding contractors to account, then the issue of abandoned projects when government has paid for them, will be a thing of the past.
“When I saw the video of the governor terminating the contract, I was very happy because this is what is required to get people to commit to doing what they are paid to do.
“As a transporter, we suffer a great deal as a result of the bad nature of roads in the state and Mr Governor was gracious enough to award the road to alleviate the sufferings of road users and all the contractor to do was to give excuse!
“I feel proud as Onye Anambra that Mr Governor is setting a good record by taking bull by the horn and it will make every other contractor to sit up.
“This is what we need in this country and what we crave for as citizens and I am very happy,” David said.
They also advised contractors in Anambra State especially indigenous ones not to abuse the confidence reposed in them so as not to discourage the use of local contractors in execution of projects.
However, in his reaction to the development, Prince Chris Azor, the Chairman, Anambra Civil Society Network (ACSONET) and non-state actors co-chair, Open Government Partnership (OGP), believes there is need to look at the process through which the contractor was handed over the job, to ensure that no sharp practice happened.
According to him, if the system is not sanitized, the sacked contractor may just be one of the many others that will follow and that will mitigate the governor’s lofty road infrastructure agenda.
He said; “Much as we applaud this timely and thoughtful action by Mr Governor, as Civil Society we implore him to dig deeper and unravel the possible lack of due diligence in engaging the contractor(s)
“Anambra State has a public procurement law, 2020 which stipulates rigorous public procurement process in engaging contractors for effective and efficient Service Delivery.
“Any observed violation attracts statutory punitive measures accordingly.
“We therefore, humbly request that Mr Governor initiate a due diligence process in uncovering the anomalies with a view to bring culprits to justice.
“This is in line with the avowed transparency, accountability and integrity mantra of the present administration in the State.”