– Sunday Adunmo, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties (Roads)
When I was in the House of Assembly under the administration of Segun Oni, I was the chairman, House Committee on Roads and Infrastructure, for three years, and I have all the details of all the roads in the state, how they were and what we want them to look like in future. When I was in the House, we were working on over 100 different roads in Ekiti that were awarded by Oni. That was an era of fraudulent contractors; most of them had nothing to do with road construction. Most of them did not have wheelbarrows as equipment.
When Governor Fayemi assumed office, I told him to read the Success Road book to understand the inherited roads of his administration and the list of contractors. What we did was to open a tender for the first set of roads the governor told us to award; the bids were compiled. But we later discovered that some of them (contractors) don’t have offices and they want to get a project worth N1 billion and we refused because we must visit their offices without informing them before we award the contracts.
In the process, we went to Abuja, Kaduna and other cities to confirm their offices in order to know those we will award contracts to. That was part of the success we are celebrating today. Out of about 30 contractors whose sites we visited, we were able to discover 12 and those 12 were given the jobs and they delivered even before the stipulated time. Some of the contracts included the Igbaraodo–Ibuji, Ado–Ilawe, Ikangosi–Ikole–Iloro, Ikangosi–Efon, Ijero–Ayetoro roads. We also commissioned Ikole–Ijesa–Isu, Ado Township, redualisation of Ado–Iyin roads, Fajuyi–Police Headquarters, Old Garage, Funmi Olayinka Drive among others. The vision of the governor is to link Ekiti and that was what we did.
What challenges do you face in the cause of your operations?
We face a lot of challenges. Relocation and compensation are part of them. In some areas we have burial grounds. Asking those families to relocate their buried ones to another location can be tasking. They keep on asking for unreasonable amounts of money. Why I call them unreasonable is that when you want to relocate a corpse and the family demands N5 million. We tried to negotiate and with the involvement of the royal fathers in the area we were able to resolve all.
Then the relocation of major pipelines, because we have many pipelines along that area. At the same time, we look at the volume of water from houses that must go through a channel. So we discovered that the normal type of drainage that we used to construct is no longer fashionable because of the population. So we have to increase the size, cover them to prevent serious calamity.
How has the state government been funding these projects?
What Governor Fayemi did was to go to the capital market to source for N25 billion to finance the road construction. Out of it, N20 billion was initially released to us. It was this year that we got the balance of N5 billion to pay for the outstanding bill. With the portion allocated to roads, we have been able to work on the dualisation of roads in Ado Township and the 13 major roads across all the senatorial districts.
Usually, some state governments used to have some unique features on their roads. Do you have anything like that here?
If you look at the township roads, what we first designed was the uniqueness that will add beauty to them. We had to look at our setbacks. What we were trying to create then was that every layback before the walkway must be our bus stop. At the same time, if you look at the dualised roads round the town, they were uniform.
You mentioned local contractors, is there a deliberate policy for people to use local contractors?
Yes there is. We even introduced local content because it is a must for us to have a list of the engineers in each community. If you are a carpenter, you put your name down with the traditional ruler in your area, not any political appointee. The local content is part of the contract agreement. Aside from our people there are foreign contractors like the Chinese and they are few. We are not stopping them from bringing their people but we know the number of people we are accommodating. We give them one slot out of five and we take four for our people.
Recently, Mr. Fayose said in one of the interviews he granted that he built most of the roads in Ekiti State, that what the current administration has done is to lay asphalt on it. What do you have to say to that?
I expected the former governor who is well lettered to know the extent of work done. It is so simple for people to understand the extent of work done on these roads. Even his (former governor’s) own hometown, the road that leads to it which was constructed by him collapsed under six months. We can take a little drive to Ikere Road. He constructed the second lane. The lane that was constructed in 1970 is still standing whereas the one he constructed has collapsed and there is nothing like asphalt there. All the asphalt had to be removed because they are sand asphalt. Let him bring his commissioner for works to come and talk on air. Let Ekiti people hear us out.
Can you give us the number of roads that are being built by your administration?
It is over 800 kilometres. I have the records.
What checks and balances have you put in place in the ministry to prevent briefcase contractors from resurfacing?
Our engineers are very good. We have the best survey. Also, we have a standard laboratory now being managed by competent engineers. Before a contract is awarded, we ask contractors to do survey tests, geo-technical survey and any other test that should be done. Let me tell you one thing: the roads constructed by this administration will last longer than the one that we overlaid because we started from foundation. All those ones we overlaid we were unable to know what was under. We only peeped the surface.
Do you have any particular focus or programme for roads to farms settlements?
We are working towards it. In all the local government areas, we are grading all those ones we need to grade to link farm settlements to the township. We may tar them and make them more motor-able. Then we will create drains that will take care of erosion. All these are being done to aid agriculture. We are doing 240 kilometres in all the 16 local government areas of the state.
What can you say about the leadership skills of Governor Fayemi?
His spirit energises us. This is somebody that will leave the office by 1 am and inspect roads in the night when the contractors do their jobs because we have some contractors that work in the night because of the traffic. If you are one of his aides, you must be ready to give him answers whenever he calls you for information because he has the answers already. He is a workaholic. To us he is just like an energy drink. He gives us room to put all our efforts and work the more. We sleep less and work more because we know that when this man calls you, he will be asking you questions as if he was there. And truly, he was there. To me, he is a blessing to Ekiti State.