Political bickering thwarts Ogun N9bn power scheme, Amosun, Abiodun abandon Daniel’s project

Political bickering thwarts Ogun N9bn power scheme, Amosun, Abiodun abandon Daniel’s project

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About N9bn power plant purchased by the  Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s administration is rotting away in Abeokuta, the state capital, as successive governments failed to put the machines into use amid worsening outage in the state, DAUD OLATUNJI writes

Over 30 pieces of crated power plant equipment worth N9bn imported from China into Ogun State by the Gbenga Daniel administration has been languishing within the premises of the governor’s office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta for eleven years.

Daniel, who governed the state between May 29, 2003,  and  May 29,  2011,  had at the twilight of his administration inaugurated a 7.2 megawatts energy plant, but, unfortunately, he could not install the equipment when the administration’s tenure ended.

Daniel, while holding the sway as governor of gateway state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party,  had claimed that the decision to purchase the N9bn power equipment was part of his administration’s independent power project idea aimed at powering the then proposed but, now moribund new Abeokuta Business District, which he conceived at that time and as well as powering the state’s water supply equipment.

The former governor, in preparation for the project, had also gone ahead to facilitate the training of no fewer than 17 indigenes of the state in China in engineering, technical servicing and management of the equipment upon the installation at Oke-Mosan by an expatriate firm which served as the contractor of the project.

Daniel was succeeded in 2011 by Senator Ibikunle Amosun who also governed the state for eight years between May 29,  2011, and May 29, 2019, on the platform of the defunct  Action Congress of Nigeria which was later transformed to the All Progressives Congress.

Amosun, as the then governor, surprised many people of the state with his action when he did not move near the equipment which comprised different components including accessories.

Despite that the equipment was kept at the car park of the state secretariat which was a stone’s throw to his office, Amosun abandoned the machines which later got rotten for eight years. Rather than making use of the machines, Amosun mulled another idea of a power plant project running into another millions of naira.

Expectedly, a few years after Daniel’s exit in 2011, the decision by Amosun to jettison the inherited power plant equipment spewed up controversies between the two administrations.

The controversies and condemnations became too many for Amosun to endure over his decision to abandon the heavy machines, hence, he broke his silence.

Amosun’s government’s first reaction to the public outcry was made in 2014, three years after his assumption of office.

His Finance Commissioner, Kemi Adeosun spoke on his behalf during a budget meeting in 2014 when she gave an insight into why the N9bn power equipment procured by Daniel’s administration was lying idle in the state secretariat.

While rubbishing the equipment, she claimed that it was discovered to be obsolete and that the cost of installing it as well as the cost of maintenance, would provide a better and modern power plant to drive socio-economic activities in the state.

This acclaimed discovery propelled Amosun to procure new Gas Turbine engines while the existing power equipment bought by the previous administration remained unutilised.

In fact, the Amosun government declared publicly that it had told the contractor of the equipment to source for buyers so that money realised from the sale could be used to buy modern power equipment.

The then Amosun’s government said, “When we came into office, we met the power equipment on ground. N9bn has already been spent on that equipment, they were asking for an additional N5 billion. In addition, they wanted N3bn to install it. When you want to spend that kind of money, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis, which we did.

“We called in some power experts, they looked at the equipment and they said the equipment is about 20-years-old. To install it with N3bn Bi, with that money you can buy brand new equipment which is going to be far more efficient than that average equipment.

From the record, Amosun’s government statement was seen as an attack on Daniel who fired back, saying the equipment was not obsolete, claiming that the machines came from credible manufacturers.

Daniel,  through his aide, Ayo Giwa, now late, said, “It is totally unfounded and criminal to say that the power equipment was obsolete. They were purchased from reputable manufacturers, renowned for best practices in the sector.

“As we speak, some of the equipment is generating and had been generating power at the Governor’s office complex including the state secretariat and the House of Assembly for an onward period of about three years (24/7 non-stop) and in some communities in the outskirts of Abeokuta, precisely where Day Waterman College was located along Siun-Sagamu Road.

If they are really outdated, good reasoning should inform them to return them to the manufacturers and get new ones and that is if they are in any way obsolete which is not true.

What looked like a sigh of relief came when another government took over the government which was believed would be friendly to Daniel and make use of the abandoned equipment.

Shockingly, Governor Dapo Abiodun who took over the mantle from Amosun in May 29, 2019, emulated Amosun by watching the equipment wasting away in the open.

Almost three years down the lane, Abiodun did not look in the direction of the machines while the N9bn equipment was wasting away.

A visit to the car park of the state secretariat, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta recently, revealed that the equipment was as good as a disused machine at a dumpsite waiting for scavengers to pick the pieces.

At the car park where the rotten equipment was abandoned, it was observed that no one gets near the place which was carved out. The tarpaulin that was used to cover the machines against rains has become tattered while the wooden crates which housed the equipment had been eaten up by termites.

The iron rods that were placed separately within the carved area have worn out and began to peel. Weeds have crept into the designated area and have overgrown around the iron rods and the heavy machines.

A-two minute-movement was made to the proposed power plant workshop located within the governor’s office, but, with demarcation, showed that the Daniel administration had set aside about two acres of land for the project.

A visit to the designated power plant revealed that 11 years later, some equipment and assets were still lying fallow both in the governor’s office and the power plant workshop.

Upon entering the place, there is a plaque on the wall of a  bungalow building with the inscription “this plaque is unveiled to commemorate official commissioning of 7MW mini power plant For government office complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta as part of 23 other locations by His Excellency, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, governor of Ogun state on Tuesday 24, May 2011. Gateway state … Setting the pace in independent power generation.”

The bungalow building painted in brown had another inscription “7MW Power Plant. On that acre of land, there are other buildings, mostly not completed but all abandoned. There are vehicles belonging to the Bureau of Electrical Engineering while a few workers were seen in the facility sitting idle.

There are about six turbines in that facility that had already grown weeds while other equipment of different sizes and shapes were also seen there rotting away.

As of the time of filing this report, Abiodun who is the third governor in the web of this failed power project was two months away from three years in the saddle.

When contacted, Special Adviser to the governor on Communications, Remmy Hazzan, said the government was on the verge of activating the machines when it assumed office, but was discouraged by the arbitration award.

Hazzan said the present government inherited arbitration costs which he said was double the worth of the project.

According to Hazzan, contrary to the claim of the previous government of Amosun that the equipment was obsolete and too expensive to run, the equipment used condemned oil from generating set among others.

He said “When that initiative was pursued by the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the intention was to have that plant in about eight different units, each having about 10 megawatts and the first one was immediately installed to test-run the facilities even though it wasn’t even installed in full capacity.

“What was installed was between five and 10 megawatts, less than 10 but it is more than five, that was what was put to use by all government facilities, the secretariat as well as Presidential quarters of government functionaries.

“But truth be told, it is quite economical to manage. It runs on used oil which is what we call condemned oil that comes from vehicles and other generating sets.

“Now, for eight years, that administration did not allow the deployment of the remaining units even the one that was deployed, the use of it was discontinued, so to say, and that made the contractors that imported the units to run into some kinds of financial inadequacies because the only unit that was deployed or delivered was not fully installed, even what you are seeing in Oke-Mosan are remnants of one unit that has not been fully installed.

“The remaining units were stored in the importers’ warehouse and some other borrowed warehouse facilities and that was accumulating cost, so, that importer decided now to take us to court to recover cost because it wasn’t by the doings of that importer that the things were stored longer than necessary in the storage facility.”

Hazzan said shortly before Amosun’s government left office, the contractors had taken the state government to court asking for damages for abandoning the equipment in his warehouse.    ,,

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