On Friday while campaigning for the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in Anambra state, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made a bogus claim that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government through Nigeria's Sovereign Wealth Fund paid a whopping $2billion for the Second Niger Bridge.
Here are the facts:
The Second Niger Bridge was awarded to Julius Berger in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan at the cost of N177 billion. The contract was based on a Public-Private Partnership arrangement.
Julius Berger is to work on the project on the basis of Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT), at a total cost of N108 billion. The money was reduced from an initial cost of N138 billion down to N108 billion by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
The Federal Government is to contribute N30 billion (28%) of the project cost. The remaining 72% will be raised by Julius Berger.
The project, which is divided into three phases, will bypass Onitsha and Asaba to connect the Owerri-Onitsha Expressway at Nkwerre-Ezunaka, and then cross Atani to the Asaba-Benin Expressway at Okpanam with a total length of 44 kilometres.
Note that the entire Second Niger Bridge project is to cost N108 billion
after the review by the BPP.
"In fact, I am being reminded that just two days ago, the Sovereign Wealth Fund paid $2billion for that same project [Second Niger Bridge ]. So we will definitely see our Second Niger Bridge. We will not make promises we cannot keep.”
VP Osinbajo said on Friday in Anambra.
The claim by Osinbajo is not just false, but also very deceptive. It can best be described as a political statement meant to deceive those clamouring for the construction of a bridge that was awarded in 2014 which has now become a subject for political campaigns.
First and foremost, there is no way $2billion translating to N712 billion can be spent on a project that was awarded for N108 billion. If we are to go by Osinbajo's statement, it means that the project will gulp an additional N604 billion apart from the contracted amount.
It is either Osinbajo didn't know what he was saying or he intentionally decided to mislead Nigerians on national television to create the impression that the Buhari-led government has the interest of people from the region at heart.
As at September 2017, Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth fund stood at $2billion, according to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, Uche Orji in a report by Bloomberg.
So, it is preposterous to say that the government released $2billion for the Second Niger Bridge which is the exact amount in the SWF account.
In June 2017, the Chairman Committee on Media and Publicity in the House of Representatives, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas revealed that the Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola refused to spend a Kobo out of N12 billion appropriated for the Second Niger Bridge in the 2016 budget.
It is clear that Osinbajo's statement is absolutely false. It should be disregarded. Three years since the contract was awarded by Jonathan's administration after boasting to complete the bridge in 48 months, the completion of the bridge seems far-fetched.
The reality at hand shows that the bridge may likely be completed in 2020, according to Orji.
-Alexander Thandi Ubani is an Editor at tori.ng
Watch Osinbajo's video below: