AfDB cancels projects in Nigeria over corruption

Overwhelmed by complaints of failed water projects due to official corruption, the African Development Bank (ADB) has announced the cancellation of 80 per cent of its projects in the country. September 1, 2003

The Vice-President of the Bank, Dr Bisi Ogunjobi, made the announcement at the national workshop organised to draw up a policy on the new water initiative of “water for people, water for life,” held in Abuja at the weekend.

In spite of the cancellation of the projects, Ogunjobi who attributed the failure of the projects to “Nigerian factor,” told the state governments where such projects were sited, that “whether you like it or not you must repay the loans obtained for the projects.”

He acknowledged that most of the projects had been abandoned because of corruption and misdirection by benefiting state governments in the country.

He denied that the bank meddled with the implementation of the projects and accused state government officials of trying to obtain gratification on some of the projects.

“We know the problems we have with the projects. I promised to put Nigeria on intensive care. All non-functional projects have been cancelled,” he said.

Many officials, he said, were dishonest. He further advised them to put the people in mind first before self.

The outburst of Ogunjobi was elicited by barrage of complaints by state commissioners of water resources attending the workshop.

The Bauchi State Commissioner, Alhaji Umaru Dahiru, had said that the ADB-assisted water project in his state was executed with poor and obsolete materials following the recommendations of the consultant appointed by the bank.

“The bank just dump everything on Nigeria. The experience in Bauchi is bad and should not be repeated anywhere in Africa,” he said.

He accused ADB consultants of using steel pipes in the water project and “now corrosion of the pipes has started and very soon will give way.”

Dahiru said that the corroded pipes now colour the water and make it unsafe for consumption.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Edo State also complained of abandonment of its ADB water project at 70 per cent completion.

NAN check shows that almost all states have failed ADB water projects sited in their territories.

In his reaction to the debate, Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari enjoined Nigerian officials to be honest if they want to benefit from development partners.

“What we have to do is to put the people first before self, otherwise projects will become moribund,” he said.

“From day one, projects will fail if you think of what to get out of it before it starts,” he warned.

The minister emphasised that the government was placing priority on small dams to provide water for consumption, irrigation and for animals.

Ogunjobi, said N1.52 trillion would be spent annually to meet the target of water supply to the rural urban areas in Africa by 2015.

He said more than N1.9 trillion would be spent yearly to finance its rural water supply and sanitation initiative for African countries.

Ogunjobi explained that 80 per cent of investments in water supply and sanitation in Africa had been for urban projects and only 20 per cent for rural water supply.

“The bank is taking steps to rectify this imbalance through the rural water supply and sanitation initiative,” he said.

The project which had been divided into three phases, is aimed at reducing by half, the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015.

“Achieving these targets in Africa means providing water and sanitation services to over 19 million rural inhabitants every year over the next 22 years,” he explained.

He stressed the need for governments to increase funding and accelerate the rate of implementation of water projects.

Ogunjobi also advised that consumers should be made to pay economy rate for water consumption to enable the projects raise money to offset cost of production.

This Day, September 1, 2003

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