When the government of Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu in Niger state took the decision to go to the capital market to seek for bond to boost its developmental drive in 2009, some people felt he was putting a credit burden on the state.
Many of those opposed to government’s decision did not give it a chance because it was viewed as the usual loan and credit facilities. Though the idea was conceived in 2009, the money actually hit the state account in 2010
The criticisms that greeted the plan to obtain the bond however, did not stop the government from going ahead because the state house of assembly had already given the approval for the collection of the bond through the appropriation law as one of the capital receipts in 2009 and rolled over to 2010 budgets.
The argument was that bond was the most reliable form of seeking for capital for developmental projects, considering the fact that the percentage of interest is fixed with strict monitoring unlike the conventional loan.
The bond projects like any new governmental policies not well known to the people became subject of rumours, speculations and public commentary. In fact the opposition parties came hard on the decision of the government to obtain bond.
Albeit the government stood its ground to obtain the bond and consequently sought for a N6 billion bonds to execute infrastructural projects, especially road networks.
Governor Aliyu while seeking for the bond had told the people of the state that among other things, the bond would be used to open up the road networks as the surest way to actualise the dream of making the state one of the three top economies in Nigeria.
He had argued that the intention was not to create burden for the state hence the bond has an irrevocable standing order on which the payment would be made over a period of time that would not exceed the lifespan of his administration.
From available information, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that based on the irrevocable standing order, the bond would have been completely settled by 2014 which implies that the administration would not leave any bond repayment burden for the next administration.
The bond from the analysis made available then to journalists was to be used for the construction of Luma-Babanna road, Mokwa –Rabba- General Hospital road, construction of roads at the proposed three arms zone in Minna, and five other roads within the state capital.
It was also meant to open up the Gurara water falls through the Bunu – Gurara road, others were Batati-Dabban road, Industrial layout road Minna, Kutigi-Fazhi road and Birni-Gwari-Lapai road.
The contracts for the roads were awarded and the work began on the roads as captured in the N6 billion bond, yet people still did not believe it was a worthwhile venture. The people believed that the projects would not only be delayed but may not be executed.
Though none of those who were opposed to the obtaining of the bond actually kicked against the cost of the road projects and the imperatives of the selected roads as the roads obviously needed government attention.
For instance, the Luma-Babanna road in Borgu local government area has been an eyesore for some times. The construction of the road which cost N2.3 billion came as a relief to many people plying the road which is a border road to Benin Republic.
Before the construction of Babanna-Luma road, the residents who are actually Nigerians found it difficult to even come to the local government headquarters at New Bussa because of the deplorable state of the road.
The situation no doubt became a source of diplomatic embarrassment to the state and indeed the country.
The construction of Bunu Gurara waterfall road through the bond was also lauded because the road would open up the popular Gurara fall to investors, to invest on the popular tourism site. The work on the roads which cost about N142.2 million has since been completed.
It was based on the completion of the roads that a private investor recently indicated interest in investing some huge sum of money to transform the area to an international standard through a memorandum of understanding with the government.
Also, the rehabilitation of Minna industrial layout road which cost about N633.3 million has been completed and the intention is to open up the industrial layout for industrial activities to enable private sector to participate in the rejuvenation of the state’s economy.
Among the five roads constructed within Minna township: the Idiris Legbo Kutigi road, the Bay clinic road, Peter Sariki road are roads that have been deplorable for years despite being in the nerve centre of the state capital.
Also through the bond, the state government awarded the construction of internal access roads within the three arm zones to the tune of N898.7 million and this has reached over 65 per cent completion.
Other roads completed through the bond projects include Batati Daba road awarded at the cost of N436 million, construction of Kutigi Fazhi road awarded at the cost N241.5 million and Birni Gwari-Lapai road awarded at the cost of N313.3 million.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY’s visit to some of the road sites however, showed that some of the roads have not attained full level of completion. Most noticeable is the Mokwa-Raba general hospital road awarded at the cost of N348.5 million which has achieved only 51 per cent completion.
Some of the site engineers interviewed said that the slow pace of work at Mokwa-Raba road was due to the fact that the contract was revoked when the first contractor was not performing up to expectation and re-awarded to another contractor.
The Luma- Babanna road has reached 80 per cent level of completion, the three arm zones has also reached 65 per cent level of completion, while all others have been completed.
The question that lingers however, is whether the state government’s recent sourcing of another bond of N9 billion through 2011 fiscal budget and rolled over to 2012 budget to construct bridge among other things across the popular River Shiroro is also worthwhile?