Tinubu backs Umahi over war against contractors

President Bola Tinubu has backed Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, on plans to use concrete for construction of roads across the country, against what he called a “gang-up” by some road contractors opposed to the policy.

He made the disclosure to State House Correspondents after he met with President Bola Tinubu at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

According to him, some contractors with the backing of what he called “enemies within” have ganged up to frustrate the policy, and President Tinubu has given him the go ahead to resist the blackmail and do what is right and for the benefits of Nigerians.

Umahi added that some have keyed into the policy just as major cement producers have agreed to discount prices for such government road builders.

He also highlighted the advantages of cement roads over asphalt/bitumen, including cheaper costs and the need to encourage local production of cement against importation of bitumen.

Umahi warned contractors against the dodgy attitude of securing about 20 projects but end up deploying as few as two units of equipment to site.

He said: “There are some elements within that are also fighting me, who are also benefitting from the system and that is the greatest problem we have, and I just can’t pretend. I will flush those elements out and send them to ICPC to handle them because nobody can hold this country to ransom. So, I’m giving them the last chance to conform so we can help Mr. President to reset the country.

“Then, we’re also leveraging on the contract we signed; it’s 14 days’ notice we are going to give. I’ve had more than 10 different meetings with contractors where we discussed this. We developed the design, we even developed the cost of doing concrete from the first principle; how much is cement, and the cement factories, the Dangote, the BUA, have agreed to give special discount to our contractors who are going to engage on concrete road pavement, and many contractors are already doing it.

“Not all the contractors are in this gang up, many contractors have come to sign addendum, doing the road pavements. Those who are meeting are going to be losers and before them they will see that we do the job, and we will do it very well.”

Umahi noted that Clause 51 of the general conditions of contract which form part of the contract signed with contractors allows the government to do this.

He said: “That Clause says that the employer, which is Mr. President, represented by the Honorable Minister for Works, shall have the powers, the legal rights, the liberty to change the quality of an ongoing contract, to change the quantity, to change the scope and this what we are leveraging to do. And I want Nigerians to support that our roads should be constructed on concrete.

“Of course, it’s going to bring a lot of our local contractors to compete and to get jobs and reduce capital flight. There is no amount of gang up within and outside that is going to change this, so far that we are fighting for the interest of the people backed by God and approved by Mr. President, there’s no going back.

“I need the support from Nigerians on this renewed hope on our road sector. If you go from here to Lokoja to Benin to Warri, there are no roads. You will see queues. I got a warning letter from NUPENG threatening to down their services if the roads in Warri, Benin, Port Harcourt are not fixed. 

“We have directed the contractors to go and start work. After 14 days as allowed in the contract, any contractor that fails to be on site doing permanent work will have his contract terminated. That’s what the law says.

“And I want to assure contractors that our local people can do this work and do it very well. So there is no need of meeting because the contract was signed individually. And so if you are meeting to present a common front to frighten me with a high cost of concrete cost, is a waste of time because you’re have concrete costs in your bills you signed. So, what I do is to come and combine your concrete cost and your reinforcement cost and give you a cost for placement. And that’s what the contract allows.

“I want Nigerians to understand what is going on and I won’t stop shouting this there is no secrecy. It is taxpayers money. And Mr. President wants to reset this country. He wants to make a difference. And we know that road is everything in this country. It reduces kidnapping, it create jobs, it creates economic activities. It increases the GDP of the country and that of the states, it helps in agriculture and education, in everything. If you cannot interact then there’ no…  So this is very important and we are going to do everything to get this done.

“And let me also announce to Nigerians that Mr. President is a listening President. All the interventions we requested in our East-West Road in Benin-Sapele road, in Lokoja, in Shandam Lafia, you know, the bridge that has broken, in the two bridges in Enugu that got broken, in a Owerri-Onitsha road that got broken at two points. The third mainland bridge resurfacing and the underneath work. I can’t finish all, they have all been approved by Mr. President.

“So we have set up Taskforce in all the locations where these approval that were made by Mr President to ensure that within three months we would conclude all that is needed based on their approval.

“And let me also announce that we have Taskforce that would supervise for contractors, all the way from Lokoja to Benin, to Warri, Bayelsa, Rivers State and Cross River. We are also deploying consultants to supervise our roads. Our engineers will also be sites to learn from experience. Mr. President has also given approval.

“I want to also warned contractors, there are some contractors that are quoting for jobs and  they have two equipment on site. It can no longer be the same. We have minimum requirements of equipment on site for a particular work.  And if you don’t have it you will leave the site. Nobody can hold this country to ransom.

“Our local contractors are advised to wake up. I did it in a Ebonyi State, every civil service became an engineer our stakeholders became an engineer. We have to do it again and again and again. But we will welcome our expatriates contractors. We want them to respect us, to respect our culture. Because what is being done here cannot be done outside this country

“We have to respect us. They have to respect the culture of this country. They have to respect the laws of the country.

“Many of the contractors that NNPC paid have not gone to site, some got N3 billion and have not been to sites. And I want the stakeholders to   know that is about our country, it’s about our children and this is very important.

“Many of the contractors that NNPC paid have not gone to site, some got N3 billion and have not been to sites. And I want the stakeholders to   know that is about our country, it’s about our children and this is very important. I want buy-in of stakeholders.

“Many of the contractors are in support, a lot of them are already in  support of what Mr. President is doing in the direction of our government pad sector. So, this is what I discussed with Mr President and I am very happy that I got all my approvals.”


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