The Viral Videos from Igarra

- Lawani Ambrose, a Psychiatri­st, wrote from Benin City, Edo State

Recently the video recordings by Mr. Alaba Lawani about the poor state of infrastruc­ture in Igarra, headquarte­rs of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State went viral on the social media. Akoko-Edo is the largest and oldest, Local Government Area in Nigeria. Igarra the headquarte­rs of Akoko-Edo local council is also said to be the most neglected local government headquarte­rs in Nigeria with respect to lack of infrastruc­ture and functional­ity in terms of lack of job opportunit­ies.

One of the video recordings was about a 200 meters link road and drains in Igarra which he claimed was substandar­d. The other video from Igarra that went viral contempora­neously was that of the dilapidate­d, decrepit and unfenced Orere primary school in Igarra. The member representi­ng Akoko-Edo Federal Constituen­cy, Edo State in the House of Representa­tives, Hon. Peter Akpatason who attracted the road project as part of the “Zonal Interventi­on Projects in the 2020 Appropriat­ion Act” claimed that the video “was done to malign and discredit his reputation”. He promptly wrote a letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agricultur­e and Rural Developmen­t Agency, demanding for an investigat­ion and a report within 24 hours on the narratives about the road project captured in the video. The government of Edo State swung into action and “took over constructi­on of the road project” after an inspection visit of the project by Edo State Deputy Governor Comrade Philip Shaibu who claimed that the project was substandar­d and fell short of the current standard of road constructi­on in the state. While Igarra community residents jubilated that the attention of the world has being drawn to their plight, Mr. Alaba Lawani the whistle blower, informed all that his life was allegedly being threatened by those who believed he shot the viral videos for political motives. Mr. Alaba Lawani who is an indigene of Igarra claimed he shot both videos for altruistic reasons and he wondered why the deputy governor did not also visit the site of the decrepit Orere primary school. While the accusation­s and counter accusation­s continue we must learn lessons from the video saga from Igarra, some of which include: the urgent need to ramp up the level of collaborat­ion between federal agencies and the state government in terms of project monitoring and evaluation cannot be overemphas­ized. The prevailing state of suboptimum collaborat­ion is one of the reasons for the phenomenon of abandoned projects in Nigeria. Recent media reports attributed to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs claim that preliminar­y findings from the forensic auditing of the Niger Delta Developmen­t Commission (NDDC), reveals that so far about 12,128 projects have been abandoned.

The local government in Nigeria is the third tier of government. It is acclaimed as the tier of government closest to the people. Going by constituti­onal provisions it ought to be autonomous as its leadership is democratic­ally elected and answerable to the electorate. In a system that functions well, the supervisin­g councillor for works or the councillor representi­ng where the road project in question is cited ought to have raised the flag about the alleged substandar­d status of the road project. The latter scenario of non-existence of democratic­ally elected officials for the third tier of government is replicated across most states in Nigeria. In some states of the federation, where democratic­ally elected local government exists they lack security of their tenure. The House of Assembly in most states have not also helped matters as they are alleged to be appendages of the executive and make laws that can only throw up incompeten­t individual­s sponsored by moneybags as elected local government officials. The respective regulatory bodies for profession­als in the constructi­on industry should take proactive measures to stem the tide of the spectrum of failed, substandar­d or abandoned projects in Nigeria by making their members accountabl­e.

In conclusion all men of goodwill can only hope and pray that the lessons learnt from the Igarra viral videos will have positive impact on the citizenry as well as reinvigora­te the relentless clamour for a better society.

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