At a January 2014 forum tagged " Aviation Workers Buy-In", Senator Stella Oduah, the then Aviation Minister, proudly announced to her audience that immense progress had been made in the country's aviation sector under her.
A particular source of pride to her was the airports' remodelling exercise, which she frenziedly advertised at launch in 2011 as the cure to the infrastructural deficits at the country's airports.
"Already, through the guided implementation of the Masterplan, we have been able to rehabilitate and remodel all 22 airports across the country,” purred Oduah, who was dropped as minister the following month on account of corruption-related allegations.
Oduah, who spoke about the success of the remodelling exercise at every opportunity, was indicted by the House of Representatives and a presidential committee for compelling the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to buy her two bullet-proof cars in violation of the country's procurement regulations.
It did not take long for her claim of progress to be exposed as a cross between fantasy and fallacy.
Samuel Ortom, who briefly ran the ministry as supervising minister after Oduah's ouster, famously announced that she left behind debts totalling N174billion from the remodelling exercise.
What followed was a thinly veiled -repudiation of her extravagant claims of progress the exercise recorded.
On appointment as substantive Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, a former boss of the Federal Road Safety Corps, delivered a less than ringing endorsement of what Oduah had advertised as a success.
While presenting his scorecard after eight months in office, Chidoka, according to LEADERSHIP, said many of the contractors handling the remodelling exercise had nothing to show for the mobilisation funds and other contract funds collected and ordered them to refund such monies. He added that in many cases, the quality of the job was done was very poor, with some of the contracts abandoned. Chidoka, who hinted that Oduah had committed huge sums of money to the remodelling of airport terminals at the detriment of more fundamental aspects, halted further spending on the exercise. "We want to pull our resources away from the terminal remodelling and focus more on the security and safety of the airports," he said in September 2014.
Documents available to SaharaReporters show that the country got very little value from the huge sums committed to the remodelling exercise, which was conceived to be executed in three phases. In many instances, contractors received considerable sums, did very little work and poorly- or nothing at all. In many situations too, they received nothing and did nothing.
Of the 192 contracts awarded in the second phase of the exercise, only six, according to the documents, have been completed.
Three of these, somewhat expectedly, are terminal buildings at Ibadan, Sokoto and Ilorin airports. The others are for the separate contracts for the construction of a car park with toilets, perimeter road and wall cladding of the external surface of the terminal building-all at MAKIA Domestic Wing, Kano.
Abandoned, according to the documents, is the contract for the construction of pilgrims’ terminal at Port Harcourt Airport.
The contractor, Inter Bau Nig. Ltd, documents show, was paid nothing out of the contract sum of N556,032, 216.52.
Unsurprisingly, the contractor has done nothing since the contract was awarded in November 2012.
For many of the contractors who got jobs in 2012, precious little has been done despite receiving considerable percentages of the contract sums. Paache Construction, which is handling the Cargo Terminal at Jos Airport, received N459, 214, 790. 85 out of the total contract sum of N785, 348, 493.56.
The percentage of work was done, said documents obtained from the Federal Airports Authority (FAAN), is zero.
For the construction of the cargo terminal at Markurdi Airport, Paache has been paid N613, 860, 476.67 out of N818, 480, 635.56 but has a job completion ratio of 15 %.
Newcastle Transactions, which got the contract for the upgrade and refurbishment of the Maiduguri Airport terminal building has a job completion assessment of zero per cent despite having received N259, 333, 796.60 of the N459, 450, 415. 20.
Another contractor with zero percent job completion ratio is Dari Investments, which received N69.7million as an advance on the contract for the installation of AFL at Owerri Airport. The total sum is N464, 743, 790.29.
ARDC, which won the contract for the refurbishment of existing VIP lounges at Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu airports was paid N272, 388, 246.29 out of N464,262, 437.63 but is adjudged by FAAN to have scored zero percent regarding completion.
The company did not fare better in its handling of the contract for the reconstruction and upgrade of the Lagos General Aviation Terminal for which it has been paid N308,089, 392.44 out of N363, 762,825 and completing just 15 % of the work. Similar non-performance was recorded in Maiduguri, where ARDC got the contract to build the airport cargo terminal at the sum of N485, 221, 140.47 out of which it has received N466, 925, 995.82 despite scoring zero percent in job completion assessment by the FAAN.
The pattern is copied by Lugapego Nig. Limited, which has the job of building the cargo terminal at Akure Airport. Job completion rating remains zero percent despite receiving N322, 727, 000.40 out of the total contract sum of N452, 950, 176. 00 for zero percent completion.
Obis Associates, which won the contract to build the pilgrims terminal at Enugu Airport has done 30 per cent of the job but has received N314, 806, 718.50 out of a total of N402, 384, 437. 28.
In 2013, 182 contracts were awarded, following a similar pattern of huge mobilisation and other sums paid out, but with little or nothing to show in terms of work done. In many cases, contractors were not paid any amount.
The contract for the procurement of illumination and floodlighting items for 16 airports awarded to Merry Communication, Electronics and Industrials Nigeria Limited is at zero percent completion most probably because the contractor is yet to be paid anything out of the sum of N2.8billion, which is the total contract sum.
LY2 Limited, which was to provide a new fire and rescue building at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, has similarly been paid nothing of the N494, 643, 226. 35 since the contract was awarded in 2013. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, its job completion rating is zero percent. Another contract it won for the construction of a perimeter asphalt road at Owerri Airport delivered the same experience, as it was paid nothing out of the total sum of N616.5million and has done nothing.
Archvisuals Solutions Limited, which was to supply two rescue ambulances to the Aminu Kano International Airport at a cost of N25, 777, 500 is yet to receive any part of the contract sum and has done nothing, the documents show. However, for the expansion of the existing apron at the same airport, it received N354,163, 689.14 out of N726, 489, 618.15 and has a job completion ratio of zero percent.
A dominant trend, as shown by the documents, in the contracts awarded in 2013 is the non-payment of mobilisation funds to many of the contractors, affecting their chances to perform. Curiously, many of the contracts are captured as ongoing. Despite the glitz and glamour it promised, the remodelling exercise had shown signs of opaqueness and had attracted questions since it was announced. In July 2013, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) had alleged in a petition that Oduah had awarded contracts to crony firms at bloated costs.
Many in the aviation sector and elsewhere also raised questions about the programme, especially its concentration on terminals at the detriment of safety and the enormous debt incurred. In June 2014, Nkiru Onyejeocha, then Chairman, House of Representatives Aviation Committee, expressed surprise at the scale of indebtedness. “I wish to state here that the committee frowns at such debt profile because we know that monies have been appropriated for most of the projects that you have been doing in aviation. It’s scary to have a debt profile of N174 billion in the Ministry of Aviation,” Onyejeocha told Ortom, who supervised the ministry after Oduah’s ouster. She also pointed out that most of the projects were about remodelling terminals and not to provide equipment that would improve safety.