The company handling the Ibadan Circular Road project, ENL Consortium Limited, has threatened to drag Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, to court over an allegation that the firm jerked up the project cost from N14 billion to N67 billion and quoted N11 billion for bush clearing.
The firm, through its chairman, Prince Clement Haastrup, issued a seven-day ultimatum to Makinde to retract his statements and tender a public apology or be prepared for a court action.
The firm said the governor’s remarks were all attempts to damage its hard-earned reputation and scare financiers away from the project.
Newspeakonline recalls that when Governor Makinde visited the project site located around Lagos-Ibadan Bye-Pass, Ibadan, last week, he expressed disappointment at the level of work done so far, saying he was not satisfied with what he had heard and saw with the level of work done.
He expressed shock that a project, which was awarded since 2017, is still at about 5.5 per cent completed, adding that the government would pull back and review the processes before deciding on the way forward.
But the Executive Director, ENL Consortium, Dr. Kemi George, told the governor that the company had issues with some of its financial partners who pulled out of the deal and which was responsible for the slow pace of work on the project site.
Makinde who announced that he was stopping the project but later rescinded his decision, saying he had given a May 2020 deadline to the company to deliver the project in line with the original three-year contract.
A statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa said the decision to rescind the stop work order came on the heels of a follow-up meeting at the State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan shortly after the inspection tour.
The statement further read: “The Ibadan Circular Project is a 32-kilometre road contract awarded by the immediate past administration under a Build Operate and Transfer concessionaire arrangement at the cost of N67 billion.
“However, discoveries by the incumbent administration in Oyo State have confirmed that besides the extremely slow pace of work on the contract which meant that only 5.5 percent of work had been done in two and a half years, sections of the cost quoted may be apparently unjustifiable.
“For instance, documents at the disposal of Oyo State Government indicate that the ENL Consortium originally quoted N14 billion as the contract sum, whereas the former government went ahead to sign the contract at N67 billion.
“Again, the sum of 11 billion is being quoted for clearance of the bush on the 32-kilometre stretch of the road, while the same consortium is claiming to have spent the sum of N5 billion on some four or five culverts”
But Haastrup who addressed newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, said the press release was misleading and mischievous.
“From our Bills of Quantities, bush cutting is N750.58m,” he said. “But as if playing politics with governance, you deliberately quoted N11 billion as the cost of bush clearing, whereas it was clearly stated that the N11 billion covered a combination of 10 items for Bush clearing and all earthworks for the entire 32km.
“It is also pertinent to note that while we quoted N67 billion, two other Chinese construction firms quoted N70 billion and N82.5 billion.
The company boss said the governor dented his integrity and the business name of ENL Consortium Ltd and made the project a high political risk, which would amount to a default on government side if the financiers that were ready to fund the project choose to back out.
“It is therefore in the interest of Oyo state that you let us sit down together with mutual respect to clear the air on your misconceptions and also ensure that you send the right signal to our financiers.”
The company threatened to drag the state government to the Court of Arbitration in London if the contract was revoked.
“Finally, if you cross-check your records, and compare them with mine then you will concede that your press release was damaging, I demand a rebuttal and an open apology within seven days from your government,” he added.
“Should you refuse to tender public apology on your damaging and malicious statement against my person and the ENL Ltd within seven days, we will be left with no option than to seek redress in court to clear my image and that of the ENL”, Haastrup threatened.
The governor has however stated that it would hold ENL Consortium to its words and the dictates of the contractual agreement on the road, which is to deliver it by May 2020.