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Sanwo-Olu, Badagary Deep Sea Port and the 2023 Hustle



For apparent reasons, beginning from 2007 till date, every serving Lagos State governor aspiring for a second term have always played extraordinary politics  in order to secure the required endorsement.

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Part of the political marketing is for such governor to ingratiate himself to various shades of electoral power houses, amongst them the lord temporal and lord spiritual, and of course the lord absolute; including the masses as the ultimate voters.

Perhaps that was what Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu did the week before when he announced a timetable for the construction of the controversial Badagry Deep Sea Port (DSP) which he said will commence in June this year, ahead of the 2023 elections.

Meanwhile political observers and experts say the governor’s effort underpins his game plan to adequately position himself for re-election in 2023, but noted he put the wrong foot out first, as far as the Badagry DSP is concerned.

What appears to have given credibility to the analysts’ views is the fact that a project of such industrial scale ought to have all the contractual, administrative, political and legal instruments ready, in addition to incidental requirements, to avoid the risk of white elephant syndrome and similar impediments; which are commonplace in our polity.

More so, given the controversial history of the Badagry DSP, Governor Sanwo-Olu may have played to the gallery when he casually set the timetable for the beginning of construction work without first addressing above critical demands in their true position, in relation to execution timeline.

When the governor stated that all that is left for the state to do is to secure the ratification of the Federal Government, which he propitiously fixed for April this year; he was already, overtly getting carried away by undefined self assurances, or else gravitating precipitously to political and official deceit.

Neither meets the measuring scale of the law of equitable performance which demands mental and official thoroughness and clarity, through meticulous planning and evaluation as the fundamentals for final decision making in business implementation; and or, in contracts and torts.

Governor Sanwo-Olu who gave above assurance during a stakeholders meeting and community engagement on the Badagry DSP at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) Topo, Badagry, didn’t provide clear information about the standoff between the host committee and the state government on the issue of compensation; which in the main was the biggest challenge that has so far derailed the project.

During the recent said engagement, the governor merely said he has assured the people of Badagry that his administration is determined to bring development to the Badagry axis of the state, and expressed government’s readiness to compensate residents for economic losses on buildings, ancestral lands, farms, and sites in order for the project to begin and run smoothly.

His assurances is however at conflict with the position of the prior government that initiated the Badagry DSP in 2012, and which disputed claims of compensation as outrageous, in its counter claim that the host community demands were unjustifiable, noting that claims to economic trees, farm lands settlements are fraudulent.

While Gov. Sanwo-Olu is yet to secure the Federal Government approval for the project through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the governor has already announced April timeline to getting a ratification from Abuja, waving aside the project approval by NPA as though the matter was one that could be settled with a fiat.

In his usual flamboyant and gregarious airs, the governor said, “We need to go to Abuja to get a re-ratification because it is NPA that owns the license for port. So, we need to get ratification from Abuja. That process has started and we are praying that before the end of April, we will get that ratification” , he announced through his spokesman, Gboyega Akosile.

The statement reads further: “The Badagry Deep Sea Port Project is not just one project; it is a multi-level opportunity for progress for all the people of this State in view of the volume of trade and quantum of investment opportunities that would spring up in the area when the project commences, and when it is completed and operational. Very importantly, employment and capacity building for the teeming youth and women in the affected communities will be prioritised.

“By the grace of God we will plan to see if we can start something by June. Once we get that ratification, we must activate something. We want to start the project as soon as possible. We want to deliberately push development to this axis.

While it is no doubt commendable that Gov. Sanwo-Olu resolved to continue from where the Fashola administration stopped, the demonstration of zeal and commitment to execute the project in a quick-march, forward-march military fashion is also something noteworthy about our governor.

However, the Badagry DSP is enveloped in a number of issues than the governor is willing to admit, perhaps so just to use the project as a political platform, nay, bobby trap to woo voters.

In 2019, the NPA cancelled the project estimated at $2.6billion, citing technical imperatives. But that was not the only challenge, the indigenes demand for compensation for land was considered not only outrageous but a sort of grandstanding the state government was willing to challenge.

According to those whose business it is to know, the state government said the land required was going to be reclaimed from the sea at equally a huge cost, and therefore rejected the demand for compensation made by the host committee; which the government considered out of tune with social justice.

The result of the cumulative challenges and the associated delays led to critical stakeholders’ withdrawal of interest from the Badagry DSP, some of whom were foreign investors. Did Governor Sanwo-Olu administration ignored the concerns raised by the past administrations? If yes, what are his reasons and how cogent are them in terms of sound business and contractual decisions?

Is it part of the one off administrative frauds undertaking simply to satisfy certain political ambition and or permutations? Is the financial cost about a questionable compensation package justified? How much is Gov. Sanwo-Olu paying as compensation, and what is the official asset valuation report on the matter?

It is also unlikely that the state government has gotten the Outline Business Case (OBC) for the project; which must precede every other talk or decision making regarding execution.  As a matter of fact, the OBC was one of the earlier challenges believed to have been faced by the project.

In a chat with the Tribune Newspaper in 2019, the immediate past Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Usman objected to the OBC which was believed to have conflicted with the Authority’s core responsibility in the Badagry DSP.

In an interview she granted Tribune, she said, “With Badagry deep seaport, the Outline Business Case (OBC) was reviewed. Some of the responsibilities of government were taken and put in the OBC for Badagry port.

“I have objected to that and written to the Federal Ministry of Transportation on this. I have also written letters to the promoters of the Badagry deep seaport, telling them that roles like marine services are responsibilities of government as stipulated within the Port Act. So they cannot take it away and say they are going to provide such services.

“We are currently discussing with them to review the projects OBC so that it states what their obligations are and what government obligations are.  When I assumed office, I inherited a consultant that was supposed to do a Port Master Plan for the Badagry project, but the consultant did a very bad job. When we took the job to the consultant that did the project’s Terms Of Reference (TOR), our internal people looked at it and said it wasn’t good enough. Even the consultant that did the TOR confirmed that the job wasn’t properly done.

“So because of these issues, we cancelled the contract, and the project’s promoters took us to court. We are currently in arbitration. Now we are working on re-awarding the contract”, she said

Who was the contract re-awarded to and when was it re-awarded? Has NPA approved a new OBC and issued the promoters a license? Who are the promoters in the present scheme of things?  It is necessary for Gov. Sanwo-Olu to provide answers to these questions, since they formed integral components of decision making in announcing the commencement of the project.

Experts posit that because the concession approval failed, the project financial business case (FBC) was not concluded. There are further explanations that following the cancellation of the project in 2019, even if the FBC had been concluded, the concession agreements would have to be negotiated, concluded and taken to the federal executive council (FEC), together with all other documents for fresh approval and ratification.

Thereafter, FEC would remit the agreement to the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMoJ) for certification, while the Federal Ministry of Finance (MoFI) is also required to certify and authenticate other documents.

From the above, it is pretty clear that it will be impossible for the groundwork fundamentals to be concluded by June as envisioned by Governor Sanwo-Olu. There are concerns that if the Lagos Governor has been misled in respect of the Badagry DSP, chances are that state funds may be wasted; especially where asset valuation and appropriation may have received less than required attention.

It is believed that the Eguns and Aworis who are the natives fought very hard to be compensated, separately, way back 2016. Lagos State argued that there was no land in the area but water which will have to be reclaimed, and that there was no basis to pay compensation, worse still outrageous figures.

More so, findings indicate that the promoters as well made ungodly demands, perhaps because they consider themselves particularly and politically influential. Logically, following the failure of the project, the promoters who are believed to be part of the member of a very influential Lagos family have since returned back to active politics.



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