Home Interview SPECIAL INTERVIEW: It’s Not True Makinde Has Abandoned Silo, Atiba FM Station...

SPECIAL INTERVIEW: It’s Not True Makinde Has Abandoned Silo, Atiba FM Station Projects In Oyo — Rahvet Int’l Ltd Boss


In this interview with OYOINSIGHT.COM,  executive chairman of Rahvet International Ltd, Dr. Mufutau Iyiola Raheem, whose company handles the construction of the Intergrated 10,000 Metric Tonnes Agricultural Silo In Oyo, denied insinuation that the project has been abandoned. Excerpts.

In recent time, there are allegations that Oyo State Government has abandoned the Integrated Agricultural Silo Project in Oyo. The allegations went as far as indicating that the Government of Engr Seyi Makinde is just paying lip service to it and that the project is being starved of fund.

Truth be told. The allegations you referred to, wherever they may be coming from, are baseless and unfounded. They are simply figments of imagination of the peddlers which do not conform to reality on the ground. I have not seen anything that is farther from the truth as this.

The project is neither abandoned nor neglected. It is fully on course. My company is the one executing its construction. We have never abandoned the site for a second since the re-flagging off of the project; the payment obligations by the Government are being met as and when due. My company is likewisely fufilling its obligations in spite of some challenges. In a nutshell, the project is active, current, on-going and will soon be completed.

In actual fact, it should be stated clearly without ambiguity that Governor Seyi Makinde rescued the project from being a white elephant or abandoned one. Credit with accolades should be given to him.

Do you think the Government of Oyo State attaches importance to this silo project?

I will give you three instances, out of many, that provide answer to your question. Number 1, the first official assignment of Governor Seyi Makinde after being inaugurated and sworn in as the Executive Governor of Oyo State was the official and unscheduled visit to the silo project in Oyo. Before that time, the previous administration illegally, wrongly and forcefully took possession of the site from us. The new Governor then paid a fact-finding inspection visit to the site; he came with the Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka, Dr Debo Akande who later became Executive Assistant, Agribusiness and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture. There and then, he pronounced publicly that he was going to  re-start the project immediately by removing all the impediments and hindrances that constituted as headwinds against the project.

Number 2, right from day one in his Inauguration Speech as the Governor, he mentioned to the whole world that agriculture will be the focal point and mainstay of his government and that he will put emphasis on its sustainable development. He understood clearly that one can not talk of agricultural development without paying detailed attention to storage infrastructure. Number 3, you will recall that during the first year in office, he always mentioned the issue of silo project at all fora or public engagements. It is so special and dear to him, I think.

What makes this particular silo project so important?

This particular silo is a special and unique project, and by the time it is completed, it is going to be the first of its kind in Nigeria and in this part of Africa. The technology behind it is very modern and it is indeed a state-of-the-art structure. It is highly automated, having efficient flow processes with very long life span. It can effectively store grains without change in quality for 12 years. It has a facility to re-condition infested grains (we call it grains hospital), it comes with highly efficient flash drier for drying wet grains to a particular moisture level before storage. It also comes with grains laboratory with state-of-the-art testing and analysis instruments and tools. Furthermore, it is designed to have a fully stocked Maintenance Section to handle repairs and maintenance of not only this silo but also to handle jobs from other silos in Nigeria because there is acute shortage of expertise in this area in the country. The warehouse facility is so big and to be installed in it is automated bagging plant. It also has Drivers Lodge with 8 rooms for the accommodation of truck drivers that bring grains consignment to the site. Lastly, the industrial borehole sunk there has a highly productive yield that can supply water to a community. Each of all these facilities are planned to be separate business units to attract revenue and income for the Government.

Perhaps, I should mention that this Integrated 10,000 Metric Tonnes Agricultural Silo is a turn-key project, implying that Rahvet conceptualized, planned, and is constructing the silo with a view to deliver and hand over the project to the Government very soon.  

Before coming to asking what are the benefits derivable from this project to the people of Oyo State in general and Oyo Community and environ in particular, let me quickly ask you what is the current status of the project?

Before the inauguration of Governor Seyi Makinde as the Executive Governor of Oyo State, my company instituted legal suit in Oyo High Court against the Government of Oyo State, and some of its officials including the then Governor of blessed memory,  for several infractions, infringement of rights, lack of adherence to contractual agreement and so on. There were some injunctions in our favour and we were determined to follow the case to its logical conclusion. However, as fate would have it and in the wisdom of the new Governor, after weighing the pros and cons of the issues, the matter was settled out of court amicably. The two Parties agreed to a revised additional contract sum to complete the project. Pronto, we got back to the site after the Hon Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon Ojekunle Ojemuyiwa Jacob, flagged off the re-starting of the project.

Based on the  Programme of Work agreed with the Ministry of Agriculture, the remaining work at the site was divided in to two phases: Phases I and II. We have completed Phase I successfully and just starting Phase II. Phase I was the most difficult and complex of the total work. It involved constructing the underground foundation of the silo in which the bulk of the construction lies. The foundation that will bear a pay load of 10,000metric tonnes ( equivalent of the total loads that can be carried by 330 units of 30-tonne heavy trucks) must be super solid and extra-strengthened. We did it successfully. Phase II work which we are just starting will be done very well also. Let me emphasise at this point that at no time was payment from the present Government an issue. We are being promptly paid as and when due.

Can you give us the time line for the completion of this project?

The work in Phase II shall be completed and it is expected that the project will be delivered and handed over to the Government by end of December, 2020. You will recall that Governor Seyi Makinde, in his Budget 2020 Speech, gave an indication that the project should be completed within a time span of 10 months more. Being an astute and well experienced Engineer, he has envisaged the structural issues that could impact on the project.

What are the challenges facing the early completion of the project?

One major challenge that we experienced was the inability of the Chinese engineers from our foreign technical partners to have arrived and joined us for the construction of the underground silo foundation  because of covid-19 pandemic which shut down international travels. We got over this problem by looking inward and we were able to come up with a well experienced team of thoroughbred silo engineers in Nigeria that performed creditably even to the admiration of our foreign technical partners that were monitoring and supervising our work. What I am saying here simply is that instead of hiding under force majeure clause in the project agreement by coming up with the excuse that the work will be suspended until further notice because of covid-19 lockdown, we took a plunge to get the work done.

Furthermore, it is quite unfortunate that people don’t understand the nature and technical structure of a typical silo. Many people that passed by the silo site would ordinarily think that nothing is happening inside since they have not seen the silo tall structure in the skyline. In engineering, there is a process; you can not put something on nothing. A lot of work is going on and we will soon start the installation work by which time we expect the installation engineers from our partners to be here.

I would not say that waging of campaign of calumny from certain quarters is a challenge. To Rahvet, it is an important factor in the production function in our area. We are living with it. It is part of the new normal. Once you are convinced that you are doing the right thing, eh guy, don’t look back.

Are the Government-wide Ministries, Departments and Agencies supporting your company towardsthe completion of the project?

There is no doubt that the present Administration has a very good team, most of them coming from the private sector. Even the technocrats are efficient and pro-active. The Ministry of Agriculture, the project client, is highly supportive and helpful. The Ministry of Works, being the supervising Ministry is thorough, extra-hard working with zero tolerance for shoddy jobs. The other supervising agencies such as Monitoring Unit, Due Process and Auditor General Office are superb, all of them are endowed with eagle eyes for details while ensuring specifications are met. We enjoyed working with all of them, even though they are tough and they don’t spare us.. They are real professionals  

Now, what are the benefits of the silo project?

There are many benefits and advantages of the project. In the first instance, it will enhance food security situation in Oyo State. Integrated development of agriculture cannot take place without storage infrastructure. It is on record that Nigeria on the average experiences up to about 30% post-harvest losses and this happens mainly because of lack of storage capacity. The farmers are forced to sell their produce cheaply during harvest because they lack storage facility. Furthermore, instead of having the usual high spikes in produce prices, the availability of silo facility can smoothen or level the price curve by government by way of releasing silo inputs into the market during period of scarcity so that the induced prices can be affordable to people.

Employment generation is another aspect. At the last count, it was estimated roughly that about 105,000 jobs will be directly and mostly indirectly created by the facility. It will impact on the economic activities in the farming community. The nexus between the silo facility and the nearby Elekara (Alaaka) Grains Market in Oyo can not be over-emphasised. It is a case of one enhancing the other. Alaaka Grains Market is the biggest grains market in the southern part of Nigeria. The silo facility will be boosting the activities in the grains market while the grains market on the other hand will be a veritable source of supply feeding the silo. The project will have a gravitational pull effect by enhancing the sustainable socio-economic effect of the state-wide economy.

Also, it would be a source of revenue and income for Oyo State Government. There are about five business focal units within the silo structure and each of them will be generating income for the Government.

It was mentioned in the grapevine that a particular bank contributed negatively tothe early completion of the project. Is this true?

I would say that this is not the appropriate platform to discuss this issue. I will respectfully skip your question. But the issue is being addressed.

It was understood that your company, Rahvet, is also handling another project, to be specific, Atiba FMRadio Station for the Government in Oyo City. It was said that this project has been abandoned by the Government. What can you say here?

It is correct that Rahvet is also the contractor handling this project. It is also a turnkey project, very unique and first of its kind. Together with our foreign technical partner, we planned it to be a reference point in African broadcasting. The projected was awarded by the previous government but did not effect the contractual mobilization payment. The Government did not pay any amount to the contractor. Instead the contractor spent and utilized its own resources to start the project and built it to the level where it was estimated by the Ministry of Works to be about N27 million valuation then. Instead of paying the contractor, the then Government, without cogent and valid reasons, went ahead to cancel the project illegally and wrongly. However, the out-of-court settlement agreement reached with the new Administration has untangled that.

Furthermore, the new Administration of Governor Seyi Makinde inaugurated a Committee to review some of the contracts awarded by the previous Administration. This Radio Station Project was listed as among the reviewed projects. The White Paper of the Report of the Committee is being awaited and it is hoped that Governor Seyi Makinde will rescue  the Atiba FM Radio project as he did for the Silo project. For clarity, it is not the present Government that abandoned the project.

What will be your assessment of the performance of Governor Makinde so far?

You are asking me to assess my employer? You know that in construction parlance, the Government is the employer. This is a difficult question to answer. However, I will take courage and say what I know objectively.

Governor Makinde is a silent worker, he talks less and act more. He is goal-oriented with innovative and analytical mind, highly circumspective and reflective. He is gifted, very cool, calm and calculated. He is very nice and simple but can be elegantly tough and firm if need be. He is a long ranger with vision. He is a deep thinker that understands human dynamics and their interfacing. If you are going to meet him, you better be sure of your facts. He is the type that crosses the bridge before he gets there and that is an attribute of visionary leaders that think ahead.. I am very sure he will achieve his goals regarding the performance of this Administration. With the Governor, the contractors are always on their toes because he has a unique way of carrying out inspections of the projects. He can inspect your project at any time. I think he works 24/7.


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