Being Talking Points By Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi at a Press Briefing on October 30th 2018
Gentlemen of the press, we are all witnesses to the recent happenings in Lagos State as regards the controversial Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract between Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited and the Lagos State Government.
For what is now commonly referred to as “Visonscam” excerpts of the agreement as reported by Businessday reads:
“Pursuant to the Lagos State Executive Council Resolution (Ref. No.SSG/CO/S.126/VOL.XVI/60) passed on the Provision of a Guarantee for the above mentioned contract, and following the execution of State wide Residential and General Waste Collection Agreement between Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited, and the Lagos State Government, and under which Agreement the LASG is required to issue to the Contractor a guarantee, I am directed to convey the approval for an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) in respect of the above referenced Contract Agreement.”
“Consequent upon the above, this office would implement the monthly remittance of the gross sum of Seven Hundred and Thirteen Million, Seven Hundred Thousand Naira Only (NGN713,700,000) as a first line charge from the revenue account of Lagos State Government which is to commence in June 2017 and terminate in June 2027.”
The consequence according to the media report, which was never rebutted by the Lagos State government or Visionscape, was that “in a 1 year period the state would spend N8.56 billion as guarantees for the bond and be on the hook for about N85 billion over the 10 year timeline on just this one transaction.”
Since the time we launched the “Our Water , Our Right” campaign in 2015, we have been unambiguous in condemning Ambode’s wholesale adoption of the PPP model for tackling Public Service challenges. We have been bold in declaring that PPP is no other than “legalized sleaze” and you really need not go too far. We only need to re-examine the Lekki-Toll gate PPP failure, the failure in the now privatized power section just to mention two.
We have specifically mobilized Lagosians to reject Ambode’s planned privatization or PPP in the water sector, insisting that water as human right should be publicly and democratically controlled. We mobilized the people to call on the World Bank which recently admitted that it had in cases wrongly advised Nigerian governments in their developmental agenda, to stay off our water.
In our publication, Lagos Water Crisis : Alternative Roadmap for Water Sector, we made recommendation to government on publicly controlled strategies to resolve the Lagos Water crisis as against privatization or PPP.
All along what we got were conflicting statements from officials of the Ambode government . But a detailed report on the status of Lagos PPP water projects in Lagos published by Global Water Intelligence – an international water journal in May this year listed Veolia, Abengoa and Metito as corporations already tipped to manage Adiyan II and other major Lagos water infrastructure. The journal , referenced the current General Manager of the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC), Engr. Mumuni Badmus as its source
Shockingly, Veolia last month denied bidding for any of the projects. It in contrast, revealed that it was actually the Lagos government that approached it to offer a management contract.
We must also point that originally LWC had long advertised the Metito bid as a joint bid with the Visionscape Water Solutions Limited. We have no reason to believe that Visionscape had dropped from the consortium but that the Lagos state government was simply playing smart.
Nonetheless, we had raised alarm during the course of our campaign that Vision scape lacked the capacity to handle the job bestowed on it in waste management and that it will be dangerous to hand over Lagos water infrastructure to such incompetent corporation.
More than one year on, the company has failed woefully. Huge piles of debt are now completed for space on Lagos highways and streets. There is the fear of major epidemic in the city except urgent actions are taken.
We thank Visonscape for vindicating us.
The dismal performance of Visionscape which resulted in its sack by the Lagos State House of Assembly (whether the House has the constitutional powers to do so or not), is a vindication of our stand that Visionscape was a hasty contraption intended to milk Lagos citizens and show that PPP works. But alas! It has not worked and Lagos citizens have another proof that PPP is a false solution.
Whichever way, like waste management, like water. Our alarm last year was that Visionscape was also being positioned along with some other companies with global track-record of infractions to manage Adiyan II and other water schemes in Lagos under the same PPP arrangement. The magnitude of such a disaster replicated in the water sector is unimaginable.
We will continue agitating till we have clear statements from the Lagos government on its roadmap to ensuring Lagos citizens enjoy their right to safe and abundant water within a democratically-controlled space. Handing our water infrastructure to privatisers will only stifle that space as documented PPP water privatizations around the globe have shown. From Cameroon to Ghana, Gabon, Tanzania to Beunos Aires, Manila, Nagpur and Paris. Infact, countries that experimented the PPP water privatization are taking back their water.
While we remain non-partisan, we commend the State House of Assembly for revoking the Visionscape refuse management deal which has only moved Lagos citizens close to a health epidemic, but it doesn’t end there.
We are using this medium to also
Complete stoppage of the PPP processes in the water sector
Complete stoppage of all PPP processes initiated by the Ambode government.
Probe (including public hearing) of the Visonscape scandal with a view to ascertain how much it has cost (continue to cost) the Lagos tax payers.
Review of sections of the Lagos Environment Law that paved the way for Visionscape to emerge as the sole refuse management firm in Lagos
Recovery of all monies that Visionscape may have “illegally” received since it started operations in 2017
All who have compromised their positions and public trust be made to face justice.