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Edo Govt, APC in war of words over planned probe of N30billion Benin Storm Water Project

From Tony Osauzo, Benin

A dirty war that promises to expose secret ‎dealings in government is about to start in Edo as the state government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) square up over N30 billion multi-phase Benin City flood and erosion control project (Storm Water Project) commenced by the administration of ex-Comrade governor Adams Oshiomhole.

The State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, had while inspecting the Textile Mill Road catchment of the project on Monday, ‎alleged that the storm water project was conceived to defraud Edo people, adding that his administration will probe the project and recover all the money stolen through it.

“You can see for yourself that the so-called storm water project was a fraud; it was a contract to defraud Edo people. From what I can see now, the stormwater project in this catchment area was never designed to take water away from the area. The area was never drained. You can see the level of what we are doing now as compared with that of the previous administration.

“It is almost two-meter difference. There is no way you can drain water from a low land into a higher ground. We say we have experts and paid over N30 billion for this project. The person that supervised this project today calls himself a minister supervising bigger projects for the Federal Government. This is not acceptable.

“They have to explain to us how they spent the N30 billion on a project they claim will drain water from a community. But the project drains the water to nowhere. They have the boldness to claim that we abandoned the project which were never made or designed to work in the first place.

“Clearly, we will take the necessary precaution to recover all the money due to Edo people that was stolen from this project”, Obaseki said.

The govern‎ment followed up yesterday by alleging in a statement issued by Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq., that attempts were made to set fire on the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability housing sensitive documents relating to the project.

But the Edo All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Col. David Imuse (rtd) yesterday, dared Governor Obaseki to carry out his threat to probe the Benin storm water project, commenced by his predecessor.

The party, in a statement by its State Publicity Secretary, Chris Azebamwan, urged the governor to institute the storm water probe and make its findings public so that the very enlightened and informed Edo people would know the truth of the matter.

“The governor while inspecting the Textile Mill Road catchment of the project, in Benin City, this week said the stormwater project was designed not to work for the benefit of Edo people, adding that his administration will probe the project and recover all the money stolen through it.

“Edo people know that the project was jointly handled by the State Environment and Public Utilities and Works with several commissioners including the present Secretary to State Government, Osarodion Ogie, who was in charge of the Works Ministry, deeply involved.

“While the project was ongoing, Obaseki (as chairman of the Economic Team), regularly accompanied his predecessor to inspect the progress of work after he played the key role of sourcing the first N25 billion from the Capital Market through his company, Afrinvest, which reportedly got N1.5billion commission from the deal.

“The commission paid to Afrinvest was for acting as Consultants to the project and drafting the project proposal which, Obaseki as the Head of Economic team presented for approval to the State Executive Council and followed it up by shortlisting contractors for the project.

“It will be comical and equally ingenious of the Governor to carry out this probe. It will not only be revealing but end up as a milestone which could well turn out to become a benchmark for the country.

“The APC is disappointed over the failure of Governor Godwin Obaseki to showcase any achievement in his 100 days but would rather taking to chasing shadows by threatening to probe a project he supervised its takeoff and later abandoned”, the statement said.

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