By Ngozi Ekhator
A group, Edo Transparency Initiative (ETI), has called out Governor Godwin Obaseki on his threat to probe the multi-billion naira Benin Storm Water Master Plan conceived by the administration of former Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning and former Commissioner of Environment and Public Utilities in the State, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, had during his courtesy call on the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, last Thursday, appealed to the royal father to request the state government to continue with the Storm Water Master Plan.
The storm Water Master Plan was conceived to combat the menace of flooding in Benin City.
The state government had kicked on the grounds that the minister sought royal intervention in the continuation of the critical project that has implications for the wellbeing of the residents, many of whom had lost property worth millions of naira to perennial flooding.
Special Adviser on Media and Public Communication, Crusoe Osagie who spoke on behalf of Governor Obaseki, had threatened to probe former Governor Oshiomhole and Prince Agba in connection with the project.
But in a statement signed by its coordinator, Felix Osahon, ETI asked Obaseki’s government to quickly institute the probe and make sure it makes the findings of the probe public so that Edo people would know the truth of the matter.
According to the group, “Edo people would take the opportunity of the probe to know who is deceiving them as far as the Benin Storm Water Master Plan is concerned.
“We know that the project was jointly handled by two ministries: Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities and Ministry of Works; and, not less than five commissioners were appointed into these ministries throughout the eight years of Comrade Adam’s Oshiomhole as governor.
“Those who served as commissioners in the two ministries, apart from Agba, included the present Secretary to State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie and the suspended Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Barrister Anselm Ojezua.
“Within that period, we know how flooding in the city was tackled and how it subsided under Comrade Oshiomhole’s leadership. Governor Obaseki was part of the project as chairman of the State’s Economic Team and was instrumental to sourcing of the first N25 billion from the bond market through his company, Afrinvest, and the company reportedly got N650 million commission from the deal.
“We have information that the money has been fully paid back but we are surprised that instead of Governor Obaseki to keep fidelity to the continuation of the project, he is talking of probe.
“As far as our group is concerned, the idea of a probe of the Storm Water Master Plan is welcome and should be expeditiously done and open to all stakeholders.