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Edo: Governor Obaseki blasts Minister Over N30billion Benin Water Storm Project



The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has raised issues over the N30 billion Benin Stormwater Project initiated by the previous administration in the state. He blasted the Minister of State for Budget and planning, Clem Agba and alleged that the project may have been used to defraud the state.
The governor made the submission while inspecting the Textile Mill Road catchment of the project, in Benin City.
He said the stormwater project, which was conceived by the previous administration, 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.
“You can see for yourself that the so-called stormwater 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,” he said.
Obaseki noted, “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.”
He added that the previous administration spent huge sums of money on the water storm project claiming that on completion, it will drain water from the area and restore the property of Edo people living in that area.
He assured Edo people that his administration will do everything necessary to drain the area and restore life to the people, noting, “They spent N30 billion claiming that they want to take away the suffering of Edo people, de-flood the area and restore value to the people’s property. Look at what has happened now to this project for five years.”
He continued: “With what we have done now with less amount of money, we are going to finally drain this area and bring back life to the people in this catchment area. I don’t like probing but this time we have to set up a panel to get the facts of what happened. We can’t throw away such a large amount of money. People must be made to account for their time in service in government.
“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.”
It will be recalled that in 2019 when he visited Benin, Clem Agba, the  Minister of State for Budget and National Planning called for the intervention of Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, in ensuring the continuation of the Benin storm water master plan by the Edo State Government.

He said the project was started by the administration of former Governor Adams Oshiomole to address the menace of perennial flooding in Benin City.
Agba advised that nobody should play politics with the flooding in the city, noting that the final solution to the disaster in many parts of the city required up to 30 years of continuous implementation of the Benin storm water master plan as advised by experts.
Clarifying the sum of N30bn claimed to be earmarked for the project, the minister said, “This represents money expended on the Uwelu East and West water storm project in the master plan. The scope of work includes the construction of nine roads, one of which is a seven-kilometre dual carriageway; all nine roads with street lights, walkways, drains among others.”
It is now obvious that the Governor disagrees with Clem Agba who was the Edo State Commissioner of Environment at the time the project was conceived. The governor said the works was not only shoddy but certainly fell flat in terms of value for money.
The Governor’s position is not different from the opinion expressed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Gubernatorial candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Writing on the project in an article published on November 6th, 2015, he stated “
“I was very delighted when Governor Adams Oshiomhole announced the commencement of the Benin Storm Water Project, Programmed to de-flood the whole of Siluko area, Ekenwan, Ogida, Ogbe, Airport, Uwasota and greater part of Ugbowo all to Ogba River.
“The advisability of doing this project was predicated on a study conducted by a South African Firm called Aurecon who were paid a staggering sum of N450 Million for just the report. The project execution was given to Hitech, a construction company based in Lagos for a whopping cost of N30Billion which was sourced from the Capital market. A project of this magnitude ought to have been processed in a very transparent manner with regards to award and costing procedure but as it has become customary with Oshiomhole’s government, a less transparent method was adopted devoid of competitive bidding.
Undermining these shortcomings, Edo people waited with hope and expectation for the successful completion of this projects which would have been a watershed achievement. One year to the end of the Oshiomhole’s administration, we are informed that the project completion will take 30 years. The question agitating the mind of Edo people is when did the government realise that this project will take 30 years to complete?
The question is necessary because at no time in the project conception or award were Edo people told this completion period. Rather the impression created was that with the money sourced from the Capital Market and the award and deployment of the contractors to site, the project would be completed in record time. With the contract sum almost exhausted we are constrained to ask, who will pay the contractors for the next 30 years and how much remains unpaid? Professional assessment of what Hitech has done revealed that the contract is 30% completed. Who will pay the balance 70% of the contract that is yet completed?
What has prompted this post is not even the shocking new date of completion or the abysmal 30% work executed but the ominous signs, experts have observed with regards to the work done, which not only expose a shoddy execution of a very sensitive and technical project but should God forbid, trigger a major disaster comparable to the Ogunpa flood and erosion disaster of the 1980’s and 1990’s in Ibadan,Oyo State. It has been observed that when it rains, Ogba River now experience unprecedented flooding and the bridge is sometimes, submerged while some houses by the river basin or bank of the river have been completely destroyed.
If the Benin Storm Water Project at 30% completion is already causing such great damage, what will happen when the project is 100% completed if something drastic is not done and very urgently too. As is well known in project management, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Impact and Socio Economic Assignment (EISEA) are usually done before major engineering projects are done to avoid negative outcome or consequences. The need for remediation or preventive or mitigative measures are assessed before plans are made for resettlement and income amelioration, as the case may be. In the Benin Water Storm Project, it is doubtful if due studies were done given the signs now manifesting.
Had proper planning encompassing EIA, EISEA, and a baseline survey been done, safety valves would have been put in the project execution from the onset. Oba River suffers massive siltation due to the huge volume of flood and erosion that empty into it as a result of the high and aggressive urbanization. The vegetational cover of the river bank has since been de-wooded and deforested by farmers and loggers, exposing the banks to erosion of its own. Several persons channel their effluent to the river without control or check from government thereby destroying the aquatic diversity of the river

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: FG, Labour Meeting Ends in Deadlock




Talks between the Federal Government and organised labour over the removal of fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock on Wednesday as they failed to reach a consensus following the hike in petrol pump prices to over N700 from N195 per litre by oil marketers.

The hours-long meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa was to, among other things, prevent a labour crisis following the recent increase in the petrol pump price occasioned by the discontinuance of petroleum subsidy.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit to reflect the market realities. The agency, however, failed to state the new prices of petrol.

However, several retails outlets sold the product between 600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, pointed out that the hike in the cost of PMS would trigger galloping inflation in the country, stressing that some outlets in the South-East were currently dispensing the product at N1,200/l.

Ukadike stated, “Once NNPCL retail stations have adjusted their pumps to reflect the new price, there is nothing you can do about it; that is the new price. As I speak with you, all of them are now selling at the new prices. The situation is so bad, that somewhere in Ebonyi State our members informed us that it is now N1,200/litre.

“We thought the President would remove the subsidy through a seamless means because the source of this petrol is the NNPCL. They are the ones subsidising petroleum products, they are the people who use their revenue to subsidise this product.’’

The IPMAN spokesperson expressed worry over the rate of increase in inflation and hardship that would come as a result of the latest hike in petrol price.

“This hike in petrol price will definitely lead to galloping inflation and will worsen the hardship already being faced by the Nigerian masses. It is not something to cheer about. It came as a surprise and in the coming days, we will see the very harsh ripple effects,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ukadike has called on the Federal Government and the NNPCL to give other marketers the opportunity to start importing petrol in order to create competition in the sector.

“The NNPCL is importing and has not given people the opportunity to join them in importing so as to see whether private sector operators can import the product cheaper or not. So there is no competition. In a deregulated regime, there must be competition, everyone with capacity should be allowed to import,” the IPMAN official stated.

When asked whether other marketers could resume imports since the government had finally deregulated petrol prices, Ukadike replied, “Marketers can import, but let me tell you some of the factors militating against this. The first is that there won’t be availability of dollars.

“You will source your dollar from the parallel market and if you are not careful in doing this, and you go into the importation of petroleum products, you might not ‘come out of it alive’ at the end of the day.

“So what we are saying is that those advantages that NNPCL has, should be shared with other major importers of petroleum products. If it is through crude buy-back, they should let us know so that independent players such as IPMAN members can come together and be able to use it in the buy-back model.’’

He added, “For independent marketers, the most important thing is that there should be availability of petroleum products, and the government should open up the space for importers and investors to come in.”

NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running, confirmed the hike in petrol price in a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide.

But the move has sparked a groundswell of anger across the nation with the Nigeria Labour Congress demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.

The union also said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the fuel price increase which had triggered hoarding and scarcity across the country with attendant rise in transport fares, goods and services.

The fuel price hike by the oil firm is coming 72 hours after President Bola Tinubu declared in his inaugural address on Monday that the subsidy regime had ended.

To pacify the growing anger over the situation, the FG hastily summoned some labour leaders to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday evening.

The meeting had in attendance the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, former NLC President and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, and others, however, ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach a consensus.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joe Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”

He faulted the NNPCL over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.

He said the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negational table.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.

“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, and the government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.

The Punch

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Breaking: Founder, DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi is Dead




By Eric Elezuo

The Founder of DAAR Communications, owners of the foremost radio and television stations in Nigeria, Raypower and African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.

Reliable sources said the High Chief died while exercising on a treadmill on Monday afternoon.

The source said Dopkesi suffered a stroke some weeks ago.

Details soon…

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I Stand on Rule of Law, with Our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, PDP, Says Dele Momodu




By Eric Elezuo

Frontline journalist and Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Council in the just concluded Presidential election, Chief Dele Momodu, had said that he remains a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and will always stand on the side of rule of law, and with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Momodu made the revelations in a statement he signed himself, noting that the last election, which brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to power, was savagely manipulated by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He praised the steps Atiku, and the presidential candidate of the Labour candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, have taken in seeking legal redress.

The statement in details:


My position on the state of our country NIGERIA is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its Rule of Law. My political party PDP and others passionately hold the view that the last Presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts. Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR (GCON) who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard earned Democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.

I salute and respect The Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and Brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labor Party Presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of Democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests…


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