Governor Adams Oshiomhole has set up an administrative panel to probe the remote and immediate causes of the fire that razed a part of the Ministry of Education building in Benin City, where records dating back to the 1950s were destroyed.
The Panel is to be headed by a retired judge of the Edo State High Court, Justice Roland Amaize.
The Governor who used the opportunity to dispel the insinuations by the opposition party that the fire could have been an attempt to conceal records of alleged missing SUBEB money said the fire had nothing to do with the removal of the former Commissioner for education or the sacking of the SUBEB board.
He said the PDP erred in its averment on allegedly missing SUBEB fund and alleged attempt to conceal same , noting that SUBEB is not located in the Ministry of Education building that was razed and the accounts department of the Ministry was also not located in the affected building.
The Governor maintained that government set up the probe panel because very important archival materials were destroyed in the fire.
He said: “let me disabuse the minds of our people that much as we do not know the cause of the incident, if it was sabotage, who was responsible. One thing is very clear and I am not in doubt, this has nothing to do with the events that that led to my having to remove the former commissioner and the dissolution of the SUBEB board. As a matter of fact, SUBEB is not
located in that particular building or in that premises. The accounts section of the ministry of education is not located in that place and is not affected.
“The only thing is affected as far as I have been briefed, and you will be able to establish the details of that(is ) that we are dealing basically with documents and archives, not finances not accounts materials.
“So those of our political opponents who are quick to think that everybody behaves like they do, namely to corruptly steal public funds and use it to help themselves and their cronies, that is not what we stand for.
He gave a four-pronged terms of reference to the committee:
To try and establish the possible remote and immediate causes of the fire
Help to establish and determine the items destroyed
Identify those who might be responsible, whether it might be an act of sabotage, negligence or both or whether it was natural
Advise government on how to avoid this kind of incidence in the future and
make recommendations that might be of help to government in the future.
The Governor noted that government will do everything possible to protect lives and property, including public property.
Chairman of the Committee, Justice Amaize in his response promised the Governor and the people of the state that the panel will do everything possible to get to the root of the fire and that they will give a feedback that will be of benefit to people of the state.
Other members of the administrative panel of inquiry are Dr Osagie Obayuwana, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr P.T Mustapha and Mr. Stephen Omoruyi.
…..Partners World Bank On Benin City Erosion..Sets Aside N500m
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has assured residents of Queen Ede, in Ogbeson quarters, Benin City that government would do everything possible to arrest the gully erosion ravaging the area, saying the state government is in partnership with the World Bank on the problem and that government has already set aside the sum of N500 million to address the
Oshiomhole gave the assurance when he conducted a team of World Bank officials on an inspection of the gulley erosion.
According to the governor, “we are doing our best as you can see I came with some expatriates from Washington who we have written to come and see what is happening so that they can design an appropriate design which we are already working on.
“The reason why I have come is to show them the problem. The people are coming to carry out the full study. This is not something like putting up PHCN or generator. You need to carry out proper study before you can start to address the problem. There is no overnight solution,” he noted.
The governor explained, “those who are doing the design, they already have an overview of the entire problem. When they finish the design the next thing is to look for the money.”
Oshiomhole disclosed that Edo State government has put aside five hundred Million naira, adding “we are expecting that the World Bank would also give the additional money.
“It is something that we are already working on and my visit today is not to come and see whether there is a problem. I have already seen the problem. I have only come to show the World Bank officials the extent of the gully erosion.”
Conducting the leader of the World Bank team, Mr Benoit Bosquet, who is also the Sector Manager, Environment, World Bank, in Washington, Oshiomhole said the resources required to fix the erosion is enormous.
According to him, “with your support and the proper design, all the details, we can find a lasting solution. You can see this school has given way. Right now we are relocating the people of this school to another school.
“We have also tried to talk with the federal government to draw from the ecological fund to deal with. Again that has not been successful. Our final hope now is the bank. We are hoping that you will help us out and have it fixed. A lot of communities down there, farmland, homes are all gone. But even more and more communities are affected. So the cost will keep
Responding, Benoit Bosquet said, “we understand that the engineering design for this site is at a very advanced stage.
He said, “we recommended that the environmental screening begin and also take the appropriate social and environmental measures to make sure that in addition to the engineering, the social and environmental issues are taken care of so that on that front issues are not made worse.
“Your environmental specialist is here and we would be studying the screening and as soon as the studies are done and the necessary plans put in place. When that is in place then the work begins. When the project is about to become effective it requires full effectiveness of both the state and federal government.
“Edo State is among the first runners, you are doing your bit. There are still a few steps to be taken. I am sure that soon, most of the state level actions would have been taken by ensuring the full management of the state which has the full compliments would be in place and the
effectiveness condition would be met very soon. In addition we expect that next week Edo would receive the first installment of the preparation advance and finally the cash will start flowing from Washington to Benin City.”