Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has challenged the Federal Ministry of Works to produce documents corroborating its claim of being responsible for the construction of the Five Junction roads and roundabout in Benin City.
The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolemenmen had consistently averred that the road is being constructed by the Federal Government.
The Governor who threw the challenge Wednesday while receiving members of the House of Representatives Committee on Works, led by its Chairman, Hon Ogbuefi Ora Ozombachi at the Government House in Benin City said since the State Government has the evidence of being responsible for the construction of the project and the Federal Government is also laying claims to it, then something must be wrong somewhere which would need to be investigated.
According to him, “this is an opportunity to clarify an area in which we have had an unnecessary controversy, the area we call the Five Junction, which is one of those areas which over the past 15 to 20 years has been known for flooding. They call it Five Junction because there are several adjoining streets not coordinated, and because there was no drainage, five minutes of rainfall was enough to block the area.
“It was constituting a serious nightmare to motorists and our people. We had discussions with our Ministry of Works and Environment, we felt that it was worthwhile to construct a roundabout there. But anything you do which does not take into account construction of drainage is a waste of money.
“For the layman, seeing asphalt shows you are working but for Engineers like you, you know that if there is no drainage, it is not going to last.So we have had to create a network of drainage systems there underground to cover it up, so that those driving will not know there is a drainage underground, and water is flowing to connect from one moat to another.
“It was a design that took some time to prepare and at the end, we awarded the contract to RCC which was already doing the expansion of Dawson, Urubi, Uselu roads and we also gave Hi-tec the opportunity to bid for the job and at the end RCC quotation was more competitive and we gave the job to them,” the governor noted.
Oshiomhole who showed the House Committee members the design and quotations by the contractor on the project said, “this explanation has become necessary to lay to rest the controversy surrounding the Five Junction. As you said this should not be reduced as my word against any other persons claim. I have asked the State Ministry of Works to bring me the design as well as the contract so that this issue is settled once and for all.
“If the Federal Ministry of Works insists that they constructed that road it means that they are claiming money for a job that they did not do and that will be fraud,” he added.
According to the governor, “Edo State Government has to redesign the drainages, widen it and deepen it and get the proper inverse so that when it rains the water flows out. As you know, construction of drainage is more expensive than spreading asphalt, laterite and stone base and that job is still ongoing, which we thought the federal government should be able to
reimburse us for the money spent.”
The state governor who listed a number of federal government roads in the state which the state government has worked on called on the Federal Ministry of Works to reimburse the state Government for work done on federal roads in the state. He also appealed to members of the House Committee on Works to visit the queen Ede gully erosion site to see the
extent of damage done by the Federal Government agencies while constructing the Benin – Asaba highway.
The Chairman of the House of Representative Committee on Works, Hon Ogbuefi Ozombachi said they were in the state to ensure that roads constructed by the federal government meet the required specification to ensure that Nigerians get value for their money.
The committee chairman listed road abuse, inadequate fund and compromise of specification and design as some of the remote and immediate causes of road deterioration in the country.
Also ,Edo State Government has set up an investigative panel in each of the eighteen local government areas of the state to take an of the audit schools, number of teachers in the schools, their qualifications and the total salaries and allowances paid to them.
Governor of the State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole disclosed this Wednesday when the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House. He said government’s decision is designed to get to the root of the current mismanagement at the primary schools with regards to teachers’ salaries.
According to the governor, “It was part of this search, I suspect that led to some people going to burn down the archives at the Ministry of Education.
“What we have been trying to do here is to try to find the courage to clean up the mess we inherited in Edo State and to see that we leave behind not just roads, schools and street lights and a school system that works but also institutionalised paperless government so that the level of manipulation can be minimised if not completely eradicated,” he noted.
“If there is one matter that has engaged my time and those of my lieutenants in government, it is trying to see through what is going on with regards to teachers salaries. Because the problem has been there for a very long time, those involve in it are so deeply entrenched in it,” he added.
On the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) strike, Oshiomhole said, “It is very unfortunate that the NUT chose to play to the gallery. For people like me there are advantages of my being here, we will not pursue anti-worker and anti-union policies. Edo State was the first state to pay 27.5 percent both for secondary and primary schools. I did so because I believe paying
teachers more will encourage teachers to go into teaching, then it is worth it, otherwise the job is not more tasking than any other job any other person is doing.”
The governor disclosed that, “what we are paying now is the result of a collective agreement between the NUT, the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) and Edo State government. You don’t go on strike when there is a subsisting agreement.”
He maintained that the 27.5% Teachers’ Special Allowance agreed with two unions shrunk to 17% because of the new minimum wage, arguing that if the NUT wants a review of the agreement, it must come to the negotiations table, but he will not be forced to an agreement with the union, if it fails to negotiate.
Comrade Oshiomhole said the government is stopping the teacher’s salary because the law is clear if you do not work you do not earn.
Oshiomhole said the government is trying to assist the local government how to improve on their internal generated revenue, because for me governance goes beyond going beyond Abuja to collect cheque and then distribute it and wait for the next thirty days.
“It is the responsibility of any government at any level to be able to
think, put on your thinking cap and find solutions to problems that confront you , therefore local governments must look inwards and see how they can generate revenue to complete what they receive from the federation account.”
Earlier, the state president of the Nigeria Union of local government employees, Comrade Young Ilemikhene commended the governor for his outstanding numerous achievements in the state.
He noted that the local government still remains the third tier government in Nigeria as contained in 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and it is necessary to recognize and respect its operational procedures in line with the existing laws as to enable it perform its constitutionally assigned roles.