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Squandermaniac!

Posted by By CHRISTIAN ITA & BEIFOH OSEWELE on 2007/11/07 | Views: 671 |

Squandermaniac!


An insight has been provided into the alleged squandering of Edo State resources by the past administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion.According to the state governor, Senator Osareime Osunbor, the Solid Mineral Plant at Igbesi, for instance, was sold off by the Igbinedion government for just N50 million.

You sold Edo assets for peanuts, Osunbor tells

An insight has been provided into the alleged squandering of Edo State resources by the past administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion.According to the state governor, Senator Osareime Osunbor, the Solid Mineral Plant at Igbesi, for instance, was sold off by the Igbinedion government for just N50 million.

Ironically, the Igbinedion’s administration had claimed to have sunk hundreds of millions of Naira only few years ago to set up the industry.

Osunbor, who revealed how he took charge of a state in which the entire infrastructure and basic amenities had collapsed, said the state when handed over to him was crying for attention.

Not just that, he also inherited a huge debt burden, a situation that compelled his government to embark on a verification exercise of the state’s assets and liabilities.
Speaking in Lagos recently, Osunbor said the exercise had become imperative in view of the fact that his government is at a loss knowing which assets still belong to the government with so many of them having been sold off by the immediate past administration in the state.

He also alleged that some of the assets were sold at grossly under valued rates and cited the sale of the Solid Mineral Plant at Igbesi for N50 million as a case in point.
Former governor Lucky Igbinedion had claimed to have sunk hundreds of millions of Naira of state resources to resucitate it not long before leaving office.

But according to Osunbor, “many people believe that Edo State is blessed with many industries. But that is far from the truth. It may interest you to know that Edo State government no longer owns Ehor Fruit Juice Industry. It’s been sold out by the previous administration.

The solid mineral plant at Igbesi was also sold out for N50 million. The Chemical and Fertiliser plant at Auchi had almost been sold. It has now been slated for privatisation, but the place has been massively vandalised and that has stalled effort at going ahead with privatisation.”

Continuing, he said: “The Cassavita Plant in Uromi was about 90 per cent completed since 2005, but we have recently approved the release of about N99 million to ensure the completion of that plant. The situation in Bendel Brewery and Edo Line are quite critical and government is also considering what nature of intervention will be needed to salvage them.”

Asked about what his next line of action would be, the governor said he would await the outcome of the verification exercise, assuring, however, that due process would be followed even as he pledged that all assets sold through any under-hand deals would be recovered.

Unlawful disposal of government assets
“We are probing the disposal of state assets. What happens at the end of the verification is that the state government would constitute a panel to look at the report within the government. The recommendation emanating from the work of the committee will form the basis of a submission to the state Exco and after that, a white paper may emerge. Whatever happens will be based on the recommendation in the white paper. It may be that some of the options available may include the recovery of those properties that belong to the state government. It’s also open to decide to refer some of these matters for further investigations or prosecution, as the case may be. I cannot say what particular measure will be taken. But I’m telling you what option and how those things, administratively, are done. That is not to pre-empt the outcome of the exercise. I don’t want to do that. We do not intend to undo everything the previous government has done. It’s not possible to unwind the clock. Governance is a continuous exercise. But where in the process of investigation, we discover any under-hand deals, or fraud committed, expectedly, those transactions will not stay. And what was done wrongly will be righted, what belongs to the state will be given back to the state. So, I don’t want to pre-empt the work of the panel.”

Empowerment/skill acquisition
“The issue of skill acquisition and micro-credit are very critical to government developmental efforts. At the National Economic Council, also, the matter of micro-finance has been taken up and states have been enjoined to go and establish micro-finance institutions. My party has also taken it up as a national policy that all PDP controlled states and local government councils must implement. It’s necessary that young people are assisted with access to capital in order to be able to set up and run their business. So, we’d not just stop at training, we’d make funds available to assist people. It’s not just going to be limited to hairdressing, tailoring, and shoe making because we’re looking at maximising the competitive advantage we have in agriculture. We want to encourage our young people to take to agriculture. We have an office of Special Adviser for Farm development to really tackle this issue headlong and assist our young people to be able to go into agriculture. And we’d assist them.”

Contract awards
“We advertise contracts in the media for the public to submit bids. People have expressed surprise that this is the first time they are seeing this kind of transparency and due process through the publication of contracts for the award of projects. How we arrive at the roads to be done is actually a political judgement. There’s no mathematical formula in deciding which road to tar and which road not to tar. But the ultimate responsibility of government is to tar all the roads. However, it’s not possible to do everything all at once. So, we must prioritise. The bids have come in and the deadlines have closed. The Ministry of Works and Tenders Board would make recommendation, which we would take to the State Executive Council because the contracts values are beyond what the governor alone can just act on, unilaterally. So, it will require Exco approval. That’s the process we’re taking.”

Allocation
“Edo State gets a statutory allocation of about N2.3 billion from the federation account on the average every month. This thing fluctuates. For instance, there are many variables that affect it. And sometimes, deductions are made here and there, although the issue of direct deduction from the federation account allocation is something that the governors have been addressing with the presidency. I don’t think that so far, I have received more than N2.5 billion in any particular month. From internally generated revenue (IGR), we’ve been getting between N250-N300 million.”

Mass participation
“I have encouraged a lot of transparency. In fact, when I give out figures in the state, people really marvel that we can be that transparent as to reveal to the public how much is spent on salaries and so on. The wage bill on the payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities every month is about N1.150 billion on the average. So, that leaves us with only just a little above N1 billion to work with. These are facts, which are easily verifiable these days.

There’s nothing to hide. So, the people know exactly how much is coming in, have a fairly good idea of how the money is being used and they can easily be carried along. I have always encouraged mass participation in governance. Democracy entails that people must be part and parcel of the government and must be carried along. So far, I believe that the people of Edo State are beginning to identify with our mission of taking the state to greater height of excellence.”
April 14

“There’s no doubt at all in my mind and in the mind of many observers that I won that election. I won that election under the platform of the PDP. In that election, PDP won 16 seats in the House of Assembly and AC won 8. That election took place simultaneously as that of the governor.

I know that usually, voters vote for the same party, plus or minus say a margin of 5 per cent. If you’re voting PDP for the House of Assembly, you’re almost likely to be voting PDP in the governorship election. So, we can say that broadly speaking, even without looking at the details that the governorship election returned about two-third majority of the votes for the PDP governorship candidate in my person.

In the April 21 election, of course, PDP won the presidential election in Edo State, as well as all three senatorial and nine House of Reps seats. How anybody can say that any other party could have won the governorship election in that situation beats my imagination.

“Whereas the AC candidate took his matter to the tribunal, it’s unfortunate that Adams Oshiomhole will not allow the Tribunal to consider their evidence and give its judgement before they continue to say that the Tribunal will soon declare him the winner and he’d come and right the wrong things in the state. We’re refraining from making any such statements because we respect the integrity of the Tribunal and we’d want it to operate without any interference, threat or innuendo. There’s been a lot of negative propaganda and falsehood circulating about that election.”

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Comments (6)

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding