THE build-up to the July 14, 2012 governorship polls in Edo State took a messier dimension at the weekend when Governor Adams Oshiomhole accused the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen of resorting to a verbal war over projects executed by the latter.
While Oshiomhole accused the minister of misleading the Federal Executive Council (FEC) into awarding a N2.6 billion contract for a non-existing road in Uromi, the minister said the governor was playing politics with a project that was initiated before he (Onolememen) came into office.
The governor made the charge when former Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Policy and Strate-gy, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, formally decamped to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
But in a reaction yesterday, Onolememen said he was shocked over the governor’s comments on Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhian Old Road, which FEC recently awarded the contract for its execution.
The minister said for the governor to accuse him of smuggling the project into the budget was the worst form of falsehood the chief executive of state can spread.
According to him, he expected Oshiomhole to be happy over infrastructural development in the state by Federal Government.
He said the Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhian road exists in Esan North East Local Government Area and transverses Uromi, Ugboha and Uzea communities in Edo State.
But for Governor Oshiomhole’s public display of ignorance of the Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhian road, having been governor of the State for about four years now, is unpardonable and speaks volumes of the character of his government. The Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhian road leads to Federal Technical College, Uromi, the Esan Water Works project being executed by Federal Government in Ugboha and the Hydrocarbon mineral deposit recently discovered by government in Uzea.
“Contrary to Governor Oshiomhole’s false claims that the contract for the Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhian road was ‘smuggled’ into the Federal Government Budget by the Honourable Minister of Works, we make bold to say that the said road project has been designed and introduced into the 2010 Federal Budget, and later, into the 2011 Federal Budget, long before Arc Mike Onolememen was appointed Honourable Minister of Works.”
But Oshiomhole said: “The godfather and the godson deceived FEC into awarding a N2.6 billion contract for a road construction that does not exist in Uromi,” adding that “they will be kept where they belong with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”.
In a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday in Lagos, the minister said the Ada-Okere-Ukoni-Amedokhian road project was not the one being executed by Federal Government in the state.
He listed the others as the reinstatement of the gully erosion disaster along Auchi-Okene Expressway (near Omega Fire Ministries by Jattu Junction) leading to Oshiomhole’s residence in Iyamo; the repair of the erosion damaged portion of Ayogwiri-Fugar Road in Ayogwiri. Onolememen said the two projects were located in Oshiomhole’s native Etsako West Local Council.
He hinted that, following a memo he initiated, the South Ibie Road, opposite Federal Polytechnic, Auchi also located in Oshiomhole’s Etsako West Local Council was being handled by the government. The minister said the project involved the construction of two bridges among others.
Onolememen said: “Even when Governor Oshiomhole continuously claimed credit for the rehabilitation of the Dawson-Iyaro-Uselu-Ugbowo section of the Benin-Ore-Shagamu Highway and other ongoing federal projects in the state for political gains, we did not consider it necessary to engage him because falsehood can never thrive in the state because the people are enlightened and well- informed about the rehabilitation programmes of the Federal Ministry of Works.”
Oshiomhole however said: “I am inviting President Goodluck Jonathan to kick off the construction of that road so he can see that it does not exist. Our President has been misled by a Minister of Works, who needs money to fund an election, but this time we will not keep quiet. They have been doing it for a long time.
Last year, they invited the Vice President (Namadi Sambo) to commission a water contract, but when the people of Uromi shouted that the contract was fraudulent and that they only pumped water into the overhead tank, the Vice President cancelled the commissioning.”
The governor further alleged that rather than campaigning and tell the people of the state their plans for the development of the state, “the PDP leaders in Edo Central and Edo North were busy buying voters’ cards.”
Onolememen insisted that Oshiomhole never rehabilitated any federal road in Benin City and elsewhere in the state.
“If indeed the governor was responsible for the rehabilitation of Dawson road section, which is part of the full rehabilitation works of Benin-Ore-Shagamu Expressway, why has he not asked for claims or refund from Federal Government for intervening in federal roads like other state governors are doing?”