From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The controversy over the N30 billion Benin Water Storm Project has attracted response from the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba, who accused the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, of peddling falsehood with the project to mislead Edo people.
Recall that governor Obaseki had while inspecting the project threatened to probe his predecessor, alleging that it was conceived to defraud the state.
The governor particularly fingered Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Agba who supervised the project as the then Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability in the state.
But Agba in his response to Obaseki contained in a three-page letter said he was taken aback by the N30 billion that the governor peddled as expenditure on the project.
“I dare say without any fear of contradiction, that this is not only false, but also outlandishly erroneous, misleading and patently mischievous.
“As the then chairman of the Edo State Economic Team, you were privy to the conception, planning, execution and expenditure on the project”, the minister told Obaseki.
He said the governor could not claim not to know that only the sum of N22 billion had been paid to the contractor for 70 per cent of the project delivered before he took over as governor in November 2016.
“By virtue of a resolution by the State Executive Council, the Commissioner for Finance was mandated to make payments directly to contractors for all projects of the government.
“I was, therefore, surprised at your decision to call me out on the expenditure of N30 billion on the Benin storm water project, knowing full well that I neither expended such money, nor did I have any mandate to authorise payments as the funds were not domiciled in the Ministry of Environment.
“This project was conceived as a legacy of our state government, a memorable one to the Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa and drew the admiration of our sustainable development-oriented President,” Agba said.