WHO IS STEALING BY SIGN POSTS?
IN the words of Othman Dan Fodio, conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it. The take away from this axiom is that evil strives in societies where people lack the courage to tell and defend the truth. What is playing out with the above captioned article concerning the unfortunate attack on the Federal Government's recent efforts at ensuring its roads in Edo State are rehabilitated is reminiscent of a jig saw between truth and falsehood.
There is no doubt that the Federal Government, through its Ministry of Works, awarded the rehabilitation of its road, stretching from Dawson through Iyaro via Ugbowo to Sagamu. Of particular interest is the section within Benin City where the Edo State Government has tried to mislead the populace to the contrary. People are well aware that the Edo State Government awarded the contract for the drainage and walk-ways on the sides of the road. This does not, however, mean that the Edo State Government is responsible for the massive rehabilitation of the Federal Road stretching from Dawson-Iyaro-Uselu-Ugbowo down to Sagamu.
In an effort to mislead the good people of Edo State, the State Governor visited the site where the Contractor is working, and ordered the immediate removal of the sign-posts that indicated Federal Ministry of Works [FGN] as the Client. These sign posts were no doubt installed on the right of way of the road which is under the control of the Federal Ministry of Works; yet the Governor gave his vexed instruction all in his efforts at creating an impression that Edo State Government was rehabilitating/reconstructing the road under review.
In his characteristic manner, that visit was an opportunity to sound provocative to the admiration of his 'followers'. Meanwhile, the same State Government installed sign-posts in other locations on the stretch of federal roads within the City that the people of the State and other motorists should bear with the State Government over the deplorable nature of the road. What is therefore the difference between the Dawson-Iyaro Section and Uselu-Ugbowo Section on the same stretch of road?
One man that should give an answer to the above question is Josef Omorotionmwan who at his age should be courageous enough to stand and defend the truth rather than wallow in untruths and allow political influence and other interests assuage his position on infrastructural development in Edo State.
It is obvious that Josef Omorotionmwan did not allow conscience to guide his view point as published in Vanguard of December 29, 2011 with the above title. Of particular concern was his desperation to be a foot soldier for the Governor of Edo State. It is laughable to read that 'under the cover of darkness, mercenaries of the Federal Government agency must return to Edo State to plant FG signboards on big road projects where the State Government is currently working'. The good people of Edo State cannot be deceived by anybody, not even with any form of falsehood. There is a huge difference between contract for the road rehabilitation/reconstruction of 'big road projects' and 'drainage and walkways'. Why would the State Governor award his contract to the same Contractor the Federal Ministry of Works had earlier awarded the road rehabilitation contract?
Whereas some other State Governors are actively collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Works for the speedy road infrastructure development in their States, the position of Edo State Governor is truly retrogressive and could have adversely affected the smooth execution of the federal road rehabilitation works, but for the maturity displayed by the young and energetic Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen. There is a subsisting Federal Government guideline for any State Government willing to embark on rehabilitation or reconstruction of any Federal Road in their State, and it is doubtful if the Governor has observed the rules of the game before he awarded the contract for the drainage and walkways on the right of way of the federal ministry of works (FGN) in Edo State.
The Governor should realise that there is a difference between governance and activism and as such, should not play politics with the Federal Government's determination to rehabilitate its road within Benin City. The records on the Ownership question [Dawson-Iyaro-Uselu-Ugbowo to Ofosu/Ore and then to Sagamu]; the contract documents for the ongoing rehabilitation works and that of the drainage/walkways on the sides of the road, are there for Josef Omorotionmwan and other apologetics of the governor to verify. For instance, I am aware that the Edo State Government awarded the reconstruction of the Airport Road in 2009 at a contract sum that have continued to attract comments, and the Federal Government cannot lay claim to the ongoing construction of that road.
Josef Omorotionmwan was again beclouded with political sentiment as he despicably submitted against the reality by failing to appreciate the ongoing works on Benin-Ore highway which have continued to receive commendation from motorists. It is true that former Ministers did not only disappoint in fixing the road in the past, but the incumbent Minister, Arc. Mike Onolememen, during his maiden visit to the section of the road promised Nigerians that he will ensure the road was motorable before the Yuletide. The Honourable Minister fulfilled the pledge he made to motorists on that route as attested to by many during the yuletide, and it now takes about four hours from Benin to Lagos against the ugly situation of the past when it took travellers almost two days due to the very bad nature of the Ore axis of the road. Besides, there are a lot of rehabilitation works going on between Ugbowo and Dawson areas of the road. It is therefore incorrect to assert by Josef Omorotionmwan that the Federal Government is an absentee landlord who has ignored or neglected its roads in Edo State.
It would appear that Governor Oshiomhole has realised that attacks on the 'godfathers' has become an obsolete agenda as he has severally by his actions shown that he is also a godfather in the politics of Edo State. He should learn from his counterparts in some States of the Federation on how to collaborate with the Federal Government for the infrastructural development of Edo State.
Rather than exerting energy on attacks of leaders and officials of the Federal Government ostensibly because he wants to win the next governorship elections, he should realise that there is more to life beyond being an Executive Governor of Edo State.
Mr. ALIYU JATTU, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Agbede, Edo State.