Leaders in Edo State rise against each other over an alleged breach of the state’s Public Procurement Law as Andrew Emwanta, the Senior Special Adviser on Public Affairs to the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, slams the immediate past governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole.
Obaseki alleged that the former governor paid 75% upfront for the construction of the Edo Specialist Hospital, when he was in office, instead of the 25% approved thereby breaching Section 47 of the Procurement Law.
Emwanta also noted that while that sum was paid, no equipment was actually delivered to the state during the time frame.
Speaking further, the SSA alleged that when President Buhari came to commission the hospital towards the end of Oshiomhole’s tenure, the equipment that were in the hospital were all hired from Lagos and returned upon completion of the commissioning after which, the hospital was placed under lock and key.
“So when I hear the former governor talk about how the place was locked, he himself, locked the hospital. Emwata said.
“When the (new) governor came, the hospital was opened and we discovered that there were no equipment because when they hired these equipment from Lagos, before Oshiomhole left the government, they returned them and there is no way the government can conceal such a public trust because health is at the core of every government policy,”
Kassim Afegbua, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a former commissioner in Edo State under the Oshiomhole administration however defended the former governor’s actions in regards to the upfront payment of 75% for the construction of the Edo Specialist Hospital.
“So what we did as an EXCO, a body for which Governor Obaseki was part and parcel, was not out of place,” he said.
According to him, in view of the fact that the equipment were state-of-the-art items, it was agreed upon at the time, to pay 75% upfront, “so that the company would not default in terms of manufacturing the equipment”.
“These are not items you can buy across the counter. They are items that have to be manufactured to suit specifications” Afegbua said.
He further explained that Section 47 of the procurement law had some exceptions which include that “in the event that you are going to pay more than 25%, there has to be a written request from the company, there has to be a bank guarantee and or, an insurance bond to ensure that when you pay such amount of money, the contractor will not run away from site.
“Obaseki was also was one of those who adviced that it would be better for us to have a 75% advance payment so that we can meet the fluctuations that were imminently going to happen as a result of our Naira devaluation,” he said.
“The same government on September 18, 2018, wrote a letter of commendation to Vamed (the Contractors) for having fulfilled the terms of contract of supply of equipment to that hospital.
“For you to now set up a commission of enquiry indicting us, means that Obaseki is also indicted so if he wants to try us, he should also remove his immunity and join us in the dock so that we can be tried together”. Afegbua said.
Meanwhile, after a briefing by the Judicial Commission of inquiry with the governor earlier in the week, he (Obaseki) gave an assurance that anyone found culpable, no matter how highly-placed, will be called to account for their action.
“We have been putting the right measures in place and if there are resources of government that need to be returned back, we will not hesitate to ask for it,” he said.
“Since I came into office, you can’t find this type of breach that you have mentioned. If people have to face prosecution, whether civil or criminal, they will have to be prosecuted”. Obaseki Said.