By Chris Ochayi
The Federal Government weekend gave reasons it was opposed to Ugbowo- Uselu road contract awarded by Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, noting that the governor failed to obtained approval before embarking on the project.
Minister of State for Works, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, who made the explanation while reacting to an alleged remarks by Governor Oshiomhole on the issue, said the state government contravened the standing policy of the Ministry of Works regarding the award of contracts for federal highways by state governments.
The policy, according to Ogiemwonyi, “is hinged on the fact that before commencement of work on each project on federal roads, approval must be sought and obtained from the ministry and each project must be carried out in compliance with the ministry’s specification and standard.
The statement issued by the minister read: “The attention of the Federal Ministry of Works has been drawn to the statement credited to Governor Adams Oshiomole in respect of Ugbowo-Uselu road wherein he reportedly criticised the Minister of State for Works over an alleged termination of the contract for the said road.
“It has become necessary for the ministry to state the facts of the case so that an issue that concerns the welfare and wellbeing of ordinary Nigerians is not unduly politicised just for the purpose of gaining undue publicity.”
“It is on record that the federal Government has put in place a policy that encourages state governments to undertake repairs/reconstruction of roads within their jurisdiction in the effort to strengthen and sustain infrastructural development across the country.
“It is also on record that many state governments across the nation have taken advantage of this policy and are working in close collaboration with the ministry in the endeavor to improve our road network.
“However, this policy is hinged on the fact that before commencement of work on each project on federal roads, approval must be sought and obtained from the ministry and each project must be carried out in compliance with the ministry’s specification and standard.
“It is in the light of the above that the Hon. Minister of State for works, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi only reiterated an existing government policy. It is therefore unexpected that an issue meant to strengthen an existing government policy could be given so many interpretations that defy simple logic.
“Since Public Private Partnership is a policy of government, it would appear contradictory to discourage any authority or MDA from implementing projects that would enhance the quality of life of the citizenry.
“In a similar vein, it is necessary to remind the general public that the Benin_ Ore_ Ofosu road is an ongoing federal project which was awarded in 2009 and due for completion in 2011. No doubt the intensity of the rain this year to a large extent, delayed the completion of the project. It is however expected that with the onset of the dry_ season the project will be completed speedily. While this is ongoing, palliative measures are being undertaken vis_à_vis failed portions of the road to ensure smooth and safe driving to all and sundry during the yuletide. It is therefore untrue that the road project has been cancelled or awarded to a local contractor.
“ Finally, all tiers of government in the federation are encouraged to continue pursuing citizen_ centered projects and the Jonathan administration is determined to strengthen and consolidate on this collaborative effort between the three tiers of government in the country.”