BANJI ALUKO brings details of the storm stirred by the public presentation of a new book Breach of Trust, in Benin City, Edo State.
It appears the ripples created last Sunday by the presentation of a book written by Orobosa Omo-Ojo will not go down easily. The book entitled Breach Of Trust is Omo-Ojo’s account of political events in Edo State before and under the watch of Adams Oshiomhole, who has supervised the affairs of the South South state in about seven and half years.
In his remark during the presentation of the book, held at the Akin-deko Hall of the University of Benin, Omo-Ojo flaunted the credentials that made him one of the best persons to write about the headship of the Edo state by Oshiomhole. He recalled that he was Oshiomhole’s former commissioner for Oil and Gas, and later headed the Ministry of Transportation as commissioner. That was not all. Omo-Ojo was also a journalist and publisher of now defunct Midwest Herald, a magazine that was popular in the state some years ago. He also described himself as a political activist.
Apparently, Omo-Ojo must have understood that he would be opening a can of worms with the presentation of his book. The former commissioner, who lost in his bid to fly the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Ovia Federal Constituency seat in 2015, started with his removal from office in January this year by Governor Oshiomhole. He alleged that he was removed because he refused to divulge details of his meetings with some perceived enemies of Governor Oshiomhole.
In the book, Omo-Ojo urged the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to investigate the N14 billion spent to design website for the Edo Open Portal project. He Ojo said it would be a cruel fate to Edo people if the EFCC failed to investigate the Open Portal project and others in the Edo ICT project, including biometrics, oracle, internet provision for Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).
He also alleged that the open portal was arrant deception, designed as a cover-up for the growing criticism of lack of transparency in government operation and a means to justify the $225 million World Bank loan which was equivalent to N50billion. The former commissioner alleged that Oshiomhole spent lost N500m to pursue vice president ambition and perportedly granted Certificate of Occupancy waiver to Alhaji Aliko Dangote worth N1.08billion for the establishment of a fertilizer plant.
Omo – Ojo said Oshiomhole failed to develop sound political ideology which made the APC lose popularity in the state. He likened the Oshiomhole administration to a mob government, where every one contributes to the affairs of the state without a clear direction of government policy. He said, “Working with Oshiomhole is like watching a circus show. There is never a boring moment. Either he amuses you with sheer energy to talk unending or you are amazed at his self-delusion as he speaks on every subject like an authority. The only way to reduce priceless time wasting during meetings is to allow a monologue. This practice led to poor project execution.”
Despite his mind-blowing revelation, he did not receive the greatest applause that day. That honour went to the Peoples Democratic Party PDP) governorship candidate in the Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who was given enough time to make remarks about the government of Oshiomhole. He started by asking the governor to refund the huge amount of money allegedlly collected from former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Governor Lucky Igbinedion, since he is now talking about refunding the N700 million Jonathan gave to Edo PDP during the 2015 presidential election.
While defending the money Edo PDP received from Jonathan during the 2015 general election, Ize-Iyamu said he had explained to the (EFCC) that he never benefited from the N700 million given to the state PDP, saying the record on how the fund was disbursed is already with the EFCC. He described Oshiomhole’s action as hypocritical, and alleged that he was also a benefactor of such fund in the past.
According to the PDP candidate, ‘’Now that Oshiomhole is talking about refunding the money former President Goodluck Jonathan gave to Edo State PDP — during the presidential election, he should also refund the billions of naira he collected from Jonathan in 2012 during the presidential election. Oshiomhole collected the money from Jonathan and worked against his then party, Action Congress of Nigeria in that election. He betrayed his party.
‘’He should also refund over a billion naira the former governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, gave to him during the 2007 governorship election in Edo State. It a well-known fact that it was Chief Igbinedion who brought him into ACN and gave him money he used for the election.’’
ze-Iyamu added that Oshiomhole and his ‘’puppet governorship candidate’’ in the September 10 election, Godwin Obasekei, could no longer be trusted by Edo people because they had betrayed everybody who helped them into offices in the past.
‘’Look around Oshiomhole, everybody who worked for him in the past have deserted him, because he betrayed them. He has betrayed teachers, judiciary workers, Okada riders, market women, political associates and Edo people in general. He can never be trusted again,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Prince Kassim Afegbua, has described the account given in “Breach of Trust” as tissues of lies assembled to feed members of the unsuspecting public. He said the book was not only a product of poor scholarship with bad syntax, but dominated with tautology, half-truths, outright lies and fictions aimed at fulfilling the agenda of his paymasters.
He alleged; “Fact is, Orobosa Omo-Ojo was sacked for gross incompetence and corrupt practices, which essentially became visible when he took over the Ministry of Transport. He engaged all manner of persons into the state’s Traffic Management Agency who ended up giving the state government a bad image, following their indiscriminate arrest and harassment of motorists and road users, and extorting money from them to meet the target set by the Commissioner.
“Again, the fact that the former Commissioner admitted he was sacked for failure to divulge details of his discussions with chieftains of opposition party tellingly gave away his dual personality. It would be appropriate to call him a mole in government; and for those who understand the devilish and destructive attributes of moles, it would be dangerous and counter-productive to continue to keep such a Commissioner who was under oath in office. Why did he wait until he was sacked before rushing to press to publish such a watery and badly written book laced with several incongruities and bad syntax?
“There are several other allegations he made in the said book, which we will require him to prove beyond reasonable doubt. On the alleged N14 billion expended on the Edo State website and open portal, nothing speaks of the mental delusion of this ex-Commissioner than this. How can any reasonable person, with mental alertness, make such a bogus allegation? Does that not sound like dubious tales from the moonlight? We are not only proud of our trail-blazing initiative with respect to e-governance; we are satisfied with the achievements we have recorded in that sector to promote transparency, accountability and probity in governance.”