Reps member, minister tango over projects

The lawmaker representing Etsako Federal Constituency of Edo State in the House of Representatives, Mr Johnson Oghuma, and the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba, on Tuesday, locked horns over some projects, especially roads, executed in their Etsako constituency.

While the House of Representatives member raised an alarm that the rural roads in Etsako East Local Government Area of the state he executed as constituency projects were the ones he was claiming as his (Agba’s) projects, the minister on his part put a lie to the claim, saying that the lawmaker had no such things as constituency projects in the area.

Oghuma, to drum home his claims over the projects, listed the rural roads in contention to include the roads linking five communities of Iviukhua, Iviebua, Iviegbepui, Ivianokpodi and Ivoghe, adding, however, that works were ongoing at Ogbona-Ekperi road in Etsako Central, Okugbe-Imiekuri road in Etsako East through NDDC.

Other projects listed by him are Aviele-Iyakpi rural access road and the rehabilitation of Iviakpi to Aviele Ekhie Girls Road popularly known as Campus 2 road in Etsako West council area.

According to the two-term member of the Green Chamber, the projects were those he influenced into the 2020 budget, adding that the roads were particularly chosen for construction because of the years of abandonment the communities had suffered.

Oghuma said that the areas being pastoral communities, the people find it difficult to evacuate their farm produce to the markets because of bad roads. He noted that aside from increasing the income of inhabitants of those communities, the roads would also reduce post-harvest losses suffered by the farmers.

The lawmaker added that the construction of 13.5 km rural roads in the area would bring down the cost of transportation by 30 per cent.

But Agba, in a statement endorsed by Sufuyan Ojeifo, Special Assistant (Media) to Minister, said he found it an “Inexplicable plot, a member of the Federal House of Representatives, representing Etsako Federal Constituency, Hon. Johnson Oghuma seeks to alter the narrative of the Federal Government’s allocated N34 billion for the construction of rural roads under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).”

According to the minister, “the ESP is a direct and proactive response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the plan has been designed to check post-harvest losses, among other negative impacts.”

“At the instance of Mr President, the Federal Government had, in the light of the ravaging pandemic, approved the construction of 377 rural roads in 266 communities nationwide, along the agro-corridors, which the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, is inspecting in line with the requirements of the National Monitoring and Evaluation (NM&E) mandate of his ministry. This inspection and evaluation process is not exclusive to Edo State,” Agba further explained.

“The Iviukhua, Iviebua, Iviegbepui, Ivianokpodi and Ivoghe rural road networks, which Oghuma mentioned in his skewed narrative, are not constituency projects,” the minister insisted.

The statement added that the minister had already inspected the construction works on the affected roads in Edo State to assess the progress achieved.

“He also inspected the progress of construction works on a number of other roads in Imo State (3.5km asphaltic rural road project in Umucheke, Okwe in Onuimo Local Government Area) and Enugu State (7.5km Nsukka-Lejja-Igbo-Etiti road).”

“Claims by Oghuma that Agba is appropriating his projects are therefore disingenuous as there are no constituency projects in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), which is an exclusive initiative of Mr President.

“It is important that as leaders, we endeavour to do our homework before making public statements; otherwise we run the risk of self-contradictions and also making statements that are both false and misleading,” Agba counselled.

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Reps member, minister tango over projects

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