By Fidel Okpo
Reading through a recent press release attributed to Mr. Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser Media & Communication Strategy to Edo State Governor, where he insinuated that the delay in opening the doors of the 200 bed accident and emergency complex of the Central Hospital Benin for public use was occasioned by the poor structural work and instances of fraud in the procurement of equipment for the facility, one cannot help but be aroused to consternation. Naturally, I was inclined to ignore this unscrupulous line of argument emanating from the office of an adviser to the governor of Edo State as balderdash, primarily because, since assuming office, Crusoe Osagie has severally, through his thoughtless press releases shown that he lacks the analytical acumen and the journalistic rectitude to speak on behalf of a serious establishment, much less a government that is accountable to the people.
It is preposterous, an unpardonable act of professional laziness for a government spokesperson paid with tax payer’s money, to make pronouncements without recourse to diligent perusal of all documents relating to the issue for which he speaks on behalf of government. Agreed that Crusoe Osagie belongs to that infamous clique of Lagos boys, who neither contributed to the effort, nor have an idea of the circumstances, under Godwin Obaseki became governor of Edo State. He has no grasp of the essence of the campaign slogan of “Continuity” for which Godwin Obaseki was elected governor in 2016. As a usurper purposely recruited solely to prosecute a malicious agenda of demonizing and denigrating the leaders of Edo APC, he has absolutely no tolerance for anyone, including party leaders, who is not a praise singer of Governor Obaseki. He has personally sponsored many libelous newspaper articles against leaders of the party. The same leaders without whose individual and collective efforts, Godwin Obaseki would never be governor. How therefore can he understand that the imposing New Central Hospital edifice, was one of the selling points with which his principal was marketed and successfully sold to the Edo people by the same persons that are now being vilified as fraudulent characters?
Godwin Obaseki, as Chairman of the Economic Team was a member of the Edo State Executive Council that vetted and approved the contract for the 200 bed Accident & Emergency unit of the Central Hospital Benin City, before it was awarded to VAMED Engineering Nig. Ltd. Therefore, it is either he was sleeping and waking up to see the decisions taken by that Exco, or he is now retrospectively mischievous and vindictive to question the collect decisions taken by that Exco, with his assent.
Beyond his membership of the State Executive Council, Godwin Obaseki was also the chief economic advisor, personal friend and confidant of the governor. There is no way he can disassociate himself from the decisions, investments, successes and failures of that government. Being a major player and undeniably, the biggest beneficiary of the policies of the Oshiomhole government, he cannot morally deny responsibility for any perceived or real irregularities in the processes and award of the contract.
The real challenge before Governor Godwin Obaseki and his government therefore, is to come out and tell Edo people in specific terms what was paid for, in the contractual agreement signed by representatives of Edo State government under Comrade Oshiomhole and VAMED Engineering Nig. Ltd, the company that supplied the equipment. Then he should also tell Edo people all the items that were supplied and installed by the company before they handed over the complex to CIUCI Consulting, the company Edo State Government has appointed as the official operators of the hospital. Beyond that, the government must tell Edo people why a hospital unit, wholly built and fully equipped with tax payer’s money, is now being operated by a privately owned company
There is palpable absurdity in the threat by Crusoe Osagie that the “state government will investigate allegations of irregularities with the contract for the procurement of the hospital equipment” while at the same time claiming that ‘the commission would unravel why the equipment contracted were yet to be supplied”
Is Mr. Osagie claiming ignorance of the fact that the relevant authorities at the state Ministry of Health, under this very government where he is the official spokesperson, issued a “Goods Completion Certificate” which confirmed that the supplies and installations have been executed in accordance with the quantity, specifications and scope of the contract?
Did Mr. Osagie take the pains to go through the list of equipment, furniture and sundry items supplied and installed at the hospital, an inventory of which is archived in the State Ministry of Health, or is he merely issuing press releases to insinuate unfounded allegations of fraud in order to instigate uncomplimentary beer parlor discourse to cast a dark shadow on the magnificent 5 star Central Hospital complex built by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole?
Is Mr. Osagie not aware that the state Auditor General’s office has vetted the contract, did a physical inspection of the equipment supplied and installed, before issuing a certificate of compliance and adherence to the terms of the contract?
What further purpose will it serve therefore, if the state government sets up a probe panel to investigate a contract which the State House of Assembly had previously in November 2018 set up a panel to investigate and found not deficient in any aspect of agreement? Or is this merely a case of vindictiveness and witch hunt of perceived political enemies?
Is it not curious that the government of Godwin Obaseki intentionally refused to open the gates of this hospital complex for three years even after it had been equipped with the necessary medical gadgets and furnishings? Why is it now that the hospital is finally open to the public and Edo people are expressing their sincere gratitude to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for bequeathing on the state such a magnificent edifice, that the government is struggling to cry blue murder with baseless allegations of irregularities in the award of the contract.
While it is sad and unfortunate that Governor Obaseki and his team of media wannabes struggle so hard to justify his dishonorable act of ungratefulness to those who sacrificed so much to make him governor, it is repugnant and reprehensible for the government to deny all the physical evidence before our very eyes, and resort to merchandizing falsehood about the legacy of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State. A Legacy of performance, which by all indication, Godwin Obaseki cannot equal even if the constitution of the Federal Republic were to allow him occupy Osadebe Avenue for 16 years as Governor.
Whatever the motive for these latter day allegations and threats of probe panel, one thing cannot be denied; Comrade Adams Oshiomhole true to his promise, built, equipped and commissioned a world class medical facility, first of its kind in Edo State. What Edo people deserve now, is the full utilization of the 200 Bed Accident & Emergency Complex of Central Hospital, not a probe panel that, when objectively pursued, will definitely lead to nothing unethical in the award and execution of the contract.
Mr. Fidel Okpo
Benin City, Nigeria.