Administrations of current Edo State State Governor, Godwin Obaseki and that of his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole are trading allegations over the non-operation of the Edo Specialist Hospital.
The Obaseki administration launched an inquiry commission into the inactive state of the hospital with the former Governor indicted in the findings of the inquiry commission.
According to findings from the commission, Oshiomhole was alleged to have breached the state’s procurement laws when he approved 75% of the total sum for the contract fee awarded to the company in charge of the construction and procurement of medical equipment for the hospital.
Chairman of the Commission, Justice James Oyomire (retd.), who presented the commission’s findings to Obaseki, said the award of the contract for the construction of the hospital was filled with breaches of the state’s procurement laws.
Oyomire said the procurement law categorically stated that any contractor working on a government project should receive no more than 25 per cent upfront payment upon contract award. He said the Oshiomhole administration contravened this in its dealings with the contracted company.
“The immediate past administration paid 75 per cent of the contract sum upfront for the project to Vamed Engineering.” He said part of the recommendations of the commission is that criminal and civil actions should be instituted against those found culpable in the awarding of the contract.
Obaseki in his reaction said it is painful to find the hospital under lock and key at this dire period , and vowed that whoever is found complicit in the reasons behind the inactivity of the hospital will be punished, irrespective of their societal standing.
Accusations & Counter Accusations
Some officials in the Oshiomhole Administration, including the former governor himself have denied any wrongdoing in their dealing with the contractors. They said they didn’t breach any public procurement law of the state in awarding the hospital’s contract to VAMED. In September 2019, Oshiomhole accused the Obaseki administration of not paying the remaining 25 percent of the total sum of the contract to the company. He said equipment were purchased and were put in the hospital, a claim the Obaseki administration has denied.
On Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today, officials of both administrations traded allegations in defence of their respective stance.
Kassim Afegbua, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation in the Oshiomhole Administration denied the allegations of breaching the state’s public procurement law as leveled by the commission of inquiry. He said everything done in the previous administration was done legally with the 75% upfront payment being a collective decision of the state Executive council at the time. He said Obaseki, the current governor of the state was a member of the Excos at the time. In his defence, he said the equipment paid for by the Oshiomhole Administration were delivered to the hospital on the 18th of September 2018, with the Obaseki administration writing a letter of commendation to the company afterwards. He added that Obaseki also sought the company’s technical support to help in the training of officials of the state’s hospitals on how to use the equipment. He described the allegation of the Obaseki administration as outlandish and untruthful.
Senior Special Assistant to Governor Obaseki on Public Affairs, Andrew Emwanta said the Oshiomhole administration never procured any equipment for the hospital but had withdrawn 75% of the contract sum, and had kept the money in a fixed deposit account in the name of one of the associates of Oshiomhole. He said the previous administration borrowed equipment to put in the hospital during the period of its commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari In 2018. When quizzed about the name of the providers of the equipment, he said it’s a company in Lagos whose name he won’t like to mention.
Afegbua countered when he said Obaseki may have launched an inquiry against himself also, as he was part of the decision making process in the awarding of the contract and was part of the agreement that said 75% of the total contract sum should be paid.
In his explanation, he said the governor of Edo State can not approve any contract that is beyond N100m, thereby making everyone involved in the decision making a party to the allegations, including Obaseki himself.
He said the current situation of the hospital is as a result of the ineptitude and unwillingness of the current administration to pay the 25% of the contract sum. In his argument, he said the hospital is not a specialist hospital as described by the current administration but was designed to be a central hospital in the state’s capital city.
He warned the SSA on Public Affairs against making libelous claims, saying such sacrosanct matters like health shouldn’t be tossed around in political tussles.
Emwanta accused the Oshiomhole administration of breaching the Public Procurement Law and said the former Governor will face the wrath of the law.