How Oshiomhole squandered over N1 trillion in almost eight years
By Solomon Ibharuneafe
Adams Oshiomhole the outgoing Executive Governor of Edo State really has a story to tell Edo people. And that is to explain to them how he squandered the over One Trillion Naira from the Federation Account and the internally generated Revenue on behalf of the people in his seven and half years when he held sway as Governor of the State.
Making the exposure of the governor’s reckless spending recently is Pastor Osagie ize-Iyamu a Lawyer, farmer, politician and a governorship aspirant on the platform of the PDP. He spoke at a Town Hall meeting in Benin organized by the House to House support initiative, a socio-political pressure group. Ize-Iyamu said that Edo State received over a trillion naira as revenue from the federation Account and Internally generated Revenue (IGR) but lamented that this huge revenue had unfortunately not been used to grow the economic base of the state but squandered on highly inflated projects that were not evenly distributed across the state. According to the politician who is also a man of the gospel, this money was restricted to one or two sectors to the detriment of the critical areas. He said the twin evil of poverty and unemployment were not tackled while sectors like Agriculture, industry, Tourism, Sports, Housing and Solid minerals were ignored. Ize-Iyamu chastised the Governor for allowing Bendel Brewery, Edo Line, Edo Courier, Edo Hotel and Bendel Insurance to collapse.
A government that chooses deliberately to ignore industry, Agriculture, Tourism, Sports, Solid minerals cannot be seriously concerned about the economy of her state, he said. He said the State Government made serious efforts at increasing the internally generated revenue of the state from N300million monthly to N2billion, a feat he said was commendable. But this increase he added brought with it pains and losses because of the arbitrary and punitive mode of assessment and collections. “Edo people who can barely survive and infact need welfare packages are forced to pay taxes and levies beyond their incomes”, adding that companies have closed, shops and have left the state as a result of constant harassment by the touts operating as officials and agents of government.
The erudite scholar revealed that vehicle owners now prefer to register their vehicles in nearby state like Delta due to high fees, stringent conditions and corrupt practices thereby enriching Delta a neigbouring state at the detriment of Edo State. He also punctured the ongoing application for certificates of occupancy needed for land documentation, loans and business transactions which have been abandoned by their owners because of the prohibitive charges that government had imposed on their acquisition “consequently government is loosing revenue and businesses are aborted because of this impasse” he said, explaining further that though taxes are important but the methodology of assessment and collection must be well thought out, When taxes are reasonable compliance becomes easier, he added..
Ize-Iyamu said when economy of a state is good, tax revenue becomes high. He pointed out that the Oshiomhole government did nothing tangible to assist, stimulate or improve the business environment, noting that government as the highest spender, ought to patronize local businesses or contractors but instead the Edo government under Oshiomhole preferred patronizing outsiders thereby encouraging capital flight and making the state unattractive for local entrepreneurs. Citing examples with the supply of furniture to schools across the state, he said one would have thought that Edo furniture makers reputed for their workmanship would have a field day providing these furniture but were denied as the entire contract was given to an Abuja company. Again, when Edo state government organizes events and receptions and they need to contract a caterer to provide refreshments, they do not patronize local caterers but rather pay millions to a company in Lagos to cook and serve. How can these people pay tax when their state government does not patronize them, he queried.
Ize-Iyamu condemned in strong term the increase in workers wages from N18, 000 to N25, 000 at the twinlight of the tenure without prior negotiation with the workers union. This gesture can only be a “Greek Gift” meant to deceive and win votes in the forthcoming gubernatorial election. We however believe that workers deserve fair wages and conditions of service, he said.
In what looks like an economic blueprint for the state, Pastor Ize-Iyamu chronicled some areas the state could improve the economy to bring her out of the current quagmire.
These include lowering the taxes and widening of the net, building of roads leading to high density areas, industrial estates, agricultural hubs and key markets, financing small businesses through partnering with financial institutions, setting up of a trade commission to be saddled with the responsibility of engaging with international agencies on rural urbanization projects and driving cross border investment into the state. Others include giving priority to the provision of pipe borne water to tie into agriculture for food and healthcare, transparency in the registration of companies and doing business in Edo State, reasonable cost of land transactions and prompt documentation to encourage people to invest for longterm, adoption of fiscal discipline to discourage waste of funds derived externally or internally, training of civil servants to help government organize its economic plan towards achieving optimum result, among others.
The lecture with the theme, Edo State Economy: The way out touched on Agriculture, Education, Land and Housing, critical infrastructure, sports Edo in diaspora, entertainment industry, tourism existing industries, solid minerals, power and security. In his final submission, Ize-Iyamu said definitely the state in the face of grossly inadequate allocations from the federation account can find its way out of its present undesirable economic state. He said the thing to do is to look inward to develop its natural economic factors, focus on priorities while avoiding waste.
The House to House Support Initiative as a non-government organization is charged with the sole responsibility of ensuring a balance between the general public and those in authority. It has its head office in Abuja and duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.