Edo State Government has denied receipt of any money from the Ecological Fund to tackle the erosion menace ravaging Auchi in Edo North and Queen Ede in Edo South.
In a statement issued by the Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs to the Governor, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the Government said those peddling the rumour only did so out of ignorance and mischief.
Afegbua said: “Our attention has been drawn to a news report by the trio of His Royal Highness, Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Haliru Momoh, Ikelebe 111, Hon. Zakawanu Garuba and Hon. Abdulrazak Momoh to the effect that the Edo State Government had received and spent ecological funds granted to the State without a kobo spent on the Auchi Erosion menace. As a responsible government, we would have ignored this outright ignorance and falsehood but for the person of our highly respected and learned traditional ruler; we decided to offer this clarification which is meant to educate the minds of undiscerning members of the public with respect to the Auchi Erosion menace.
“If truth be told, there is no money by way of grants or subvention that has been given to the State Government with respect to erosion or ecological issues since the inception of the Oshiomhole-led administration. The PDP-led Federal Government under the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, is the sole custodian of the nation’s ecological fund which is usually granted to States once certain requirements are met. It might interest the public to note that since the inception of the Oshiomhole administration, the State has not received a kobo from the Ecological fund. Given the Comrade Governor’s prudent management of resources, he would not have hesitated to deploy the funds if it had been granted by the relevant authority.
“Edo State was declared “effective” as at September 16, 2013 following the needs assessment sent to the Federal Government by the State Government concerning the Ekenhuan and Queen Ede Gully Erosion assessment in Edo South. That of the Auchi Erosion site is being delayed by the Auchi Community over their non-constitution of a Site Specific Committee which is a requirement to attract this fund. By convention, Communities are supposed to register into the project, and the Comrade Governor granted free registration to all the affected communities, but that of Auchi Community, till date has not reached the State Government. It will be utterly wrong therefore for anyone to accuse the State Government of negligence or fund diversion with respect to ecological funds that have not been granted the State. If anything, the delay in getting the release of the funds from the Federal Government is due primarily to the deliberate negligence of members of the Auchi Community which ought to have completed its composition of Site Specific Committee to hasten up the processes of attracting this needed fund.
“Flowing from the foregoing, we find it utterly nauseating that persons who ought to know, given the caliber of those who spoke to the press, and have access to get the right information from the government with just a phone call, have jumped to the public space to make spurious and bogus allegations that expose their ignorance and attempt at mischief on the matter. We are pained that His Royal Highness, the Otaru of Auchi, whom we hold in high esteem, could be dragged into this matter. We are aware that the Otaru of Auchi has unfettered access to the Comrade Governor to seek clarifications on any issue which he finds befuddling.
“We are amused by the antics of the other politicians who want to worm their way into the hearts of the electorate who rejected them at the polls, by spreading utter falsehood. Spreading lies on such matter which affects the local people no doubt offends the rules of political engagement.
“It does not remove any credit from individual to seek explanation on issues before going public to expose their ignorance. The public is assured that once the State is able to attract this much needed fund from the Federal Government, it will be deployed for the purpose for which it was meant. We have a commitment to take Edo State to the next level, and we will not renege on that commitment.”