About N140 billion was spent on the Second Niger Bridge by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole has disclosed.
Oshiomhole claimed that the sum of $700 million was surreptitiously withdrawn from the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) for the bridge project which has not progressed beyond foundation stage. “They told our committee that about $700m dollars were taken from the Sovereign Wealth Fund for the Second Niger Bridge project”, the comrade governor claimed in a statement released through his Chief Press Secretary, Peter Okhiria, on Monday.
According to the statement, the former labour leader also urged the former Works Minister, Mike Onolememen, to provide suitable explanation over the controversial withdrawal from the SWF on the project rather than attacking him.
“Rather than crucify Comrade Oshiomhole for the disclosure, former Minister of Works should direct his energy and explanation to the managers of the Sovereign Wealth Fund who have depleted the savings on the explanation that it was meant for the 2nd Niger Bridge.”
The statement read further: “Fully aware that not much has been achieved on that project, Onolememen and the managers of the Sovereign Wealth Fund should explain to Nigerians what really transpired instead of asking Comrade Oshiomhole to apologise to Nigerians.
“The real people, who should apologise to Nigerians for their many sins against the country are those who expended so much of our resources without any corresponding achievements to show for it.”
According to Oshiomhole, any right thinking Nigerian should be ashamed of the state of Nigerian roads, especially with the enormous resources budgeted for road rehabilitation and construction.
The governor regretted that rather than build new roads and rehabilitate them, the Ministry of Works under the former minister vandalised existing roads and made them almost impassable.
The governor said: “In Edo State, the Aduwawa end of the Benin-Auchi Road is almost impassable, especially during this rainy season. As we speak, erosion has cut off the Benin-Auchi road into two and motorists are going through hell passing through that road.
“What about Benin-Abraka Road; it is one hell of a road completely abandoned and vandalized. In the name of politics, they came trying to impress Edo people, but ended up depressing all of us.
“When we complained of utter neglect of Edo State in the scheme of things, they hurriedly brought caterpillars to site and vandalized the roads, pretending to be working.
“If you visit Federal Government roads today in Edo State, you will weep for Edo people. People should find time to pass through Uromi-Agbor road, a major highway connecting the eastern part of the country. It is an eye-sore, yet we had a Minister of Works who hails from Uromi.
“Former Minister Onolememen should explain to Nigerians how he expended the billions of naira that were budgeted for the Ministry of Works because what we have on ground as a product of such expenditure cannot score for any pass mark.
“Roads from Oyo to Ilorin, Ilorin to Jebba and Bida, from Ore to Ijebu-Ode, from Ikom to Calabar, Onitsha to Enugu are amongst the several roads that explain the sad commentary on the state of Nigerian roads.
“Aside from being death traps, they represent in graphic terms, the poor performance of the last regime in terms of road construction and rehabilitation. Rather than hide his head in shame, Onolemhemen is still oozing out diatribe against Nigerians. We deserve explanation and no amount of blackmail can stop us from speaking out about the fate of our country.”
By Olisemeka Obeche