April 17, 2024

Tangle Over Edo Missing Subsidy Palliatives: Govt Replies Senator, “We Spent N110m on Diesel”, Stop Cooking Up Figures – Okpebholo

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Senator Okpebholo

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By Reporter

The Edo State Government has said it spent N110m on diesel in three months for the ‘free transport scheme’ across the State to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government on the people of Edo State.

In a statement, the Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, urged members of the public to disregard the “falsehood peddled by Senator Monday Okpebholo, who represents the people of Edo Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, on the transport scheme, which has benefitted over 1.5m Edo residents in its first phase.”

Gov Godwin Obaseki

According to Nehikhare, “The Edo State Government has spent N110, 509,230 in the last three months on the free bus scheme, which operates intra-city services from Monday to Saturdays and inter-city services from Monday to Sundays across the State.

“While we acknowledge the steep rise in diesel prices and other operational costs for the scheme, the Edo City Transport Service, ECTS, has continued to explore various avenues to offset this surge, including skeletal hire services and partnerships with different groups and religious organizations such as Christ Embassy, Church of God Mission, and Winners, among others, which has helped to augment the increase in the cost of diesel and vehicle maintenance without recourse to government.”

Nehikhare further stated, “It is therefore disheartening and ridiculous to read in some sections of the media of patently false, baseless and misleading comments by the Senator representing Edo Central, Senator Monday Okpebholo, on the free transport scheme, in what seem like a desperate bid to be noticed.

“For the record, the figures quoted by the senator are imaginary. They are ill-intentioned and have no basis in truth, and should be disregarded by all Edo people. We suspect that he may have manufactured the figures based on the fact that the government has saved citizens a total of N1.5bn monthly that they would have spent on transportation cost were they to pay for the services now rendered for free by the government.

Nehikhare added that, “Edo people can be rest assured that their resources are in safe hands with Governor Godwin Obaseki, who has over and again proven his commitment to ensuring transparency, accountability, and prudent management of public resources.”

Speaking last night in Abuja, Senator Monday Okpebholo who is fast becoming the voice of resistance in Edo State politics accused the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki of cooking up indefensible figures to cover up the huge misappropriation of Edo resources.

While dismissing Obaseki’s defense, Okpebholo challenged him to tell Edo people how many operational buses ECTS has that gulped the N110m worth of diesel in three months.

Senator Okpebholo angrily despised Obaseki’s claim that the ‘free bus service’ saved commuters N1.5bn in the last three months. “Obaseki has again opened another can of worm with this claim.

“Assuming that the scheme has saved that much for commuters, that means ECTS makes over N500m each month. Yet, the company has been unable to buy new buses since 2016 when Senator Adams Oshiomhole handed over a vibrant ECTS to him.”

Obaseki he says, must account for the over N42bn revenue from ECTS since he assumed office in 2016. The senator representing Edo Central advised Obaseki to confirm if indeed he received N5bn and trucks of grains from the Federal Government as palliative intervention for the fuel subsidy removal, instead of agonising over his revelation.

“The era of throwing power-point presentations and unsubstantiated figures at Edo people is over. Our people deserves to know how their resources have been spent by the governor.” Senator Monday Okpebholo, representing Edo Central and governorship aspirant on the All Progressives Congress platform demanded.

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