By Akanimo Sampson
Edo State wing of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) says it is in support of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s administration revocation of state properties allocated to cronies of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
While the revocation may be politically correct, demolishing those properties will not assist the state to address its housing deficit. Before now, the Obaseki administration had promised to address the 300,000 housing deficit and provide affordable houses for the people.
Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, said the state government was willing to build affordable houses across the state to address the over 300,000 housing deficit faced by the people. He spoke at a two-day workshop on housing with the theme, Quest for Adequate and Sustainable Real Estate for Edo People, organised by the state government in Benin City, the state capital in April 2017.
Shaibu who represented Governor Obaseki, said Nigeria is faced with over 17 million housing deficit and Edo is contributing over 300,000 to it, and assured the people that the present administration will do all within its reach to address the deficit.
“I challenge the participants in this workshop to come up with affordable models that are within the reach of the masses unlike the housing schemes obtainable in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Those houses were acquired by the rich and not the civil servants whom it was meant for and at the end of the day, the deficits remained while the houses stand empty because the costs were too high. So, we don’t want that in Edo State. We want affordable houses for both the average and low-income earners,” he said.
Shaibu said the workshop was to use Edo as a model to other states in terms of housing. “This workshop is a real business that would turn Edo State into a hub utilising the geographical location,” he emphasized, noting that the Obaseki administration is organising several workshops to have the template and blueprint to drive the process of development in the state such that when commissioners and other aides come on board, there will already be a sense of direction and something to work on.
According to him, a system that does not plan is planning to fail, as such, the Obaseki administration was keen on avoiding failure, hence, it has embarked on these workshops to develop the state and make it the envy of other states in the country.
Shaibu revealed that the draft of a bill that would be sent to the House of Assembly was being worked on by the state government to give legal backing to building plans in the state with a view to addressing the housing deficit in the long run.
Workshop Chairman, Ali Magashi of Aso Savings and Loans Limited, commended Obaseki for the well-thought out the workshop on housing, saying that it goes to show that when educated people are at the helm of affairs in the political scene, things will be less difficult.
Speaking on Affordable Housing Financing in a Developing Economy, Magashi said it is regrettable that there is no appreciable success in the crusade for affordable housing development in the country. He, therefore, tasked the participants to see the workshop as an opportunity to proffer solution to the housing challenges not only in the state but the country at large.
“The governor is saying that he needs the best for his people and wants us to sit down and brainstorm and tell him how to do it. This is a challenge to us and we need to stand up to this challenge and make this initiative of the governor work by making housing financing work in Nigeria”, he said.
Magashi also suggested that the governor constitutes an advisory committee that would serve as a monitoring team that would give him feedback on the implementation of his housing policies.
However, the same Obaseki administration on Tuesday demolished the properties of the immediate past deputy governor of the state, Dr Pius Odubu, that of former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Julius Ihonvbere, and that of sports promoter, Mike Itemuagbon, saying the Certificates of Occupancy (C-of-O) of the properties were revoked alongside that of his own (Obaseki’s).
The administration justified its action, explaining that, it revoked the C-of-O of 11 government properties within the Government Reserved Area (GRA) which were allotted to former political office holders, companies and private individuals as parting gifts on the eve of the exit of former Governor Oshiomhole from office.
It further said that one of the properties was allocated to Governor Obaseki and was also revoked
While storm of criticisms, especially by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have trailed the incident, describing it a political vendetta against those who were in opposition to the Obaseki’s second term bid, PDP is expressing its support and commended the governor’s action.
PDP in a statement by its State Publicity Secretary, Chris Osa Nehikhare, said the party has consistently taken a strong stance on the importance of recovering and retaining state assets.
“On Wednesday, January 13, 2021, Edo State Geographic Information Service (EDOGIS) published a full page advertisement in some national dailies including the state owned newspaper, The Observer, titled, “REVOCATION OF RIGHTS OF OCCUPANCY AND COMPENSATION THEREOF IN PURSUANCE OF SECTIONS 28 AND 38 OF THE LAND USE DECREE No 6 OF 1978”, of beneficiaries as well as the details of survey plan and certificate of occupancy numbers of their allotment.
“This action became necessary as a result of the discovery of the mindless, reckless and absurd allocation and conversion of government properties and assets to private use by the ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole led APC government. Edo PDP cautioned ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole severally for his penchant for greed and illegality.
“PDP always condemned the gifting of government property for political patronage, a practice that was rampant in the Adams Oshiomhole led government. You will recall we had to mobilize to Lagos to stop the illegal conversion of Edo House, an edifice second-to-none in the highbrow Victoria Island, by Governor Oshiomhole, even though he disguised the conversion as sale to private interests.
“Nothing better reinforces the greed, hypocrisy and display of power arrogance than the forceful eviction and destruction of the University of Benin staff quarters along Edo-Osagie Avenue G.R.A., Benin City, by the Adams Oshiomhole led State government, than the allocation of same to his cronies. The brutality of that action still baffles Edo people.
“The People’s Democratic Party in Edo State supports and applauds Edo State Governor, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki’s decision to recover government property illegally converted to personal use.
“It is not only illegal and immoral but outright mischievous for Adams Oshiomhole to have gifted the official residence of the Secretary to the State Government to his Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Pius Odubu, and for Odubu to have accepted same and begin to lay claim of ownership to such, effectively denying the state an official residence for the SSG.
“Oshiomhole also had the audacity to allocate a huge portion of Government House to a company curiously named C.A. Aliyu and Company Limited. In an attempt to mask, hide and cover-up his deeds, Comrade Adams Aliyu allocated an unsolicited Government asset to Governor Godwin Obaseki who has rightly revoked and returned the Greek gift to Edo State government.
“Frankly speaking, the size of our victory in the last governorship election imposes a very special responsibility on us to be a government of high ideals, and hard choices. Not popular for one time but remembered for all time. Not just a better government than previous, but one of the great, radical, reforming governments of our history to build an Edo not for a few, but for all the people. And it will require ‘Resetting’ hard choices. I know our people can make them if we show how and why.
“Governor Obaseki and PDP have championed a fairer and more equitable society while our party has consistently taken a strong stance on the importance of recovering and retaining state assets”, PDP said.