Edo State people woke up to their chagrin last week, when Mr. Alaba Lawani, a patriotic indigene of Igarra, in Akoko Edo LGA, in Edo North Senatorial District of the State, blew a shrill whistle on an atrocious pretention, posing as road construction going on in Igarra. The deceptive construction was supposedly part of the Federal Constituency Projects for the LGA, and supervised by the federal legislator of Akoko Edo Federal Constituency, Hon Peter Akpatason, and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. (some think under development would have been a more appropriate ending to the name).

On the road construction site in reference, some hired quacks seemed to have been following a devious instruction to simply pour asphalt on bare floor and go home to their wives to rest. Job done!. And millions of Nigerian taxpayers’ money gone down the drain into some corrupt politicians’ pockets as is the usual case! But, this time, unfortunately, they reckoned without the unusual appearance of Mr. Alaba Lawani on the scene, who promptly captured their malfeasance and blew the whistle, in a video now gone viral. The public outcry that followed the exemplary revelation was well worth the effort of the patriot.

Over the years, Foundation for Good Governance and Social Change ( FGGSC) has emphasized the role of citizens and community participation, vigilance, and ownership of public projects and investments. We will like to note with emphasis that, what we now call the Igarra fraud would most probably have missed the notice of the State government and Edo State residents easily, if not for the vigilance of that patriotic constituent of Akoko Edo. He did not only catch them in the heinous act but also promptly utilized the catchy maxim:” if you see something, say something “. We commend his eagle-eyed vigilance and salute his vocal activism!

In the same connection, we cannot emphasize enough, the commendable policy of minimum quality assurance and standard uniformity model for all projects executed in the State, irrespective of the source of such a project. Projects in the State must have a standard measuring instrument that marks out Edo State’s development paradigm. To that extent, therefore, whether they are federal, FDI, and NGO projects, etc, all must be subjected to standard scrutiny and approval before, during, and at completion. We note that such practice would ensure that there will be no repeat of the Akoko Edo experience.

We will like to commend the State Government, which acted pro-actively to remedy the situation by taking over the road for proper construction, and save Edo State from this national embarrassment, especially given the fact, that as much as N 360 million has been earmarked for Akoko Edo constituency projects this year. Edo residents also have our kudos for helping to stridently resonate the whistle blown by Mr. Lawani.

This incidence also underlines the necessity, nay; the imperative of a community ownership model of project conception, execution, and monitoring for Edo State.

Finally, we insist that this travesty and betrayal of trust against Akoko Edo people must not be allowed to be swept underneath the carpet. Those involved in the award, execution, and supervision of the fraud must all be made to answer questions and punished deservedly when found culpable.

 

 

 

Christopher Ojeikere
FGGSC, Edo State .