Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole yesterday explained why the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment was retired, just as he advised Civil Servants in the state to provide creative leadership in their various ministries.
The Governor who held a meeting with Permanent Secretaries in the state at the Government House, Benin City urge the Permanent Secretaries to reflect on the challenges of providing good governance in the state.
He said the retired Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities gave out the Kings Square premises in the heart of the city to a multinational company to do business for 31 days at a ridiculous rate of N300, 000 throughout the duration.
“I have a duty and obligation to explain why we had to retire the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment and hope that this will guide you on how you manage your own ministries. We are all at the mercy of the Edo people and we would have our jobs secured to the extent that we are able to competently manage our various portfolios in a way our people get maximum benefit,” he noted.
According to him, “while going round in Benin City you will agree that in spite of all investments we have made, the city has remained substantially unclean. We have refuse in so many places, our walk ways have been taken over by all manners of persons, and people are parking vehicles on the roads we have expanded thereby denying our people free flow of traffic.
“I have even seen people converting highway to permanent garage where they sell vehicles and you find things like vehicle for sale as if we have expanded the road to serve as a permanent motor park. Public places like the Oba Ovonranwen Square has been turned to refuse dump and across the state the markets are unclean and I have had series of meetings with the ministry of environment to take their job a little more seriously,” he added.
The Governor disclosed that before the Christmas, he warned them to ensure that all the street lights work because the government cannot use tax payers money to erect street lights only to have them not working because someone is not doing what is suppose to be done.
“I do not believe we need to hire the services of a contractor to replace a bulb on a street light, I believe our civil servants have the competence to at least replace a bulb. I also do not believe that we need contractors to get a mechanic to fix a generator which is faulty. I do not believe we need to hire a contractor to help us procure diesel to ensure generators are working in order to ensure that the street lights work. We have done everything we can to make the ministry take their jobs seriously, but I regret that in spite of this, most of the time we still have areas where street lights ought to be on but they are not on because there are all kinds of things I consider excuses why street lights are not on,” the governor noted.
He further disclosed that he has seen from records that most civil servants even have the best of degrees from High Profile University, better than you will find in the private sector, but the truth remains that the civil service is not working optimally.
“We cannot get good governance if the civil service is not ready to play its part and the civil service is the official memory of government and beyond the vagaries of politics the civil service ought to ensure policy stability. You are to ensure that government policies are executed, you are responsible for the formulation of agreements, MOU’s and to ensure they are also implemented.
“I am sure you will be surprised to hear that the past Permanent Secretary for Environment gave out Oba Ovoranwen Square to a multinational company to use for thirty days, from December1 2012 to January 1, 2013. That is a period of 31 days and for this period in the judgement of the former Permanent Secretary he offered that facility for N300, 000. What does that translate to, less than N10, 000 a day to a multinational?
Comrade Oshiomhole said that the price is ridiculously low because “the cost to government maintaining the facility at that square, the salary we pay to the employees, all the overhead expenditure we have to incur is far in excess of that, which means Edo state government will be subsidising a private multinational.
“But that was not all, they took over that facility and generated so much waste and they told me they expect Guinness to clean up the waste and Guinness claimed they paid N20, 000 to clean the waste but the ministry insists it was N200, 000 they paid for 31 days and that translates to about N6, 000 a day to manage the waste generated. The need to use a team of cleaners, compacting truck to evacuate the waste to the waste dump, and for all of those services, the men and women involve including the overhead is borne by the waste management board, and that is to be met within N6000. I believe this is the height of irresponsibility,” he added.
The Governor also informed the Permanent Secretaries that in the next few weeks they will be accounting officers of their ministries until the appointment of Commissioners in February and he pleaded with them to take their job seriously.
“In 2013 we cannot do things exactly the way we did them in 2012 or in the past, we must revisit our attitude to work and take the state as their own by doing their best to keep the state going,” he added.