Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has asked Local Governments in the country to demand a refund of monies deducted from their allocations by the Federal Government and purportedly spent to build health centres in their councils.
He made the call yesterday when the executives and members of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria ALGON, Edo State chapter, led by Hon Hon. Itohan Osahon-Ogbeide paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Benin City.
The governor who said the health centres were illegally awarded by the Federal Government said: “I want to use this opportunity to ask you to check in your respective Local Governments and give us a written report on the project which the Federal Government purportedly executed on behalf of your local governments. I am talking specifically on the so-called health centres, the contract for which was illegally awarded by the federal government and money illegally deducted from accounts of local governments.
“When people talk of autonomy, they don’t deal with the basic things. For me it was scandalous that that Abuja decided to award contracts on behalf of the 774 Local Governments to construct health centres. Somehow, I have been going round and I have not seen the ones in Edo state and yet those monies have been deducted.
“I think you have the right to insist those monies must be paid and to question the logic behind that central award and if fraud has been committed to initiate measures to take those involved to court and ensure that the money belonging to the people of your localities is not fraudulently embezzled,” he noted.
Comrade Oshiomhole said that, “it is important that we strengthen democracy and Abuja must recognize its limits and we also as state government can never spend the Local Government money. We must recognise your right as local government to spend money in accordance with appropriation laws that will be passed by the legislative arms of the local government.”
The governor disclosed that “as you are aware, we have on your behalf also asked our lawyer to file a suit challenging the right of ALGON to any one purportedly acting on their behalf at the national level to deduct directly from source from the federation account in the name of ALGON. I believe ALGON is a voluntary association, it is the local government equivalent of the Governors’ Forum and at the Governors’ Forum, states make their contribution on voluntary basis, you cannot ask the Accountant-General to deduct from source ALGON money and we believe it is meant to enrich a few individuals.”
The governor assured the ALGON of the state government cooperation saying that the state government will not spend any kobo on behalf of the local government councils.
Earlier, Chairman ALGON, Hon. Osahon-Ogbeide said they were in Government House to introduce the new state executive.
She said, “we have come to thank you for putting the Local Government councils in place, we know it was not an easy task despite the challenges you were able to do all that was needed to be done. We have come to pledge our support in your developmental drive as long as the grassroots is concerned. We will cooperate with you to take Edo State to the next level”, she added.