•Those making such comments‘re political jobbers — Prov Ihonvbere, SSG
•I‘ll construct Okpuje-Uzebba raod, says Ize Iyamu, PDP standard-bearer
By Gabriel Enogholase
OKPUJE- RESIDENTS of Okpuje, a sub-clan in Ilueha, Owan West Local Government Area, Edo State, who are predominantly farmers, say they would not cast their votes for any political party in the September 10 governorship election in the state, as long as the five-kilometer road linking the communities in the sub-clan to Uzebba was not constructed.
The people complained that past and successive governments in the state were playing politics with the road that was abandoned for years, making it impossible for them to evacuate farm produce and access neighboring towns.
NDV gathered that the road links Ivbiodehen, Oah, Iloje, Ikpayan, Abhoughola, Okeigho-Isheleke and other communities like Uzebba-Iuleha, the seat of the traditional ruler of the clan.
Oshiomhole flagged off road June 6
Our findings showed that as the governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, flagged off construction of the road on June 6, with some indigenes of the community at home and in the Diaspora under the aegis of Okpuje Patriots suspicious that his government wants to take it as an advantage to harvest votes from them. They said the governor had in 2007 while campaigning promised to construct the road and repeated the same promise four years later when seeking a second term in office.
PDP chair first awarded contract – Stephen
According to one of them, Mr. John Stephen, ”This road is very important for our people because they cannot survive without it; they need the road to evacuate their farm produce and interrelate with their neigbouring communities. It is now a political road and everything about it is now politics. “The contract for the road was first awarded by a PDP local government chairman in Owan – West and it collapsed after six months.
“Following this development, our people supported the APC when Governor Oshiomhole promised to construct the road, first in 2007 and 2012 and he never did. We were very sure that the government would construct the road, particularly when our son is occupying a strategic position in government because we are aware that they have done so many roads in other parts of the state where they have important citizens and politicians.
Continuing he said: “Suddenly, when information got to them in Benin that our people are agitating that they will not allow anybody to take them for a ride again and have resolved on ‘no road, no vote,’ they came up with the flagging- off of the road. “There is now fresh agitation among our people saying that they cannot continue to use our people to get votes and we now asked the government to tell us the cost of the project, its duration and the contractor that is handling it.”
We are tired of empty promises – Aisia
In addition, a former Supervisory Councilor in Owan West Local Government area, Mr. Moses Aisia, told NDV that his people were unhappy because since the governor flagged-off the road in June, they cleared only about one kilometer and since then, they have abandoned the road again.
Aisia asserted: “We are tired of empty promises and we have decided here that we will not cast our votes if the road is not constructed. We will not vote for any party if this road is not constructed. The flag-off by the governor is a cause of worry to us because truth is in short supply here. All we are saying is that we should not be deceived again. We will hold on to our decision on election day, which is “no road, no vote.”
He lamented: “Because of the dilapidated nature of the road, we pay over N300 on motorcycles to Uzebba, a distance of only five kilometers. What favour have we really got from this government in spite of voting for them twice? We are tired of government’s continuous deception.”
I ‘m hopeful – Community head
However, the head of the Okpuje community, Chief (Major) Benjamin Igbafen (ertd), the Osaije of Ivbiodohen-Ilueha, said: “We are grateful to the governor that he has started the road and I feel that he is going to complete it.”
Contractor mobilized to site — Ihonvbere
Meanwhile, Secretary to the Edo State Government (SSG), Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, while reacting to the decision of the Okpuje people not to cast their votes until their road was constructed, said that those who made such comments were political jobbers in the area, who do not even know the difference between politics of development and that of the stomach.
He said in a statement in Benin: “We are thankful that the road they are talking about has been awarded to a credible contractor and the state government has mobilized the contractor and work is going on now.
Vote me; I will not disappoint you, says Ize-Iyamu
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, while on campaign in Uzebba recently, promised to construct the Okpuje road to enable the people have a feel of government if voted into power.
Asked why the PDP chairman, who started the project did not complete it during the tenure of former governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, while he was Secretary to the State Government, SSG, he said: “There were no funds then, the administration got N196 billion in eight years, but Oshiomhole has received over N1.4 trillion so far.
“I went there, I have seen their plight, I know I will not play politics with it when I get into office and there is nothing to compare between the funds they have now and what Igbinedion had. The truth is that Oshiomhole has made many promises that he knows he does not intend to keep to the people. That is why they are angry.
“In his village, he has done over 39 roads, why is it that he does not want to do this road in Owan, where even his SSG, Prof Ihonvbere comes from. You can see how powerless he has made him (Ihonvbere) before his people and it is not that there are no resources to do it.
“He is the chief executive, Ihonvbere is only the SSG, he cannot do otherwise, except his boss wants agrees with him. So when people say I was SSG in the past and I did not do this and I did not do that, you need to know that SSG is not the governor. The man in charge is the governor and you can see the discriminatory traits of Oshiomhole and APC government.”