Recently, the Edo Government sacked Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Youth and Special Duties, over allegation of padding the budget for the conduct of primary school examination.
In the same vein, the government announced the suspension of three officials involved in the alleged scam, which was put at N283 million. The State Commissioner for Communications and Orientation, Mr. Paul Ohonbamu, said government’s move was the outcome of an extraordinary session of the State Executive Council which received a panel report on the issue.
When the news of the scam first broke out, Obaseki had vowed to uncover the people that sent a N283 million request for the conduct of primary school examination in the state, which was eventually conducted at the cost of N30 million. The governor even went round the schools to personally supervise the conduct of the primary six school leaving certificate examination in the state.
The other three suspects were made to proceed on indefinite suspension without pay and their case forwarded to the State Civil Service Commission for appropriate action in line with extant rules.
Also, the state government set up a committee to be chaired by the Commissioner for Employment and Wealth Creation, Mr. Emmanuel Usoh to investigate the delisting of about 350 private schools from the list of eligible schools to participate in the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination. An audit of the accounts of the examination committee was also ordered.
Last week, the Edo State Government suspended four secondary school teachers for alleged illegal collection of levies from students. The suspended principals were alleged to have collected between N11,000 and N20,000 for school uniforms as against N3,000 for Junior Secondary School and N4,000 for Senior Secondary School approved by the state government. The State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Christopher Adesotu, said the affected principals have been referred to the Post Primary Education Board for disciplinary action.
Also last week, a Benin City High Court remanded the Edo State Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aisosa Amadasun and four others in prison custody over an alleged contract scam. Others remanded with her are: Prince Stephen Alao, former chairman of SUBEB, Adams Osabuohien, Dove Momodu and Ali Sulayman. They were arraigned on 50 count charges. They were alleged to have used their offices while serving as members of the Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to award contracts to their cronies after collecting money from them, an act punishable under section 98b (1) (a) (II) of the Criminal Code, CAP. 48 Laws of Bendel State of Nigeria, as applicable to Edo State.
They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on charge no B/ED/EFCC/5/2017.
All of these are clear indicators of the zero tolerance position of the present administration in the state to corruption. In one of my articles, I had cautioned Edo State Citizens, particularly public servants to flee corruption as the regime of Governor Godwin Obaseki abhors it. But even though many would have read the article, it was as though my counsel fell on deaf ears.
It would be recalled that during the swearing-in ceremony of the current commissioners in the state, the Governor warned them and all political appointees in the state to flee corruption as his government will not condone it.
Not-too-long ago, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, sought the collaboration of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the introduction of a capacity building programme to enlighten civil servants in Edo State about corruption related issues.
This was when he received the Head of the Benin zonal office of the EFCC, Mr. Mailafia Yakubu, who paid him a courtesy visit . At the occasion, the governor said civil servants in Edo State would have to enroll in the course as part of evaluation process for them. It is important to remind the governor to put a machinery in motion to get this going. The actions of the past few weeks has undoubtedly sent the right signals to all civil and public servants that any act of corruption would not go unnoticed and unpunished.
It is most laudable that the current administration in Edo and the EFCC have agreed to work together in re-orientating the minds of the public on the destructive effect of corruption to nation building. One only hopes that those in public service would shun the vice and make public service attractive to all citizens once again.
Many citizens simply believe it is a norm to be corrupt and they see nothing wrong in perpetrating it in all ramification of societal life. Raising public servants’ consciousness and telling them about the negative implication of corruption in the society and the penalties for wrong doing is the right way to go at this crucial time of our life when the nation is reeling under uncertainties of the present and the future.
Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Edo State.