Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, governor of Edo State, is not known to make frivolous, unsubstantiated statements, not even now that politicians running all over the place canvassing for votes make it a point of duty to claim, allege or raise issues patently false against opponents with a view to gaining even an infinitesimal advantage. So when the Comrade Governor informed the people of Okpella, Etsako East council area of the state, last week that a non-existent water project built and equipped by the Federal Government had been completed in the books of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, he was not playing politics butmerely raising a verifiable point. The N800 million water project claimed to have been completed by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration in Okpella was actually not done.
Comrade Oshiomhole had his facts. At page 127 of a publication titled: ‘’Sure & Steady Publication: Progress Report of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration’’, Vol. One, it was copiously stated under the briefings of the Ministry of Water Resources that the Jonathan  administration did commence and indeed completed the Okpella Water scheme at a cost of N800 million. The same information was contained in the 2013 Calendar published by the Federal Ministry of Information where it proudly listed the Okpella Water Scheme among the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.  The Senate Committee on Information, had in February 2014 confronted the former Minister of Information, Mr. LabaranMaku, on the erroneous claim that the Okpella Water Scheme had been completed.
Members of the Okpella community, provoked by this sheer falsehood, had also, under the auspices of Okpella Progressive Union (OPU), Norhern Congress, written a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in November 2013 to investigate and bring to book the contractor who claimed to have executed the said project aware that nothing was actually done.  It was heart-warming when the EFCC, in discharge of its responsibility, set up a panel of investigators in 2014 to look into the claims which committee found out that noghting had been done with respect to the project.
While reacting to the allegation made by Comrade Oshiomhole on the Okpella Water Scheme, the Minister of Water Resources, Stella Ochekpe, countered that the  abandonment of the water project should be blamed on General MuhammaduBuhari’s Petroleum Tax Fund (PTF) and not the Jonathan administration.The question to ask Stella Ochekpe is this: If the project was abandoned by the PTF which wound up 17 years ago, how come it was listed as a completed project of the Water Resources Ministry she supervises and an achievement of the Jonathan administration?
There is no doubt that monumental fraud has been committed in the name of the Okpella Water Scheme for which the Minister of Water Resources ought to apologise not only to the people of Okpella but also Edo people and indeed all Nigerians over these false claims rather than attempt to play ultra-cynical politics with a serious issue that has to do with the squandering of N800 million of tax-payers’ money for a job not done. The Minister’s attempt at shifting blame has become the hallmark of the Jonathan administration. It is public knowledge that General MuhammaduBuhari’s tenure as chairman of PTF has been applauded even by former President, Gen. OlusegunObasanjo.
It is sheer wickedness on her part to blame PTF for abandoning a project which the ministry under her supervision claimed to have executed to completion and for which not a single water pipe was laid. If the PTF abandoned the project, did the Jonathan administration complete it? If so, at what cost? The incontrovertible fact is that there is nothing on ground to show anyone that a water project was executed in Okpella. To advertise a non-existent project, as has been copiously done by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, as one of the achievements of the Jonathan administration is confirmation of the widely held assertion that corruption and official sleaze is fast eroding the fabric of our collective sufferance and driving us on the path of a failed state.
The matter of the Okpella Water Scheme must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet by Stella Ochekpe who may have decided to play the proverbial orstrich by engaging in shifting blame and ignoring the crux of the matter. Nigerians must continue to demand accountability and transparency from those who preside over our collective patrimony on issues of governance and public finance. We must insist on full disclosure of facts as opposed to distortions for the sake of cheap political points.
The Federal Government and the ruling party have become experts at shifting blame. It is well known that fuel scarcity hit the nation last week. Rather than accept responsibility for throwing the nation into an avoidable fuel crisis, the national chairman of PDP, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, blamed the opposition APC for orchestrating the scarcity. The lie was immediately put to the claim when the NNPC defended the opposition, saying its inability to pay subsidy claims to petroleum product importers caused the shortages. This penchant for blame shifting is symptomatic of curable malaise of rotating on one axis, a sort of motion without movement. Curable because Nigerians have opportunity, come March 28, 2015, to decree that the nation must change for the better.

NASAMU JACIOBSIN, A Public Affairs Commentator, lives in Benin City.