Lawyer and technocrat, Ogie Osarodion is the Edo State Commissioner for Works. The former Chief of Staff to Governor Adams Oshiomhole spoke with Abimbola Akosile on the impact of public private partnership on Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit, and also applauded Guinness Nigeria for spending N500m on the ongoing Iyoha Road project in Benin City as part of its corporate social responsibility project. Excerpts:
Facilitating Infrastructural Devt
When this administration came into office, there was nothing to write home about in terms of infrastructure in Edo State. Against that backdrop, one of the key programmes of the administration of Comrade Governor is infrastructural development. So far so good, all dilapidated infrastructures in Edo State, across urban and rural centres are being rehabilitated, and new ones are even being built.
What we are doing is just to follow the programme already set down at the beginning of the administration and to make sure that all our projects are done according to standards. Of course, when Comrade Governor came at the beginning of his administration in 2008, he had a blueprint for the administration and you know that, before me, there had been two different Commissioners of Work.
It’s not as if we are the first to start the implementation of the blueprint, but what we are saying is that since coming in we’ve made sure that the blueprint has been followed, every job that we have had to do has to be according to international standards. You can start projects but it’s another thing to make sure that you complete them. We are making sure that all our on-going projects are done according to the international standard as we have set down and that we meet our responsibilities to the contractors as and when due.
Edo Panacea for Road construction
You will notice that all our road projects cut across urban and rural areas. The same way we are working in urban areas, we are also working in rural areas. The roads we have in Orhiomwon Local Government Area are rural roads, and they cut across over 30 rural communities; same for the roads in Ovia South West Local Government Area.
For instance, Siluko to Umuazua cuts across rural communities, while the one in Ovia North East, in Olumoye, also cuts across rural communities. The road in Esan South East, linking Ohodua to Emu, also cuts across rural communities, as well as the one in Edo North. Our road projects in the state all cut across rural communities. We also have projects in urban areas like in Benin City, Auchi and Ekpoma. We are working in both urban and rural areas.
Iyoha Road Partnership Process
When we were invited to come and see the Iyoha road, the first thing that came to our mind was to make sure that the road was done according to the standards that we have already established and I am happy to report that it has met our standards. I’m not surprised, because I found out that before commencement of the project, the Ministry had to approve the design and it couldn’t have been approved if the design was not up to our standards.
I am happy that Guinness Nigeria Plc as a corporate entity is partnering us to improve the state of infrastructure and we appeal to other corporate bodies to join them, to partner the Edo State Government, because government cannot do it alone. Yes, government at all levels, federal, state, local government, will one way or the other do their own part, but corporate bodies also have responsibilities to partner with us and make sure that they bring development to their host communities.
Extent of Guinness Investment
From the briefing they gave us, I think they have spent over N500 million on that road and it is not completed yet. That is just the first phase. There is also another phase which will come immediately after the completion of the first phase. The first phase includes walkways and street lights.
Between Guinness and Edo Govt
Guinness is one of the few corporate organisations that recognises and fulfills its responsibilities to its host community and to the government. We’ve not had issues with them; whether it is tax matters or other responsibilities to government and I am happy to also say that they just met their responsibility to the communities that is hosting them.
So, I believe the relationship is cordial because they recognise their role, they know their responsibilities and they are carrying out their responsibilities and as long as they do that, we will continue to partner them. We want to encourage Guinness Nigeria Plc to continue to partner government especially in the areas of building critical infrastructures that will improve the living standards of the people.
Bane of Poor Implementation
As I mentioned earlier, we are committed to building infrastructure that are of international standards, and our road projects across urban and rural communities in Edo State reflect this commitment. Although this administration is in a hurry to deliver to the people of the state, we are not compromising on standard.
We actively engage in top level monitoring of ongoing road projects in the state to ensure that design, quality and implementation of projects meet international standards. Equally, we are prompt in meeting our obligations to our contractors to enable them deliver in record time without cutting corners. This administration remains steadfast to its commitment to build durable and sustainable network of roads across Edo State.