Thursday, April 24, 2014

All governors approved “good governance” tour, Uduaghan tells Oshiomhole

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The Delta Governor has faulted a recent claim of ignorance by Mr. Oshiomhole about the good governance tour.

Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has offered an apparent rebuttal of his Edo State counterpart, Adams Oshiomhole’s remark denouncing federal government’s “good governance tour”, insisting the controversial exercise received the backing of all 36 state governors.

The tour is led by the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who is travelling with a delegation of officials, journalists and civil groups to all states, purportedly, to highlight projects achieved by the federal and state governments.

The delegation has covered more than 15 states, and the visitations continue in what critics have dismissed as a jamboree.

Mr. Oshiomhole took the spotlight on Tuesday after he claimed to have rejected Mr. Maku’s proposal to support about 120 people visiting his state with the feeding, logistics and hotel accommodation.

“It is not proper to use Edo State tax payers’ money to finance a Federal Government programme,” the governor said. “If they pay me a courtesy visit, I will receive them, but I don’t have a dime to spend on them because I do not need them to come to tell Edo people how I built roads and schools. My achievement speaks for me.”

“Whenever Edo State government officials travel to Abuja for official duties, the state takes responsibility and not the Federal Government,” Mr. Oshiomhole said.

The remarks have drawn subtle responses from the planners of the tour, accusing Mr. Oshiomhole, a member of an opposition party, of being partisan on a subject he jointly endorsed.

The Delta State Governor spoke as he received the delegation in Asaba, the state capital, on Thursday.

“I confirm and reaffirm that we all (governors) collectively agreed to this programme,” Mr. Uduaghan said.

“As a State Government we are very very supportive of this programme. We thank you for your efforts so far. Please I also want to say that you shouldn’t be discouraged. The hallmark of leadership is that you see the good, bad and the ugly and let the ugly not derail you from your focus,” the governor said.

The Information Minister, Mr. Maku, appeared even more forthcoming, detailing how the programme, estimated at costing the nation several millions, if not billions of naira, was approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, and the National Economic Council, which the governors are members.

After the initial deliberation, the powerful Governors’ Forum set up a special committee of governors, chaired by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, for further deliberation and approval of the progamme’s template.

“We have gone through states that are not PDP. We have been to a CPC controlled state and they were elated when they heard the comments by the team on the projects, and the publicity it brought to them. We have sworn an oath not to be partisan. We have been to APGA states and letters of commendation have even been written to us,” Mr. Maku said.

“Once you are elected as a Governor, you are no longer a PDP Governor, you are Governor of everybody in your state no matter the parties we belong to and you are working for the whole of society.

“Our democracy is still very young, we are just 13 years old and people don’t see the difference that is being made because democracy by nature involves arguments, involves disputes between those in power and society and sometimes in the midst of this disputes,” he added.

Those informed of the planning say Mr. Oshiomhole was not needed to make financial contribution, except as he wished to assist, as all the governors, at the level of the governors’ forum had earlier made some financial commitment for the tour.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the governor’s are expected to provide, mainly, accommodation and feeding for the tour members.

“Some governors provided only accommodation for a few tour members that their state could afford,” a member of the delegation said, saying the Edo Governor was only “trying to play to the gallery” with his comments.

Sylvester Monye, the Special Adviser to the President on Performance Monitoring, said behind the scene, Mr. Oshiomhole assured him he was “happy” to host the tour. What he abhorred, Mr. Monye said, was being seen to be assessed by the federal government.

“I spoke with the Governor of Edo State in Ekiti on Saturday and I was surprised that he went to talk about it in the media. The decision to have this tour was actually initiated by National Planning Commission, Ministry of Information and my office,” he said.

“You see, when you talk about funding, you think about estacodes, per diem and little money. But is a lot more than per diem, the security that you need to go round for the states. I am sure that is not what the minister has budget for. So you expect a state government to support the initiative with such support.”

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