Corruption Allegation: The Actual Cost Of Umaza Primary Health Centre Renovation

  • Contractor threatens to blow the trumpet if he isn’t paid
  • “Chairman Siphoned the money with his Vice” – Umaza Elder
  • “I have no personal axe to grind with Destiny Enabulele”, says local activist
  • “I was suspended without pay for two months for questioning the projects” – LGA Councilor
  • ‘I queried the project but forgot when’, says Destiny Enabulele

The project to renovate Primary Health Centre in Umaza in Ovia South-West Local Government Area was awarded for the sum of N7,168, 048, Standard Gazette authoritatively report.

The health centre has created a buzz on social media after a Benin-based activist, Mr Joseph Ghale released a video of the centre’s dilapidated state on Facebook.

Cost of awarding the Health Care Contract
Cost of awarding the Health Care Contract

The project was awarded in 2018 to Fresh Affairs Limited of No. 3, Efedhoma Crescent, off Enehezena street, 2nd power line, Oluku Quarters Benin.

There have been mixed information from the local government’s Chairman, Comrade Destiny Enabulele, the Councilor, the Contractor and the activist.

While Mr Enabulele said the activist was out to get him over the role he played during the brawl between Edo people and Ijaw settlers, Mr Gbale argued that Enabulele is an acquaintance he recently invited to his baby dedication ceremony and did not have a personal issue with him.

Speaking with Standard Gazette on Tuesday, Mr Enabulele said Mr Gbale was “mischievous” when he claimed the Council expended the total amount for an incomplete project.

He bragged that interested parties could inquire from the department of works at the Council, any information regarding the project and would be provided instantaneously.

The LGA Chairman also disclosed that “the project’s proposed amount is about N6m or less. We have released only 25% to the Contractor.

“I queried it myself when I went out for work inspection,” The Chairman said.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is elder-of-the-community-who-alleged-that-the-money-was-siphoned-by-destiny-enabulele-and-the-vice-chairman.png
Elder Demudia Felix says Enabulele siphoned the money with his vice-chairman

It could be recalled that one of Umaza’s elders’ elders, Mr Idemudia Felix, pointed out that Mr Enabulele was aware of the incomplete project. He said “have you seen what the contractor has done; we are going to arrest the contractor,” referring to how the LG Chairman reacted.

Mr Idemudia also added that “It’s a lie, the Chairman and his vice have siphoned the money”.

Mr Enabuele had told Standard Gazette that the contract was awarded through bidding. He said he never met the contractors before the contract; however, Standard Gazette learned that the contract had been awarded to the Vice Chairman of the local government council members who later awarded it to someone else before the current Contractor.

Standard Gazette also learned that five contracts were awarded in 2018, but the Council collected 15% as kickbacks from each 25% payout. A source told our correspondent that the Council only left the Contractor with 10% takeoff fund, which was not enough to carry out a significant renovation.

Destiny Enabulele Chairman Ovia South West Local Government
Destiny Enabulele Chairman Ovia South West Local Government

When queried, Mr Enabulele said “I never handled the project, contact the HOD” He also said that he couldn’t recall when the contract was awarded but assured that he queried it. When asked to give the year, he queried the project; he said: “I can’t remember, I think it was before the election”.

The Chairman also told our correspondent that if this paper wants the details, It should “write through FOI act.”

Mr Ghale on the other hand told Standard Gazette that after the Councilor of the ward learned about the poor renovation, he opposed it but was suspended for two months without pay.

Quoting the Contractor, Mr Gbale said “I worked with the money they gave me. I told the Chairman the money was not enough and he told me to put anything there.”

The activist said Mr Enabulele lied when he insinuated that he had a personal issue with him, saying “My problem with him has been for the people. He is my friend, I greet him when I see him, but there must be a time when you separate governance and personal issues.

“A few days ago, I did my baby’s dedication, I invited him, and he sent someone to represent him. Why did I invite him If I have a personal axe to grind with him?”

“The place is not healthy for a living and worse for a sick patient,” he added.

The activist said he fights for the health centre because one day, It might save a child’s life and he would feel sad if he didn’t do anything about it when he could have.

Mr Gbale said another contractor, Osagie Agbonlahor is currently in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a similar fraud in the same Local Government Council.

This paper learned that Mr Enabulele was invited a few days ago by the EFCC over abandoned projects and inflation of the projects’ cost.

Mr Enabulele-led executives awarded a contract for building a primary school, three-room building in one of the Ijaw communities. The deal was also awarded in 2018 and cost a whopping sum of N13m.

The activist alleged that the Contractor used palm kernel shell instead of granite for the foundation and was rejected by the ward’s councillor.

Standard Gazette learned that the Councilor was also suspended for a no cause.

The Edo based activist said “I petitioned the governor on August 8, 2019, and the governor minuted the letter to Superb who later replied me. From 2019 November to 2020 November, nothing was done, and Enabulele is leaving next month.”

“Enabuele gave five projects and only paid mobilisation of 25%, and out of that, the Chairman collected 15%, leaving the Contractor with nothing. He had to source for fund to complete 4 out of the five projects and till today, the Chairman has refused to release his money.”

“The Contractor is said to be broke, begging to feed as his money is tied
to the four projects he completed,” He alleged.

Hon. Osahenvemwen Godwin Ese, the councillor representing the Umaza ward in Ovia South-West LGA, said the contract was awarded in 2018, “the only contract awarded in my ward that year”.

“As I speak now, the health centre is abandoned. They just did some skeletal work, they didn’t remove the roof to repair or the doors, they only laid tiles, and I spoke with the Chairman about it. He told me it would be done, and that was registered as our first fight,” he spoke with our correspondent.

“When I spoke with him again, he concocted a political lie that I went to another ward to hold a meeting against Mr Godwin Obaseki, and I got suspended for two months without pay. After consulting with friends and relative, I apologised to Mr Enabulele before I was called back to work. This happened was December December 2018 to February 2019.”

But In May 2020, we were chased out of the office because we refused to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party and since then, we haven’t returned to the office, and my ward and other five others have no councillor representing them.

When asked if he questioned the Contractor, Hon, Osahenvemwen said “about three contractors sublet the contract to one another,” quoting the Contractor.

He added, “The Contractor also said that the money given to him was not enough to remove the roof, so he started from the tiles. He also said the Contractor confided that he didn’t get additional money to continue the renovation.”

Destiny Enabulele Mansion along MTN Road in Benin City
Mansion along MTN Road in Benin City

The Contractor identified as Ephraim refused to divulge any factual information, saying he had already replied to the local government who sent him a letter on the same matter.

He added “I have replied to the local government. The governor has set up a committee to investigate this; eventually, everything will come out. I want things to take their proper shape; it won’t make any sense if I had already told you everything before attending the committee’s invitation.

“But I can assure you that we have not erred in anyway, I can only tell you that the company was only mobilised for 25%.”

Destiny Enabulele's mansion being built within three years of Chairmanship
Destiny Enabulele’s mansion being built within three years of Chairmanship

The Contractor warned that “if what we desire is not granted, we’d call for a press conference with all our document and let everyone know what is going on.”

However, Standard Gazette leaned that Mr Enabuele, who was in a one-bedroom apartment (self-contained), is building a mansion along MTN mass road off Ugbor road, the street opposite Morzi Hotel, three years after becoming the Chairman.

We reach out again to clarify the allegations against the Chairman and he said “The person who alleged must assert.”

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