A Benin-based activist and Chairman, One Love Foundation, Patrick Eholor, has given the state governor, Godwin Obaseki seven days ultimatum to give full details of the various contracts he had awarded so far as governor of the state. This challenge is coming on the heels of a press conference addressed by the Association of Indigenous Contractors to repudiate allegations against the governor of awarding contracts to persons other than indigenes of the state, a development that had pitched the governor against some of his party leaders and members. While describing the allegation as weighty, Eholor said the governor needed to come out clean on the matter in order to take away the doubts on the minds of those who believe it.
The activist who is leveraging on the Freedom of Information Law to compel the governor to provide the demanded information said “I am using this today, I want answers because he invited you, the press yesterday; he wasn’t there, and I have read what they said. I’m convinced that they are not lying; I have no right to say they are lying or not. But I want to compel the governor, with the provision of the FOI Act, to provide this information.” While noting that it was mandatory for a state government to publish contracts to be awarded “so that there would be no self-interest”, Eholor said “therefore, I am compelling Governor Godwin Obaseki, within the next seven days, to publicly give us the names of the contractors who had been working in my state, our state. Let us know the areas they have been working, let us know if these contracts were advertised; to let us know the newspapers/ media houses that carried these advertisements. It is very important, and I am sure it is also very paramount to the citizens of Edo State.” The governor was also challenged to disclose his relationship with the contractors. He said though the governor had the right to give contracts to his friends, Edo people needed to know if such friends were credible enough to be so patronized.
The activist, popularly called Ultimate Equal, wondered why the governor had been shying away from addressing the press since he came into office. According to him, “I also want to use these same media to ask Godwin Obaaseki why he’s running from the press; why is he not defending these weighty allegations? Why am I now the spokesperson for Obaseki and the state?” Eholor urged him to respect the media men who projected him into power. “Do them the honour and grant them interviews and stop sending to us Crusoe (Crusoe Osagie is the governor’s media aide).” While acknowledging that Crusoe is doing his job, the activist insisted that “but the governor needs to speak to you the press.” The governor had since the inception of his administration, expressed his preference for social media, rather than the conventional media.
This is not the first time Eholor is invoking the FOI Law to demand information from the state government. Recently, he had requested for an explanation of the state’s foreign debt profile of $246 million (Two hundred and forty-six million United States Dollars) which he said was yet to be reacted to. He was, however, hopeful and optimistic that the governor would respond to the request, stressing that the FOI Act provided for a period of 30 days for it to be responded to.