By Osakwe Aibuedefe Akugbe
Ordinarily, Hon. Jimoh Ijegbai would have passed for an honest and stable man, but his recent utterances and actions, claiming to be one of the Edo North Leaders, have left so much to be desired in a man who, on his own, had accused the Governor of Edo state of corruption and today is seen as one of the hailers of the same man.
Jimoh Ijegbai, before he worked with the Governor, was the chairman of Owan East Local Government before he was appointed to serve as commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs in the first tenure of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s administration, and later, he became the Commissioner for Education in the same administration.
Hon Jimoh Ijegbai was suddenly relieved from the Edo state EXCO as a commissioner in what was made to appear as a minor cabinet reshuffle. This action by the Governor did not go well with Mr. Ijegbai, who vehemently relayed his unpalatable experience with Gov. Godwin Obaseki. According to Ijegbai, the Governor of being unfair to him with his removal as a commissioner of education after he had coughed out the sum of Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N350million) from the Ministry of Education as a donation to Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term election in 2020.
Ijegbai had lamented that despite his benevolence, the most arrogant, wicked, and ungrateful thing Governor Obaseki could reward him with was his removal from office and the subsequent deployment of Dr. Joan Oviawe, a close ally of the Governor to oversee the Ministry because the Governor needed someone else to help him monitor the diversion of the donor funds coming into the Ministry.
Jimoh Ijegbai further alleged that Dr. Joan, whom he suspected to be having romantic affairs with Obaseki, prevented him as commissioner from nominating the SUBEB secretary from the Ministry, which has always been the norm, and boastfully stated that he would petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Governor Obaseki and Dr. Joan’s fraudulent activities at SUBEB after his tenure as the Governor of the State.
So far, investigation reveals that the worst and most appalling issue is the fact that the Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), which was previously managed by Dr. Joan Oviawe, still deliberately owe a lot of her contractors to date and vowed never to pay the contractors for reasons best known to the Governor and Dr. Oviawe.
SUBEB, which operates under a counterpart fund jointly financed by the Universal Basic Education Board and the different state governments, is supposed to have the funds readily available in an account before jobs are awarded, but in the case of Edo State, the funds cannot be accounted for hence the delay in the payment of the contractors.
While we have been able to track the details of all transactions and the personal conversations, we await the response of Jimoh Ijegbai, the former commissioner, as we dig further into the Seventy-Five Million Dollar ($75m) scandal currently rocking the Ministry of Education and how the funds are currently being diverted.
After a forensic audit, we shall invite the EFCC to check the records of the Ministry and SUBEB to see the financial mess perpetrated by Ijegbai during his tenure as a commissioner of education and those who conspired with him.