RE- COMRADE IKHIDE ERASMUS, VETERAN JOURNALIST WINS LABOUR PARTY REP TICKET IN EDO , SETS TO DETHRONE PROF JULIUS IHONVBERE. - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER

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RE- COMRADE IKHIDE ERASMUS, VETERAN JOURNALIST WINS LABOUR PARTY REP TICKET IN EDO , SETS TO DETHRONE PROF JULIUS IHONVBERE.

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Our attention has been drawn to the above headline in some Online News Blogs and other Social Media Platforms. In our usual character, we would have simply ignored the publication, because we see it as totally unworthy of our response. But on a second thought, due to the prevailing circumstances the nation is currently into, especially in this period when political campaigns for 2023 contestations are gradually picking up, coupled with it's attendant political chicaneries and shenanigans, half-truths, misinformation, innuendos and blatant lies, we decided to oblige the characters responsible for the phantom issues raised a suitable and verifiable responses in order to straighten the records and place the tissue of lies raised in their proper perspectives.

We will squarely address the spurious issues raised in the report pronto;

Firstly, one faceless lady Grace, who purportedly hails from Sobe community in Owan West Local government area was quoted to have said the 3 classrooms block reconstructed by Hon Prof Julius Ihonvbere more than 2 years ago in St Eugene Primary School, Sobe collapsed and was blown off by wind less than 3 months after it's construction.

Secondly, same lady Grace equally claimed that one of the contractors who handled the school building project told her people that " Prof Julius Ihonvbere who's in the habit of collecting 25% upfront from contractors is the reason the substandard structure collapsed easily before it was put into use.

Additionally, the said lady Grace also asserted that as Chairman, House Committee on Universal Basic Education, with over 800 billon naira annual budget, Ihonvbere has folded his hands while the Vocational Educational Centre built by former President Good luck Jonathan, a walking distance from Ihonvbere's home has been cannibalized and taken over by kidnappers and Fulani bandits in Uzebba.

Lady Grace also claimed that after collecting the sum of 750 million naira annually for scholarships and youths and women empowerment programmes, Ihonvbere distributed a paltry sum of fifty thousand naira only once in the last 3 years to 44 youths in the two local government areas which amounts to #2.2 million naira in totality.

A closer look at the piece reveals the voice of Esau and the hands of Jacob behind this futile attempt at blackmailing and making a caricature of Hon Prof Julius Ihonvbere, a man who has offered the Owan people a very patriotic and impactful representation since being voted for about 3 years ago. We shall soon unmask the masquerade.

OUR RESPONSE.

On the 3 classrooms block reconstructed in St Eugene Primary School, Sobe, in the 2019/2020 budget year, our Constituency staff saturday morning ( 16th July 2022 ) visited the school and discovered that the building is completely intact and in constant use by pupils and staff of the school. What was however discovered is that two of the aluminum roofing sheets were blown off about a week ago by wind. It is significant to state here that on completion of our projects, the respective state government Agencies, Local Education Authorities in charge of primary schools and Ministry of Education for secondary schools, takes immediate possession, for the purposes of administration and maintenance. Arising there from, it beats our imagination why mischievous elements, who in their desperate attempts to get elected by the people will resort to innuendos, blackmail and subterfuge, all at aimed at cashing in on the gullibility of the electorates. It is on record that well over 37 block of classrooms have either been constructed or rehabilitated in communities in all the 22 wards that comprise the Owan Federal Constituency in the last 3 years by Hon Prof Julius Ihonvbere, a feat never achieved by any other Rep in the history of Owan. It is therefore curious why an isolated case of two roofing sheets removed by forces of nature would be generalized in such a manner that tend to suggest that our entire projects are poorly constructed.

Leading by example is the hallmark of leadership. Before Hon Prof Julius Ihonvbere took a foray into politics, he led by example, through the instrumentality of the IHONVBERE FOUNDATION, with which he intervened in the lives of Owan people in particular and humanity in general through awards of scholarships and bursary to students, medical intervention, renovation of schools and hospitals amongst others. He did all these as a private citizen while working with the New York based Ford Foundation where he served as Program Officer in charge of Pluralism and Good Governance in Africa and the 3rd World.
What is needed to fix the  blown off roofing sheets in the Sobe school is far less than ten thousand naira in all. What therefore precludes a candidate who profess much love for the people or the said Lady Grace from assisting the community to fix the roof rather than resort to some cheap blackmail all aimed at achieving some selfish ends?

On the claim by the so-called lady Grace that one of the contractors revealed to Sobe people that the reason the building collapsed and the roof got blown off by wind is because Ihonvbere demands for 25% upfront from contractors, hence the substandard job done collapsed before it was even put into use.
This claim is not only a ludicrous one, it is rather outlandish and bizarre. Apart from it being baseless, it has further exposed the shallowness in the reasoning faculty of the hatchet man behind the masquerade.
Our swift and precise response to that is the fact that Honourable Members/Senators in the National Assembly do not get involved in the award of contracts. All they do is to nominate projects in their various constituencies which are then submitted to the relevant government Agencies who thereafter put them in the budget for that year. When the budget is passed, the relevant government Agencies will now put our advert in the media for eligible contractors to apply, handle the bidding processes and eventual award of contracts to eligible contractors. In addition, no contractor is paid a dime as upfront when executing constituency projects. It behoves on the contractor to source for funds to execute his job and gets paid after completing the project in line with the specifications and Bill Of Quantities ( BOQ ). As a matter of fact, virtually all contractors that executes Ihonvbere's projects complain openly to our Constituency staff that Prof Julius Ihonvbere is very stingy with projects and does not want contractors to ' chop ' good money in his contracts by nominating so many projects that his annual constituency votes must spread through as a matter of right. The resultant effect of this is that many more structures and Interventions are delivered to the Owan constituents at less cost in comparison to what obtains elsewhere . What Prof Julius Ihonvbere always tell them is " leave the job if you can't do it, other contractors who may not care about huge profits from jobs executed will come for them. With this scenario, it therefore beats our imagination where the issue of 25% upfront payment emanated from, if not for treachery and mischief purposes. The question that must readily come to mind is why other school buildings equally constructed courtesy of Prof Julius Ihonvbere haven't collapsed as well.

On the spurious claim that as Chairman, House Committee on Universal Basic Education UBE, with over 800 billon naira annual budget, that Ihonvbere has folded his hands while the Vocational Educational Centre built by former President Good luck Jonathan currently rots away, the actors have inadvertently exposed their poor and limited knowledge of legislative practices.
It is true that Prof Julius Ihonvbere is Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Services, and not UBE as wrongly stated by the mischief makers. The Senate equally has same Committee in place.
However, apart from legislative enactments, another very fundamental duty of the legislature is to carry out oversight functions on government MDAS. The UBEC, as well as others alike are Agencies under the control of the Executive Arm of Government. It is true that the UBEC do have as much as 800 billion naira budgeted for it on an annual basis. What the clowns failed to realize is that that money belongs to the 36 stares and the FCT SUBEB ( States Universal Basic Education Boards) and only UBEC has the right to allocate that money to states which is meant for intervention in primary and junior secondary schools structures. No, legislator, no matter how highly placed has access to a penny from that money. Their job ends at doing oversight in order to ensure that benefitting states apply the funds judiciously.

So, the issue of 800 billion naira annual budget which Prof Julius Ihonvbere is wrongly believed to superintendent over is best put into the trash bin.

As for the Federal Vocational Educational Centre located in Uzebba, the history and story behind it's establishment has been addressed in several fora by Prof Julius Ihonvbere. The Institution, funded by the Universal Basic Education Commission, ( UBEC ),  was facilitated by Prof Julius Ihonvbere, with the support of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, under whose administration he served as Secretary to the State Government. Work began on the Institution, which is meant to benefit the entire south/South region in 2014. It was established on build, complete and transfer basis. This simply imply that the UBEC will put relevant structures in place, provide the needed equipment and hand the Institution over to the benefitting state government who will then install the equipment and take over total ownership and administration of the Institution. This is because UBEC don't run schools. The project was completed in 2016, months to the end of Adams Oshiomhole's administration as Edo Governor. Upon the inauguration of Godwin Obaseki as Governor in November 2016, Prof Julius Ihonvbere severally reminded him of the Institution, whose installation of the equipment he campaigned with in Owan West during his Guber bid. But Obaseki showed no interest in the Institution for reasons best known to him, even till date. All the equipment meant for the effective functioning of the Vocational Educational Centre are in the Government House, Benin-City wasting away.

It is however on record that the Vocational Educational Centre was officially handed over to the Edo State government by UBEC at completion in 2016. The consequences of this is that all issues that concerns the School from when it was officially handed over to Edo State government should be directed to the appropriate quarters, which is the Edo State government, and certainly not Prof Julius Ihonvbere.

It is therefore baffling, the level at which some persons can play in the field of treachery, for someone to ascribe the non completion of the Uzebba Vocational Educational Centre to Ihonvbere's non intervention.
Nevertheless, it is delightful to note that Prof Julius Ihonvbere is not resting on his oars as far as the Institute is concerned. The Federal Lawmaker is currently exploring other means through which the Institute would function.

The most outlandish of their wild claims is the annual collection of a huge sum of 750 million naira meant for scholarships, youths and women empowerment programmes. It was further added that all Prof Julius Ihonvbere has done is the distribution of a paltry sum of 50 thousand naira only once in the last 3 years to 44 youths in the both LGAs, which amounts to 2.2 million naira in totality.
It is rather saddening how shallow the brains of some of those who refer to themselves as youths and wants to be entrusted with leadership positions could be. This despicable claim, intended at disparaging Hon Prof Julius Ihonvbere's personality could best be described as a crass display of irresponsibility. So, in the estimation of the hollow brained accusers of Prof Julius Ihonvbere, he has pocketed a princely sum of 2 billon, two hundred and fifty million naira meant for the Owan East people for a period of 3 years, out of which only 2 million, two hundred naira was expended on a fraction of some youths? And the man still walks the streets of Nigeria with his heads held high? 
Ihonvbere must be a superhuman to have misapplied and misappropriated such a humongous sum of money and he doesn't have a permanent suite in the EFCC and ICPC's custodies?

The fact remains that the Federal Government does not allocate money for scholarships to Legislators for their constituents. In year 2020, Prof Julius Ihonvbere gave out scholarships to over 60 Owan sons and daughters who are in various institutions of higher learning out of his own personal resources.
As for youth and women empowerment programmes, no special fund is allocated to legislators by the executive. Such programmes are nominated by the respective Legislator concerned as part of his annual constituency vote. The facilitators for such programmes are solely selected by the executing Agencies of government. All the lawmaker does is to itemize his intended programs for necessary execution by the Agency concerned.
It is therefore a mere figment of the imagination of Ihonvbere's traducers, whose stock in trade is cooking and distribution of mischief, cheap blackmail and treachery to claim that a Rep member gets 750 million naira vote annually for youth and women empowerment as well as scholarships for students.

In conclusion, we are proud to say that no amount of bitter diatribes launched at the person of Hon Prof Julius Ihonvbere would fly. He has proven over the years to be one of the most decent political actors in our clime, he is not taken to any form of subterfuge. This, he has sufficiently displayed to the Owan people, whose mandate he currently holds at the National Assembly.

While we welcome other aspirants to the 2023 Owan House of Reps contest, and urge that they embrace issues based campaigns, we however want to make it abundantly clear that we will not tolerate any further resort to pettiness and falsehood by some supposed candidates, which are aimed at tarnishing our hard earned image and reputation.
We are prepared henceforth to give such mischievous and deceitful elements, whose aim is to play on the sensibilities and gullibility of some of our people in order to curry their underserved support a run for their money.
We shall apply a bigger dose of their bitter pill on them henceforth to cure their inanities, whilst also to seek legal redress when necessary, because he that asserts must be ready to prove.

A WORD IS ENOUGH FOR THE WISE.

Picture 1 below shows the current state of St Eugene Primary School, Sobe, which was purportedly said to have collapsed and the roof blow off by winds.

Other attached pictures are some of the school projects facilitated by Prof Julius Ihonvbere still standing the test of time, years after their completion.
---- Comrade Joshua Iraoya;
Senior Aide on Media and Public Affairs to Hon Prof Julius Ihonvbere;
MHR, Owan Federal Constituency,Edo State.

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