Former Speaker of the Delta state House of Assembly, Peter Onwusanya, has been accused of scamming the state government with a contract awarded to him worth about N150 million to construct a secondary school in his constituency in Asaba.
SaharaReporters reliably learned that Onwusanya, who is still representing Oshimili South constituency in the house, got the construction of West End Mixed Secondary School, Asaba, awarded to his company, Sants Nigeria Limited, as part of his constituency project but failed to execute the project to terms and specifications.
The project, which could not be put to use till date, has forced parents and guardians of students of the school to take the option of staging a protest and petitioning anti-graft agencies about him.
A source close to the former Speaker expressed disappointment over the development, saying: “It’s disappointing the way and manner our legislators turn to contractors. Times without number, some of us had admonished the former Speaker to always focus on his legislative activities but he wouldn’t listen. Rt. Hon. Onwusanya may have used the funds for other personal things.”
A senior teacher at the school, who does not want his name mentioned, confided in our correspondent that as a result of the failed contract, the school authorities had to abandon the building, thereby introducing morning and afternoon sections for students of the school, which has created an uncomfortable learning environment and inflicted suffering on the students, teachers, parents and guardians.
“At a stage the state government, especially the Governor, were not helping matters,” the teacher lamented.
“No single action has been taken against the former Speaker, who has since collected the full payment for the job that was awarded him for over two years now. The Governor’s wife, Mrs. Edith Okowa, was very bitter over the issue; you know she was a former principal of the school.”
It was however learned that the former Speaker allegedly gave kickbacks to some senior staff of the Ministry of Housing, who in turn connived with him to oky the project, after which payment was made.
It was further gathered that the staff who were involved in the fraudulent act were sanctioned for certifying the defective job okay.
Contacted on the development, the State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, disclosed that the former Speaker had been asked to return to site and make amends on the defective project. When asked to give more details on the project, he declined.
“I don’t have the details here and wouldn’t want to give you wrong information,” he said. “I am not in the office now, I am out inspecting some projects in Agbarhor. The contractor remobilized to site sharing the defects. There were structural defects of the building, we had to engage the services of an external consultant at the cost of the contractor.”
Also contacted on the issue, the State Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Joseph Ogeh, corroborated Ebie’s claims, adding that the project was discovered to have some structural defects after the school principal raised the alarm.
According to the commissioner, the project was awarded by the immediate past administration sometime in 2013. He added that some of the staff who were found wanting while carrying out their duties of inspection and others, were demoted from level 13 to 12 and 11 as the case may be, while others had been denied promotion for two years.
As of the time of filing this report, calls and a message sent to the mobile line of the former Speaker were not responded to, but one of his former aides, who asked not to be named, said the issue was being handled by the appropriate quarters.