Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole
By Adibe Emenyonu
For reasons considered less than altruistic, a Benin City-based visually impaired businessman, Mr. Bob Williams Ihoeghinian, has petitioned Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, alleging foul play in the decision of the Permanent Secretary of the state’s Ministry of Environment, Mallam Alhassan Ikheloa, to terminate his over 10-year-old industrial solid waste cleaning contract with Guinness Nigeria Plc.
Ihoeghinian, in his petition, accused the permanent secretary of pursuing a personal agenda by ignoring the state Waste Management Board and going ahead to award the contract to his competitor, Tessy Evueta Nigeria Limited, to evacuate industrial solid waste from Guinness Nigeria Plc.
But defending the action of the ministry, Ikheloa told reporters that Ihoeghinian’s contract was “provisional” and was terminated because he “failed to honour the terms of (the) appointment under the Edo State Integrated Waste Management System”.
Ikheloa did not give details of the breaches committed by Ihoeghinian.
The defence of Ikheloa, however, contradicted that of the state Waste Management Board whose director, Mr. A. Izilien, a month earlier, had informed Ihoeghinian in a letter that his firm is the duly accredited waste manager for industrial solid waste evacuation from Guinness Plc. He said Tessy Evueta Nigeria’s contract is for evacuating beer bottom/sludge and broken bottles from the brewery.
Many were worried about how a 10-year-old contract could be described as “provisional” by the permanent secretary. It could not be confirmed if the permanent secretary has any personal or passing interest in the company that was awarded the contract.
But the argument was also made that the government has the powers to terminate any contract if it was not satisfied with the performance level of the contractor in question, provided due process in doing so is followed. Did Ikheloa act beyond his powers to unilaterally terminate the contract without going through the Integrated Waste Management System?
Nevertheless, Ihoeghinian said that he was worried about the antics of the permanent secretary, especially as the authorities of Guinness Plc have repeatedly expressed satisfaction with his services dating back to 2001.
Brandishing some letters of commendation from the company, he alleged that Ikheloa and other top government officials were part of a plot to scheme him out at all costs.
The petitioner said that his firm, Bob Williams Cleaners, which was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Abuja, the Ministry of Environment as well as the state Waste Management Board, has over the years, paid all the necessary fees, levies and dues to the state treasury to enable it to remain in business.
He insisted that there is no justifiable reason to terminate the contract, as his immediate clients and the supervisory agency have been impressed with the discharge of his contractual obligations.
Ihoeghinian disclosed that the latest amount he paid into the government coffers on June 25, was to renew his licence as an industrial waste collector but that he was shocked when exactly two months later, the Ministry of Environment wrote him terminating his contract with effect from September 1.
He appealed to the governor to intervene in the matter because the contract with Guinness Plc was his only means of livelihood, adding that if he is denied the contract, his family would suffer. There are not too many things a blind man can do to survive. And that is why Ihoeghinian’s appeal appears compelling even if it is on compassionate grounds.