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OPINION: Interrogating The Simple Agenda, Erosion And Flooding In Edo

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Don Ofure Osehobo

In most parts of Benin City, today, the fear of rains is the beginning of wisdom. The reason is that whenever it rains, almost every part of the city gets flooded and residences are turned into swamps; some for days and weeks and others, months.  As a result, tales of woe fill the lips of most residents as flood waters envelope their homes, overwhelm the surroundings, and destroy properties like cars, and household items like furniture among others.

Few years ago, the Edo State government revived the Benin City Masterplan and articulated the Storm water project to deal with the perennial problems of flooding and erosion. The project was designed to channel the flood waters through artificial underground canals. However, Governor Godwin Obaseki rather than continuing with the project, abandoned it. Unfortunately too, the PDP of which he is now a member has never articulated any plan for the flood menace in the state capital or the other communities. It will be therefore be disastrous for the state, if the party finds itself back in power.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the Edo APC governorship candidate in this year’s election has a solution for this erosion and flood menace, which is a source of concern, not only for residents in the state capital but the entire state. He has aptly captioned and enunciated it under the heading, “Infrastructure Development and Urban Renewal Programme” in  his Manifesto of Hope called Simple Agenda. With this plan, the new Edo state with Pastor Ize-Iyamu as Chief Executive, will adopt an integrated approach with new ways of building public works systems that is both cost and resource effective.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Captain Hosa’s Open Letter Illuminates The Tyranny Of Edo’s Reprobate Governor By John Mayaki 

As part of his commitment, he will review the Benin Storm Water Project for speedy completion to ensure that the problem of perennial flooding in the state capital is taken care of. In addition, major erosion reclamation projects and sites in the state will be diligently tackled to their completion stage while his government honours all outstanding obligations to the World Bank and other relevant agencies.

This is will be backed up with the provision of both primary and secondary drains to accompany roads, to ensure the proper channelization of floodwaters to appropriate receptacles instead of the present practice where floodwaters are directed to residential or inhabited areas .

Towards this end, all the major roads and streets within Benin City and the 18 local government headquarters will be asphalted and in most cases, accompanied with walkways, drains and streetlights, in an unprecedented urban renewal scheme. The walkways plan to include bicycle tracks so as to encourage cycling, as most distances within the metropolis can be embarked on with bicycles as roads should be for all users and not motorists alone. In what the Simple Agenda envisage, even car owners would wish to own bicycles. This also will infuse a new culture for the environment and lead to bicycle plants/job creation and a reduction in fuel consumption. The idea is to bring what has worked well in China, Holland and the Scandinavian countries to Edo state. This will also help in no small way to erase the  misconception that bicycles are for the poor.

On the reconstruction and rehabilitation of existing road networks in the state, the Simple Agenda objective is to bring many of Edo’s neglected communities back to life by building strategic roads, to link them with Highways or Express roads so they serve as alternative routes, when necessary.

As for Local Government roads, the agenda has a policy plan for collaboration between Local Government Council Chairmen and the State Government. This will be achieved by restoring autonomy to Local Governments in Edo state, so they can be encouraged to spend significant percentage of their allocations on road rehabilitation. In more specific terms, adequate funding will be extended to roads and drains at the local government areas, such that 10km of asphalted roads with accompanying road infrastructure will be constructed in each of the 18 Local Government Councils. Also the State Government under the leadership of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will construct an average of 300km of roads to link major towns with the state capital. In addition, under the Simple Agenda, communities shall be encouraged to embark on self-help projects to which the LGAs and the state government shall contribute meaningfully.

READ ALSO: Opinion: Random Musings On A Lazy And Failed Country, Nigeria

Pastor Ize-Iyamu as a youth, saw this strategy working successfully during the period Dr Samuel Ogbemudia’s administration held sway in the good old days of Bendel State. His government will resuscitate this approach and take it to the highest level of community awareness and active participation.

With regards to all existing road construction projects, Pastor Ize-Iyamu hopes to complete all of them. With the Simple Agenda, he deliberately plan to create new towns and settlements around Benin City. He also plans a second bridge to link Upper St. Saviour and Ikpoba Hill not only to reduce traffic bottlenecks on the Ikpoba Hill axis and Murtala Muhammed Way junction of Sokponba road but also to boost commercial and industrial activities in the area.

The Simple Agenda also contains the plan to extend the Airport Road beyond the Iyekogba bridge to Evbuodia Utagba Village to join Ekenwan Barrack Road by Ojemai Farms. This means that all vehicles coming to Ring Road from Ekenwan Barrack, Ugbine, and even Ugbiyoko axis will access the Ring Road through his extended Evbuodia/Airport Road.

To ensure that all the projects for erosion and flood control, road construction and rehabilitation remain in good conditions all year round, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will send a bill for the establishment of the Edo State Road Maintenance Agency to the State legislature. When established the agency, will have full complements of earth moving equipment at its state capital headquarters and all zonal offices in each of the three Senatorial Districts. The agency in collaboration with the  State Ministry of Works, will have full responsibility for continuous road maintenance and rehabilitation across the state. The objective is reduce cases of road failures and the huge costs of fixing them.

READ ALSO: Opinion:Soyinka’s Wisdom Cures Buhari’s Impotence

From the above, it is obvious that the objective of the infrastructure development and urban renewal programme in the Simple Agenda is to bequeath to Edo state, durable physical structures and facilities that will promote decent living standards. Moreover, the deliberate policy is to eliminate waste and bequeath a state-of-the-art infrastructure across the state that will be affordable to maintain so that future generations of Edolites can utilize it and be proud of it.

Ofure Osehobo, a journalist writes from Benin City.

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JUST IN: Tinubu Names New Heads For NCC, Galaxy Backbone, NIGCOMSAT

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of 10 executive heads across the Nigerian Communications Commission, Galaxy Backbone Limited, and Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, all agencies in the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, announced the latest appointees in a statement he signed Thursday titled, ‘President Tinubu reconstitutes management teams in agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.’

At the Nigerian Communications Commission, he appointed Abraham Oshadami as Executive Commissioner of Technical Services, Rimini Makama as Executive Commissioner of Stakeholder Management, and Opeyemi Dele-Ajayi as President and CEO of the Digital Bridge Institute.

At Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, he named Abiodun Attah as Executive Director of Technical Services; Aisha Abdullahi as Executive Director, Finance & Administration; and Jaiyeola Awokoya as Executive Director, Marketing & Business Development.

The President also appointed Ibrahim Adeyanju, Managing Director/CEO of Galaxy Backbone Limited, alongside three executive directors.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Tinubu Appoints Gaga NEXIM Bank ED

They include Mohammed Ibrahim, Executive Director of Finance & Corporate Services; Olusegun Olulade, Executive Director of Customer Centricity & Marketing; and Olumbe Akinkugbe, Executive Director of Digital Exploration & Technical Services.

With the reconstitution of the management teams in these agencies, President Tinubu expects the new appointees to “deliver excellent service to elevate the impact of the digital economy sector on the socio-economic development of the nation,” said Ngelale.

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JUST IN: Kwara Varsity Students Cry Out Over Alleged EFCC, NDLEA Raids

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Operatives of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Nigeria Police Force have reportedly raided and arrested some students of Kwara State University, Malete.

In several videos sighted by our correspondent on Thursday, the students were seen running for safety while gunshots were heard in the background.

A student of the university who spoke with our correspondent Thursday night disclosed that EFCC operatives were in the school on Wednesday while operatives of NDLEA and police officers visited on Thursday and arrested some of the varsity students after raiding the student community.

READ ALSO: EFCC Arrests 48 Kwara Varsity Students For Internet Fraud

Yesterday, EFCC raided the school. Today NDLEA and police came and arrested boys (students) anyhow,” the source disclosed to our correspondent.

Meanwhile, a tweet from an X user (@babyygirlfl0) read, “EFCC came to raid in the middle of the night, two days ago, arrested over 30 students, NDLEA came in today to do the same, students tried to stop them, they joined forces with the police and started throwing teargas at students, even started shooting gun, I saw with my own eyes.

“One student is dead, another is fighting for her life! Helppppp! Tag all the handles that can help please! The network here is really bad I’m so scared mannn. Gunshots and Teargas everywhere.”

Another user with the handle @thatgoodbae posted, “This school is a mess mahn!! I don tire!! Because how in God’s name is EFCC supposed to shoot at a student’s car??? Come to raid at 2am??? Taking students that have exams in the morning???”

READ ALSO: Gov. Mohammed Pledges Support For Educational Excellence

The students, however, stormed the school gate to protest the act and arrest of their colleagues.

In November, the EFCC chairman placed a ban on sting operations at night following the outrage that ensued after operatives arrested suspected internet fraudsters in Ile-Ife, Osun State.

EFFC operatives had invaded the off-campus hostels of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

Efforts by our correspondent to get the reactions of the trio of EFCC, NDLEA, and the police spokespersons proved abortive as calls made were not answered and text messages sent are yet to be responded to as of the time of filling this report.

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FAAC: FG, States, LGs Share N1.15trn For January

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The total revenue accrued to the coffers of the government increased to N2.07trn in January 2024 out of which N1.15trn was disbursed to the Federal Government, states, and local government areas, the Federation Allocation Accounts Committee disclosed on Thursday.

FAAC, in a communique issued at the end of its monthly meeting in Abuja, said the revenue was shared to meet the needs of the subnational governments.

According to a press release by the Director of Press and Public Relations of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Bawa Mokwa, the amount shared is N29bn less than the N1.44trn disbursed in January 2023.

The communique said the N1.45trn total distributable revenue comprised distributable statutory revenue of N463.1bn, distributable Value Added Tax revenue of N391.8bn, Electronic Money Transfer Levy revenue of N15.9bn and Exchange Difference revenue of N279.03bn.

READ ALSO: FAAC Shares N1.100 Trillion To FG , States, LGs

It also added that a total revenue of N2.07trn was available in the month of January 2024 while N200bn was kept as savings.

“Total deductions for the cost of collection was N78.4bn, total transfers, interventions, and refunds was N640bn and savings was N200bn.

“Gross statutory revenue of N1.15trn was received for the month of January 2024. This was higher than the sum of N875bn received in the month of December 2023 by N276bn,” the communique read.

The communique further stated that from the N1.15trn total distributable revenue, the Federal Government received a total of N407.267 bn, the state governments received N379.407 bn and the local governments received N278.041bn.

READ ALSO: FAAC Shares N907b To FG, States, LGs

It added that VAT collection was reduced by N71.7bn to N420.7bn in the month ending.

The statement added, “The gross revenue available from the Value Added Tax in January 2024 was N420.733 billion. This was lower than the N492.506 billion available in the month of December 2023 by N71.773 billion.

“From the N1,149.816 billion total distributable revenue, the Federal Government received a total of N407.267 billion, the State Governments received N379.407 billion and the Local Government Councils received N278.041 billion.

“A total sum of N85.101 billion (13 per cent of mineral revenue) was shared with the benefiting States as derivation revenue.

“From the N463.079 billion distributable statutory revenue, the Federal Government received N216.757 billion, the State Governments received N109.942 billion and the Local Government Councils received N84.761 billion. The sum of N51.619 billion (13% of mineral revenue) was shared with the benefiting States as derivation revenue.

READ ALSO: FG, Others Share N2.84trn In FAAC

“The Federal Government received N58.768 billion, the State Governments received N195.894 billion and the Local Government Councils received N137.125 billion from the N391.787 billion distributable Value Added Tax revenue.”

Also, the N15.922 billion Electronic Money Transfer Levy was shared as follows: the Federal Government received N2.388bn, the state governments received N7.961bn and the local governments received N5.573 billion.

“The Federal Government received N129.354 billion from the N 279.028 billion Exchange Difference revenue. The State Governments received N65.610 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N50.582 billion. The sum of N33.482 billion (13 per cent of mineral revenue) was shared with the benefiting States as derivation revenue.

“In January 2024, Companies Income Tax, Import Duty, Petroleum Profit Tax, and Oil and Gas Royalties increased significantly, while Value Added Tax, Export Duty, Electronic Money Transfer Levy, and CET Levies decreased considerably.

“The balance in the ECA was $473,754.57,” the statement concluded.

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