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

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Don Ofure Osehobo

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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.

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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 .

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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Akwa Ibom Chief Judge Threatens To Jail Rights Lawyer Over Bias Accusation

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The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, has threatened to put behind bars a Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong (Esq) for accusing her of being biased or likelihood of bias in the ongoing libel suit by Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel and Senator Effiong Bob against his client, Leo Ekpenyong, Esq.

It could be recalled that in suits No HU/279/2019 between deacon Udom Emmanuel VS. Leo Ekpenyong Esq and No: HU/273/2019 between Senator Effiong Bob VS Leo Ekpenyong respectively delivered on 2021by Justice Obot, the defendant was found guilty of libel and was asked to pay the governor a sum of N1.5 Billion and a sum of N500Million to Senator Effiong Bob.

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Counsel to the defendant, Mr Effiong, however, filed a motion for the judgement to be set aside, insisting that his client was not given a fair hearing; the prayer was later granted by the court.

However, the defence counsel also filed another motion praying the Chief Judge to recuse from the case, alleging prejudice and likelihood of bias.

During a proceeding held at High Court 1, Chief Judge’s court, Barracks road today, the defence counsel said “My Lord, my client Mr Leo Ekpenyong (Esq) has alleged bias, or likelihood of bias of the honourable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Honourable justice Ekaette Obot.

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“That is why we filed an application before this court on the 23 of June 2022 asking the Honourable Chief Judge to disqualify himself from hearing or presiding over this matter. Defendant has raised that the grounds of that application clearly stated but not limited to the fact that in the course of this proceedings my Lord has personally berated us as counsels. I have been described in venomous terms, we know that by law, a court should not address a counsel in that manner. The seeming hostility that characterized the proceedings to set aside the default judgement is discouraging.

READ ALSO: Ogun Police Confirm Report On Lady Allegedly Used For Ritual

“Why we are also asking that my Lord should reassign this matter is because my Lord has already delivered a judgement though in default against Mr Ekpenyong where he asked him to pay gov Udom Emmanuel a sum of N1.5 billion and I came before this court asking that, that judgement should be set aside having been delivered in error and in flagrant violation of right of my client to fair hearing because the date that judgement was given, no hearing notice was issued and the registrar gave that date off record. The court agreed with us that the right of our client was violated and set the case aside.

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“We are saying because you have already found the defendant guilty in this matter it is only just and fair that those matters should be reassigned to another Judge to be heard denovo, that is the practice my Lord, for example if the court of appeal has set aside a judgement and sends back the case to be tried before the lower court it usually goes with a consequential order that a new judge should handle that matter, so if the defendant said that he doesn’t have confidence in the honourable Chief Judge of the State to hear his case, it’s only fair that, the matter be reassigned to preserve the dignity, impartiality and honour of the court.

“All we are saying is that we do not have confidence in my Lord to interprete my matter.”

Irked by the submissions of the defence counsel and his (Mr Effiong) refusal to sit when the counsel to the Claimant, Samuel Ikpo asked him to do so, the Chief Judge said the court will not condone unruly behaviour in the courtroom, warning of her power to send him behind bars or petition him to the National body.

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According to Justice Obot, “You cannot say that before me, you can’t talk to your senior like that, I don’t know when this man learnt law. You are trying to intimidate your senior, did you see the type of counter you filed over miscellaneous matters I overlooked? I still set aside that judgement only for you to capitalize on it and you want to play on the intelligence of the court? Do not allow me to send you to prison!”

“Saying that when a matter is set aside that it must be reassigned to another Judge is not the practice, it is a lie from the pit of hell.”

The Judge, however, proceeded with the hearing of the witness of the Claimant and later adjourned the case to 27 to 29 July for conclusion of Claimant and hearing of defendants case as well as motions filed even when the defence counsel said the dates were not convenient for him insisting that the case was that of defamation and no urgency in it for accelerated hearing.

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Counsel to the Claimant, Mr Ikpo refused to talk to journalists at the end of the session insisting that the matter is sub judice.

READ ALSO: 2023: Why I Have No Regret Working For Abacha – Al-Mustapha

But, the defence counsel who spoke to journalists said, “what is worrisome is despite the tendency of the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court raising the issue of bias on the last date in this matter, my Lord allowed the claimant in the two cases to call witnesses even when the jurisdiction of the court is being challenged and those witnesses were called in my absence even when I told them that I missed my flight and we were not there to cross examine them, that was why yesterday we filed a motion to set aside the proceeding including the order for the continuation of hearing.

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“Even the proceedings of today were in error and should be set aside and I told the court that the motion should have been determined, my Lord did not determine the two motions and yet insisted that we continue with the hearing. We were basically forced to go into trial today.

“My Lord consistently has accused me of bringing a herbalist to court, how on earth will I do that? I’m not a traditional worshipper but a christian.”

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Nigerian Pastor Deletes Controversial Tweet Amid Backlash From Peter Obi’s Supporters

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Pastor Poju Oyemade, the founder of The Covenant Nation (formerly the Covenant Christian Center) has taken down a tweet that stirred controversy after it was interpreted by netizens as a bias political comment.

In a now-deleted tweet, Oyemade advised Nigerian youths not to “waste their enthusiasm on poorly planned projects“.

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However, the tweet was calculated by supporters of the Labour Party‘s presidential candidate, Peter Obi as an attempt to portray their candidate (Obi) as unprepared for the 2023 general election.

Other netizens who perceived the message as a veiled strategy to sell the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate and flagbearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu were equally angry.

Oyemade words, “Faith is not just blind belief or hoping for a miracle. Faith sees. Faith has her eyes opened and possesses the evidence upon which it builds its belief. Faith prepares long, sometimes for years just as Joseph did for the years of famine. Faith counts the cost before embarking.

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READ ALSO: JUST IN: Tinubu Speaks On Meeting Wike In Francr, PDP Crisis Deepens

“Without having real evidence upon which you are acting nor preparation for the task, recognising real obstacles that lie ahead and making concrete plans, one is just being delusional about the outcome. The enthusiasm of the youth must not be wasted on poorly planned projects.

“Noah spent months/years planning for the flood & he was operating in faith. Jesus said no man goes to battle without taking stock first nor lays the foundation of a tower without counting the cost first lest he will be mocked. Our faith is intelligent it doesn’t live in denial.”

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Reactions:

dedayo🇺🇦 (@AdeparusiA) Pastor Poju is one I hold in a very high esteem, however, I was deeply disappointed by that tweet, whether it’s directed to OBIdient fans or not. It’s really sad such is coming from him. #PeterObiTheNationalist #PeterObi4President2023 #PeterObiForPresident2023

Anyiobi #PeterObi (@Anyiobi2)
Pastor Poju is one I hold in a very high esteem, however, I was deeply disappointed by that tweet, whether it’s directed to OBIdient fans or not. It’s really sad such is coming from him. #PeterObiTheNationalist #PeterObi4President2023 #PeterObiForPresident2023

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Anyiobi #PeterObi (@Anyiobi2) J
The fact that Pastor Poju supported #Buhari in 2015 tells so much about his character! Let no one care about him! In #PeterObi we trust!

 

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How 1,130 Looted Benin Bronzes Got To Germany – FG

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The Federal Government says many of the1,130 looted Benin Bronzes to be repatriated to Nigeria from Germany got to German public institutions via trade and donations

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said this on Friday in Berlin during the signing of a historic joint declaration between Nigeria and Germany.

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The signing of joint declaration according to the minister, will pave the way for the return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria,

A statement issued on the ceremony in Berlin made available to newsmen in Abuja, said that Mohammed, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada signed for Nigeria.

READ ALSO: FG, Germany Sign Agreement On Return Of Benin Bronzes

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In the statement signed by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Ms Annalena Baerbock, and the Minister of State for Culture and Media, Ms. Claudia Roth, signed for Germany.

Adeyemi is the Special Assistant to the President (Media) Office of the Minister of Information and Culture

As contained in the statement, Mohammed said that Germany did not colonise Nigeria and was not part of the looting of the artefacts.

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The minister recalled that the artefacts were looted from the ancient Benin Kingdom during the Benin Expedition of 1897 by the British force.

Mohammed thanked the government and people of Germany for what he described as the ”single largest repatriation of artefacts anywhere in the world”.

”We also want to most sincerely thank the authorities of the various German regions, cities, museums and institutions that have been working in concert to ensure the manifestation of the history-making event that we are witnessing today.

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“By this singular action, Germany has taken the lead in correcting the wrongs of the past,” he said.

The minister said that Germany and the great people of the nation decided it was better to shape the future by correcting the ills of the past.

He said pace-setting action by the Federal Government of Germany would become a harbinger of more repatriation of cultural property to their place of origin.

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According to Mohammed, other museums and institutions are expected to take a cue from what Germany has done.

Germany has gained more friends in Nigeria and all over the world by returning to Nigeria what rightfully belongs to it,” he said.

On his part, Dada described Germany as the ‘champion of justice and fairness’.

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Also Speaking, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany said, ”It was wrong to take the (Benin) bronzes. It was wrong to keep them for (125 years). This is the beginning to right the wrong.”

READ ALSO: Benin Artefacts: Obaseki Bows, Promises Cooperation With Benin Palace

According to the statement, in a symbolic gesture signifying the impending return of the artefacts, two of the Benin Bronzes were handed over to Nigeria at the ceremony.

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The signing was witnessed by top Nigerian and German government officials, including the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Yusuf Tuggar, and the Director-General of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof. Abba Tijani.

 

 

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