Ihedioha: Rebuilding a Devastated State in Spite of Distractions
The former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has in his first 100 days in office tried to position himself as a man who is on a mission to reposition the state.
He has tried to sustain the trust and confidence the citizens reposed in him with their votes in the March 9, 2019, gubernatorial election in the state.
Truth be told, Ihedioha, on May 29, 2019, inherited a state that for eight years reeled under bad leadership and weird policies by the immediate past administration. There are also allegations of wide-scale looting of public treasury carried out by the Rochas Okorocha’s administration as well as a legacy of poorly -constructed buildings, bridges, roads and other infrastructure scattered across the state that the past administration claimed to have built with humongous amount of monies, which now need urgent attention to ensure public safety.
Nevertheless, the manner in which the Ihedioha-led administration has been going about the probe into the activities of the immediate past administration might end up being a distraction to the government.
Governance and Workers’ Welfare
Immediately after his inauguration, Ihedioha set up a Transition Technical Committee (TTC), which worked and provided the guiding template for what he described as his rebuilding Imo project. The TTC comprised some of the best intellectuals, technocrats and professionals. They provided the framework for the administration. Ihedioha believes that for the government to effectively deliver the dividends, it must have the right human capital in various ministries, departments and agencies in the state. The state government disclosed that its civil servants now receive full salaries while it revealed that verification of pensioners, who were last paid in 2015, would soon be completed.
Also, in line with the 100-day celebration, the governor recently announced the commencement of the rehabilitation of 16 major roads in the three senatorial zones of the state.
The governor’s Special Assistant on Research, Ogubundu Nwadike, said the state government had recorded over 20 accomplishments in its first 100 days.
As one of the cardinal points of his administration, Ihedioha in the last 100 days has established an independent power agency, otherwise called Imo State Power and Rural Electrification Agency (I-POREA) to light up communities. The bill for the setting up of the agency has been passed by the Imo State House of Assembly and signed into law by the governor. The I-POREA bill was the eight executive bill signed by the governor within the first 100 days of his administration.
According to the Director General of the agency, Dr. Albert Ogugua Okorogu, who was until recently, the Executive Director, Networks, Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Limited, the special purpose vehicle for Nigeria National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP), due to the importance of electricity to drive the small and medium-scale industries and to boost the state economy that the governor decided to place premium of power.
According to him, over 700 communities in the state do not have electricity for the past eight years and therefore to break the shackles of darkness across and promote SMEs in the state, the governor wants to spur the economy of the state.
Okorogu maintained the need to use waste-to-power (WTP) as source of renewable energy would help to solve the epileptic power supply in the state.
“The governor, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, wants to provide power to the rural dwellers that are denied the national grid to power their enterprises”, he said.
He assured investors that the state is not interested to exploit but to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, so that both government and investors would benefit.
As stated earlier, Ihedioha must not allow his desire to review the activities of the immediate past administration to overshadow his pledge to rebuild Imo State. While this writer is not against the idea to probe the past administration, the governor must understand that he has less than 1,300 days to the end of this administration and so should occupy himself more with activities that would transform the state. Imo has a lot of bad roads, both in the state capital and the rural communities which he must take steps to address. Ada Palm Nigeria Limited, a plantation for palm kernel cultivation and production located in the Ohaji/Egbema area of the state used to be a source of employment in the state until it was damaged by the Okorocha administration. If given the desired attention, the facility can be used as a plank for the diversification of the state’s economy and revenue base.
Buni: Staying the Course of His Predecessor
Having been diligently following the progress the state was making before he came on board, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni knew that all he needed to do upon his election and swearing-in was to sustain and build on the legacy of his predecessor, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam. And this he is doing religiously.
Though the people of the state feel that 100 days are not enough to measure how he has fared, it is a sign of what to expect as his administration progresses.
One area that is dear to the governor’s heart is security and protecting the people. Having on many occasions been victims of Boko Haram attacks, and the fact that the state shares boundary with Borno State, the theatre of Boko Haram insurgency, the governor hardly sleeps with his two eyes closed. To checkmate the insurgency, the governor has been motivating security agencies by donating equipment such as communication gadgets, patrol vehicles and allowances, among others, to boost their morale. Local vigilance groups are also on the state payroll to assist the security agencies in securing the state.
The governor set out his task on this path as few weeks into his administration, he declared a state of emergency on primary and secondary education, which he believes would shape the education sector and its products. By July 1, 2019, a month after the declaration, there was an education summit in the state, where experts, parents, traditional rulers, administrators and other concerned professionals gathered to meet minds on the state of education in the state and proffer solutions. The summit gave birth to a working committee, called the Technical Committee, which will chart a path for the rejuvenation of education in the state. After working for several weeks, and visiting many schools with talks to relevant stakeholders, the committee came up with recommendations, which the governor has approved.
Many are now on the lookout for an improved education sector.
In the area of agriculture, the governor is moving to review the sector with a plan to hold another “Yobe Agricultural Retreat” from the 16th to 19th of September 2019, where stakeholders will be assembled with the aim of tapping from their wealth of experiences as the governor plans to build agriculture to a viable industry.
The governor has dedicated a large part of his first 100 days in office to planning, strategising and soliciting counsel on government policies.
He has ordered the sale of fertiliser to farmers at affordable rates. In conjunction with the local government councils, he has also procured 100 tractors for use by farmers.
Buni has entered into a partnership agreement with a housing finance firm called Family Homes Funds Ltd to build 3,600 low-income housing units across all the 17 local governments of the state. Having struck the deal, to show that the project is real, the foundation of the houses has been laid and apart for provision of shelter, the construction is expected to create thousands of jobs.
The governor, in another partnership deal with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, has embarked on the building of a modern trailer park in Potiskum, the commercial nerve centre of the state. The trailer park, which has already been allotted 50 hectares of land, will be built under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement. The park will also have a mechanic’s village, hotels, fuel stations, among others and is projected to create over 5,000 direct jobs.
Buni is also said to be exploring a partnership with the Sukuk Fund to build the first modern market in Damaturu. And he has the ambition of replicating this in Potiskum, Gashu’a, Nguru, Gaidam and Buni-Yadi towns.
Work is equally ongoing in the area of road construction and rehabilitation.
The governor is reported to be looking beyond the shores of Nigeria for collaboration in developing the state. He is collaborating with the Kingdom of Morocco and entities in that country for youth empowerment as he plans to bring the wealth of the North African country in embroidery, and traditional wears to the state. The plan is to train Yobe youths in arts and crafts to support them to become self-reliant.
Many of the governor’s plans may be at infant stage but things are definitely looking up.
Sanwo-Olu: Delivering on Promise of Greater Lagos
After the tumultuous exit from office of his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, the task of resetting Lagos State, the economic nerve centre on the country, was a task only someone prepared for the job will embrace smiling. And the new governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has not disjointed anyone to a large extent. As a matter of fact, the governor hit the ground running from day one. On the morning of May 30, 2019, an important meeting was held at Government House in Lagos. Sanwo-Olu, who was sworn in less than 24 hours earlier, arrived hours early to prepare for this all-important meeting, which was his first major task in office.
The result of the meeting was the signing of an executive order, which fired a volley at three major problems facing Lagos: Sanitation, traffic congestion and infrastructure.
Over the past 100 days, Sanwo-Olu has shown promise and raised the hope of many Lagosians who had given in to despair. As promised during his electioneering, the list of cabinet members has been delivered by the governor to the state House of Assembly for consideration, roads are being renovated across the state, drainages are being cleaned up, schools are being evaluated to bring them in tandem with the demands of the 21st Century and Lagos is cleaner.
Indeed, the last 100 days have seen Sanwo-Olu traversing Lagos in a bid to deliver on his promise to Lagosians. No doubt, the task of setting Lagos on the path of sustainable development remains daunting, but there is an air of hope and early signs of steady progress.
For instance, Lagos was neck-deep in dirt and filth when Sanwo-Olu took over, but less than two months after, the state is much cleaner. The last 100 days have seen Sanwo-Olu intervene in strategic areas that were highlighted in his intervention blueprint, a plan, which is designed to deliver a “greater Lagos.”
Health and Environment
On September 3, 2019, just 97 days after the governor was sworn into office, he inaugurated a 110-bed Maternal and Child Centre (MCC) at Ajah, Eti-Osa Local Council Development Area (LCDA), a testament to his commitment to health care, maternal health and children.
But beyond buildings and rehabilitation of infrastructure, the state government has taken some bold steps to directly intervene in areas of concern and pressing needs in the health sector. In the first week of August 2019, it flagged off Free Medical Mission targeted at 21,000 children and adults in partnership with the Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu/Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat (BOSKOH) Lagos Healthcare Mission International. The medical mission is part of efforts to improve the quality of health of Lagosians, especially children.
Interestingly, over 21,000 people were screened at seven centres over a period of six days under the programme. Also, 802 residents have successfully undergone pediatric eye surgery, adult eye surgery, pediatric surgery, dental surgery, orthopaedic surgery and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgery. Another 615 persons booked for various surgeries, making it a total of 1,417 free surgeries carried out through the health mission.
The environment has also received attention because it is an enabler of good health. The governor has prioritised sanitation, drainages and beautification. He directed the Office of Drainage Service in the Ministry of the Environment to commence aggressive clearing of all secondary and tertiary drainage systems across the state to ensure the free flow of rain water during the rainy season, few days after he was sworn in.
As part of measures to improve the environment and living conditions, the governor inaugurated the Igando Housing Estate started by former Governor, Babatunde Fashola, under the Lagos Homes Ownership Mortgage Scheme last Tuesday. Sanwo-Olu, who led members of the State Executive Council to open the 492-flat housing project, said he prioritised the completion of the estate to recover state resources committed to the project.
Traffic Management and Transportation
The first step Sanwo-Olu took to curb the terrible traffic congestion in Lagos was to immediately address road infrastructure. Although this remains work in progress, at least 105 roads have received facelift in the last 100 days.
The list of roads includes the 7km-Agric-Ishawo-Konu-Asolo-road, Coker Road, Ilupeju-Mushin, Ketu Roundabout-Epe by Oke-Osho inward Ketu Epe, lkotun lgando road by lgando Community Junior Secondary School to College Road Junction, Aromire Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos-Badagry Expressway as well as Pen-Cinema Bridge. All of these roads, among many others, have either been paved and remodeled, upgraded or received remedial upgrade. These exercises have touched several parts of the state from Badagry to Lagos Island, from Epe to Ikorodu.
Education and Technology
Sanwo-Olu promised to increase budgetary allocation for education from 12.07% to 18% to accommodate STEM education statewide. He has already demonstrated his commitment to that promise. A comprehensive assessment of schools in Lagos is ongoing with the purpose of determining the immediate needs of the institutions so as to properly budget. Last Tuesday, a 12-block classroom for Junior Secondary School was unveiled for use at Ajah, Eti-Osa Local Council Development Area (LCDA).
Beyond infrastructure, the administration will soon hire trained teachers to strengthen quality of education in its schools. According to the governor, the administration will spare no effort at ensuring quality teaching in all state-owned schools. The goal is to establish 300 fully equipped and functional computer laboratories in secondary schools across Lagos while imbibing long term maintenance culture.
The ultimate goal is to develop an educational system that can provide skills that will meet the needs of the 21st Century economy. This is being done by prioritising STEM education, technology adoption and adoption of trainings related to artificial intelligence.
While THEME is designed to drive economic resurgence and create jobs, Sanwo-Olu has taken steps to stimulate economic growth and drive development. Last Wednesday, the governor launched ‘LSETF W-INITIATIVE,’ an initiative designed to provide funding for women entrepreneurs in Lagos to achieve their growth objectives and create jobs for young people.
The initiative is a special intervention fund contributed between the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund and Access Bank Plc, to provide access to affordable finance for female-owned businesses. It is set to target between 5,000 and 10,000 women drawn from across the state.
Roads and Infrastructure
One critical area Lagosians want the governor to improve is roads and decaying infrastructure. As a matter of fact, most Lagos roads have totally collapsed. For instance, the Isolo-Ejigbo road has totally failed with commuters spending hours on the road.
Mushin-Idi Oro and Olosha has also failed. So also is Ipaja Road, Badagry road and most intercity roads. Stakeholders have therefore called on the governor to take urgent steps to fix the roads to reduce the pains and agonies that commuters are subjected to daily on roads, which qualify to be described as death traps.
Matawalle: In Pursuit of a Secured State
The biggest headache for Zamfara State Governor, Mohammed Bello Matawalle, is how to restore peace and security to the state. Matawalle, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governor, who assumed office after the Supreme Court nullified votes cast for the All Progressives Congress (APC) because the party failed to conduct primary elections for all candidates in the state, has continued to explore all options to make sure the state is permanently secured. He has in the last 100 days displayed determination to stem the tide of crime and criminality in Zamfara State.
For him, the security of lives and properties ought to be the overriding pre-occupation of everyone in the state, which is why he has been appealing for the cooperation and support of everyone in the state since he assumed office, in his quest to end criminality in the state.
“We cannot fold our hands and watch terror attacks and kidnappings envelop the once most peaceful state in the whole federation,” he stressed.
Owing to this unfortunate development, Matawalle and two other northern states governors Aminu Masari of Katsina, and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, recently signed a jointly Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Governor of Maradi Region in Niger Republic on best approaches to addressing the security challenges in their domains.
The Governor celebrated his 100 days in office with the official foundation-laying of Ruga settlement. He disclosed that his government would spend N8.631 billion for the construction of modern Ruga settlements in the state. Matawalle, said each of the three pilot Ruga settlements, which would be situated in each of the three senatorial districts, would cost N2.877 billion. According to him, each settlement will be fitted with 210 two and three bedroom houses, western and Islamiyya schools, earth dams, grazing land and mosques. Other facilities to be provided will include police stations, 130 shops and mini markets, livestock markets, diary collection and social centres, roads and drainages among others. According to the governor, the activity would also witness medical outreach to both Fulanis and their animals throughout the state.
Also, in his first 100 days in office, the Zamfara State government under the leadership of Matawalle and the Afreximbank, signed a deal to support the industrialisation of the state. Under the agreement, the bank would invest the $1 billion with no counterpart funding from the government. The Governor listed areas the memorandum of understanding would cover to include solid minerals, agriculture, textile development, healthcare, airport construction and power generation. Matawalle, further said the government would ensure diligence, due process and accountability in implementing the agreement. He noted that improvement in the state economy would translate to more internal revenue and more job opportunities for the youths.
He, however, said Zamfara government would provide the enabling environment for investors expected to tap from the fund. During the signing ceremony, Matawalle expressed confidence that the agreement would soon change Zamfara State to an enviable economically developed role model in Nigeria and Africa.
Also, in his first 100 days in office, Matawalle disclosed plan to commence construction work on the Gusau Airport project. He said the airport project was one of the several projects to be executed under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), arrangement for which the $1 billion was approved by Afreximbank. According to him, the arrangement would not cost the state government any money, explaining that the state government would only ensure the provision of a conducive environment for the smooth execution of the project. He advised the contractors handling the project to source their labourers and the building materials locally.
“We have the manpower you will need. Our engineers will join your workers so that a qualitative job will be executed in record time,” the governor said.
Considering the present challenges in the state, there is need for all stakeholders and groups to support efforts to restore peace in the state.