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“You need continuity. You need a commitment and continuity” – Jeff Fisher

As the 2019 general elections approach, Abia State is agog as different groups and communities in the stat jostle among themselves to host and celebrate one of their brightest stars, known to some as the “Scholar in Governance”, to others as the “Silent Achiever” and, yet, to some others, as the “Caterpillar Revolutionist” for his many sides rolled into the singular vision of making Abia great and prosperous.

Following his sterling performance which has elicited joy and restored the hope of Abians in a bright future having left footprints of quality projects and strategic policies in the sand of time, it is only natural, and fitting, for Abians of different affiliations to send out a clarion call to the governor, first in appreciation, and then to remind him that under no circumstance would they allow him to abandon them halfway having brought them thus far in the journey towards growth and evidential development, hence, the dominating calls for him to respect their wish of leading the State till 2023.

Just like the American, Jeff Fisher said, Abians know that the State is in need of an uncommon commitment to their welfare, the type being shown by their governor, and have committed to support him all the way. But then, who wouldn’t?

Right from the day he assumed office, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu PhD, settled down to work immediately knowing full well that the expectations of the people were high and nothing short of excellent performance would satisfy their sweet souls and fill their gaping hope.

Ikpeazu therefore established critical areas of life which Abians needed urgent intervention in and set them as Development Pillars for his administration with the corresponding Enablers to achieve the set objectives.

Since no meaningful progress can be made in an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, the governor embarked on a head-on collision course with criminals in the state with the aim of ridding Abia of all violent crimes that had given the State a bad name. Before now, Abia had been known as a state where armed robbers kidnappers, rapists, cultists, ritualists etc found comfort. Some of these criminals even committed crimes in other states and fled to Abia to escape from the long arms of the law and or to enjoy proceeds of their illicit activities. This did not only make Abians sleep with one eye, it also made them sleep with their hearts in their mouths.

With Okezie Ikpeazu, this is now a thing of the past. With the peace and security enjoyed in Abia today, it is very easy for naysayers to forget where we were before Ikpeazu came on board and where we are today after he successfully tackled those name-spoiling crimes in a novel but aggressive manner within a short time of coming to power.

He invested massively in the security architecture of the State, procuring a massive 35 number operational vehicles fitted with modern communications gadgets to further equip the security agencies in the state. The uncommon adroitness with which he has been able to introduce and sustain synergy among the several security agencies operating in the state is another loud testimony to his human management skills.

In an official release by the National Bureau of Statistics last year for violent crime rates recorded in the country in 2016, Abia State recorded the second least rate only after Katsina. When one considers that this feat was achieved in just one year of his coming to power, one would appreciate the more why Abians are stumbling over themselves to get him to go for a second term. Safety first, safety always!

Similarly, in a widely publicized and comprehensive report by the Vanguard newspapers on March 11, 2018, it was recorded that in the first ten weeks of 2018, 1,351 people were murdered in one violent crime or the other throughout the federation. Of this sad number, Abia was among the few states throughout the federation that recorded one death, while a state like Anambra already had 18 deaths from violent crimes at this short time.

Abia has however since taken firm position as the safest state in the country following recent violent deaths in the states competing with her for this most coveted and enviable status while Ikpeazu has maintained the now impregnable security of the state.

Despite his sterling performance in this sector, Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu was not going to rest on his oars. On his return from Rwanda where he attended the 2018 Transform Africa Summit in May 2018, the governor immediately proceeded to hand over another set of brand new operational vehicles to the police in Umuahia, the state capital. To further boost the morale of the police as he continues to assist them in their duties, the governor promised to help them complete the building of their Zone 9 headquarters in Umuahia.

The safety, peace and security Abia is enjoying today are not accidental. They are the result of the continued commitment of the governor to the welfare of the people. That there are no political tensions in the state today is attributable to Ikpeazu’s very large heart that has tolerated with equanimity the continued bitter provocations of opposition elements. Abians are free and their rights respected to the letter by the governor no matter how belligerent and vitriolic the opposition has become against him in their desperate but futile attempts to distract him.

Abians cannot take for granted the fact that properties including radio stations and houses belonging to people of dissenting voices are being demolished with reckless abandon in other states thereby creating undue political tensions and giving root to crime and criminality, Ikpeazu has never and will never embark on such actions. (To be continued)

—jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; Twitter: @stjudendukwe

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COLUMNISTS

Lawyer raises alarm over N15 billion NDDC payments

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A legal practitioner, Mr. Godwin Ojeh, has lamented what he called corruption of self-enrichment in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Nigerian Senate , Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila to stop the payment of N15 billion to contractors.

‘’The Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission has thrown caution to the winds. It is about to pay for jobs not done. The committee is processing the payment of a whooping amount of N15billion on spurious contracts in the name of ‘’Desilting of Waterways’’.

He particularly decried the misappropriation in the management of the funds of the commission.

‘Is the 2020 budget of the commission ready? Where are they spending from? ’Recently, the Senate set up an ad hoc committee to probe the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over alleged mismanagement of N40billion. The Senate also requested for 2019 budgetary performance. The commission doesn’t have power to expend public money. There is no budgetary provision’’.

In a tone suggestive of his hatred for corruption, the Benin based lawyer asked the National Assembly and the executive arm of the government to stop the commission from wasting the country’s resources.

In a statement in Benin, Ojeh described the intention of the NDDC Interim Management Committee as ‘’a move that will endanger development of the region

‘’There is no greater danger to the development of the Niger Delta region than the payments for fictitious contracts’’ the statement said.

He also harped on the need for transparency in government organizations, saying ‘’it is necessary for the National Assembly and the executive arm of government to adopt a collective position on the allegation of corruption in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)’’.

 

Credit: Ebireri Henry Ovie

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COLUMNISTS

ABEOKUTA AND ITS PERENNIAL FLOODING: GOV. ABIODUN TO THE RESCUE

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By Elijah Udofia

Saturday, July 4, 2020, is a day the people of Abeokuta, particularly those living very close to the city’s waterways, would not forget in a hurry. Like in the days of Noah, the floodgates were opened and the showers came down heavily, causing floods of havoc that ravaged portions of the city. For somebody who was in the capital city of the Gateway State for the first time, the sight of flooded roads, with water subterranean enough to swim, floating household possessions, evacuated trees, washed way bridges and people congregating on high rise buildings, waiting for the water to recede, is something he or she will live to remember for a long time.

On that day, the heavens opened and brought with it sorrows, but thankfully, without blood. The torrential rain which started at about three in the morning did not stop until six in the evening, thereby thrashing hard on the ancient city for 16 good hours, non-stop. It is instructive to note that July of every year, has always been a period when the city experiences great flooding, occasion by torrential rain. Apart from the destruction of critical public infrastructures, mostly roads and bridges, it is always a time when those living close to the canals, have their hearts in their mouths. Hardly a year passes without these areas experiencing flooding which lead to loss of properties and in some cases, life or lives as the case may be.

The recent one affected mostly areas are; Isale-Oja, Kuto, Ago-Ijesha, Ijeun-Titun, Ijeja-Igbore road, Gbangba, Elite-Lantoro road and Oba Adeleye’s recreational park. One is however happy that areas like Ijaye and Isale-Igbein, which used to experience serious flooding had been taken care of, by the construction of Lafenwa, Sapon, Idi-Aba, Ajebo road and Onikolobo, Omida and Sapon road. It should be noted here that the issue of flooding in Abeokuta is not new, as previous governments, including military administrations, had course to contend with this menace. The presence of the Vice President, who came to inspect the extent of damage caused by flooding two years ago, is an indication that the issue is not a child’s play. What is disturbing however is that the damages caused are becoming more devastating, which calls for concern by all and sundry?

Being the head of a government that came to power on the popular mandate, the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, immediately the rain ceased on Sunday morning, ordered a team of government officials, led by the Environment Commissioner, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun took a tour of the areas affected by the flood and came up with a report to enable the government to respond accordingly.

As if that was not enough, the Governor, the following day, personally went round the affected areas to see things for himself. Prince Abiodun who was shocked due to the extent of damage caused not only to public assets, but to the property of the people, there and then, promised that his administration would assist them in mitigating the effect of their loss.

“I am here to look at the damage caused by the rain that fell on Saturday. Though I have sent my Commissioners and other government officials to inspect the damages, I decided to also come and see things for myself. I am happy that no life was lost, though you lost properties.

“I want to assure all of you who lost property to the flood that we will support you. In a few days’ time, government officials will come to see you to take down your names and properties affected, so that we can look at how to compensate you”.

On what the government intends to do to settle the matter once and for all, Prince Dapo Abiodun said the dredging of the canal that crisscrosses the State capital was on-going, while clearing of refuse in the gutters, was also carried out. He then informed the people that the government has assessed the damage caused to the roads and bridges with a view to carry out a comprehensive and proper channelization of the waterways.

“I want to assure you that we will repair the damaged roads, expand the gutters and bridges so that when rain falls, the gutters and the bridges would be able to accommodate the large volume of water. With this, the problem of erosion would be a thing of the past”, he promised

Governor Abiodun attributed flooding in the State capital to rapid development, besought the people to desist from dumping refuse or building structures on the waterways as these also contributed to the flooding. Collaborating the position of the Governor on the ways to find permanent solution to the menace of flooding in the State, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun, noted that regular dredging of the waterways, converting some old culverts to bridges as well as delisting drainages to allow free flow of water will be done by the government.

The Commissioner disclosed that dredging is currently going on at Isale-Oja to Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library up to Orange Valley View Estate, adding that the government is not only looking at Abeokuta alone, as dredging is also ongoing in 16 places across the State. Though the government ultimate goal is to find a permanent solution to the problem, in the meantime, a temporary arrangement according to the Commissioner, was going on at the sites, as allowing the affected areas to remain unattended to, will adversely affect the socio-economic well-being of people and adds to their suffering. The Commissioner appealed to residents of the State to properly dispose of their refuse and desist from dumping them on waterways, to minimize the effects of flooding.

For Alhaji Bello Mohammed, Secretary, Isale-Oja, Kuto, Community Development Association, his community has been experiencing flooding on a yearly basis in the last 10 years. He opined that proper channelization of the canal with an adequate drainage system, would bring an end to the flooding. Also, Mrs. Abike Awosanya and Abideen Musibau, residents of Ago-Ijesha, in Abeokuta South Local Government, said that they want the government to urgently find lasting solution to the flood problem, as it has affected their means of livelihood and make life unbearable for them.

Also bearing his mind, Mr. Raphael Anthony, a motorcyclist, who plied Ijaye-Kuto route, appealed to the State government to regularly dredge the waterways and expand the drainages system as the existing ones can no longer accommodate large volumes of water, during heavy rain. More so, Mrs. Florence Adegbite, an apprentice hairstylist at Ijeun Titun, opined that, “from what I am seeing, I think the State government would need help, particularly from the Federal government to permanently address this problem, a huge amount of money will be involved.

Though Government has a big role to play in bringing an end to the flooding issue, l observed with pain that the actions and inactions of the people are not helping in this regard. A walk through the State capital, one will see the non-challant attitude of the people as they dump refuse even at places where they are not supposed to.

Some simple questions I would like to ask are, what is refuse doing on road medians? Why do people turn gutters, drainages which are supposed to carry water to the canal, to refuse dumpsites? Why do people find it difficult to clear gutters, even those in front of their houses? And most importantly, why do people build structures on waterways that were invented/constructed to serve as drains to the river. All these questions need urgent answers, if the problem of flooding in Abeokuta, is to be addressed.

Now that Governor Dapo Abiodun’s government is showing commitment by putting in place measures that will permanently solve the problem of perennial flooding in the capital city, it is imperative for citizens to also play their parts, because as the African saying goes, “one cannot clap with one hand”.

Udofia, Head of the Governor’s Press Crew, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

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AREGBESOLA COMES TO JUDGMENT

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www.securenigeria365.com
By: Femi Adesina
Wednesday June 10, 2020, was ‘judgment day’ for Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola.
Incidentally, the day had broken with stories of denials of rift between him and his political mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former two-term Governor of Lagos State, and National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC).
The APC had outlawed all party sub-groups in Lagos, where Aregbesola had his political foundations, and still maintains a stranglehold, despite having been a two-term Governor in Osun State.
The buzz was that the Minister was possibly eyeing the Presidency in 2023, a diadem also reportedly coveted by his mentor, so the rug had to be pulled off under his feet early enough. Frost followed. Cold War, said the rumor mills.
Strident denials came from the Tinubu and Aregbesola camps. And it was mere distraction for the Minister, as he had a huge assignment ahead of him on that same Wednesday. It was his turn to brief the Federal Executive Council, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, on his stewardship, since assuming office in August last year.
Called Ministerial Performance Report, it was something instituted last year to receive regular feedbacks from Ministers, to judge whether they were complying with the spirit and letters of the mandates handed over to them when they were sworn in 10 months ago. It is something like a peer review session, in which the President, the Vice President, and all members of the Federal cabinet would listen, dissect, interrogate, applaud or bash the Minister reporting, depending on performance.
It is usually like judgment day, in which a man gives account of his works, and he either hears, “well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master,” or he is told; “depart from me, you worker of iniquity.”
The Ministry of Interior exists to foster and ensure the maintenance of internal security, public safety and citizenship integrity, for the promotion of good governance of the nation.
There are four main agencies and a Board under the supervision of the Ministry. They are: Nigerian Correctional Service (formerly Prisons Service), Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Fire Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, and Civil Defence, Correctional, Fire and Immigration Services Board.
Now, it is very easy for citizens to live their lives, and not be mindful of these agencies. They just take them for granted, reckoning that they must just be there. But after listening to the performance report of the Minister, one comes to grasp with the reality that they do make a lot of difference in the lives of the citizenry. Without them being efficiently there, lives would be a lot worse. Nasty, brutish and short.
Do you know that the Ministry of Interior is vested with ensuring timely processing of permits for those coming to the country to establish businesses? Possibly not. Do you also know that the Ministry processes expatriate quota in line with the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business? It equally is vested with easing of tourist visa, biometric visa at all entry points into the country, and many others.
So, how well has the Ministry fared in 10 months? The Cabinet listened, as Aregbesola reeled out the achievements, agency after agency.
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Which was why the Minister took the key officers of all the agencies to a resort in Ilesa, Osun State, early in the year. The purpose was a Strategy Retreat aimed at aligning mandate delivery.
Within five months last year, the Federal Fire Service responded to 2,615 fire calls, saved 724 lives and assets worth N1.629 trillion across the country. We take things like this for granted, don’t we? May we never see the fury of fire, as it ravenously devours everything in sight with its furious tongues.
At least 3,000 Custodial Centers are under construction and in various stages of completion in the six geo-political zones of the country. It would assuage the problem of congestion to a large extent.
Custodial Farm Centers have been reactivated round the country for large scale agricultural production in piggery, fishing, cattle rearing and poultry. Tractors and harvesters have been procured to facilitate the work, and contribute to food security in the country. Trust President Buhari, any opportunity to feed Nigerians, he utilizes.
There’s rehabilitation program, aimed at reducing the rate of recidivism (that’s big vocabulary, which means going to jail again and again) by engaging inmates in both vocational and entrepreneurial initiatives.
About 1,000 inmates were enrolled for the 2020 WAEC/NECO examinations, while the number of study centers of the National Open University of Nigeria have been increased to 10 across Custodial Centers.
The Border Management Strategy (BMS) has begun, and is being implemented at all international airports in the country. Management Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) is now deployed at all air borders. Very easy to fish out anyone with criminal records from anywhere in the world, attempting to enter the country.
Nigerian passports can now be applied for online, while there’s also Visa-On-Arrival with biometric features at all air borders.
At the social end, the statutory marriage process has been automated to make things easier. Young people must marry, mustn’t they?
The Federal Fire Service is now present in all states of the country, with 28 newly procured fire engines deployed.
Six new fire service training schools have been established across the geo-political zones to cater for human capital development needs.
Over 5,000 officers of the Civil Defence have been deployed to protect IDP camps, and re-occupy liberated towns and villages in the North-East.
The Ministry has trained and deployed over 1,500 personnel as Agro-Rangers in Yobe and Adamawa states, to protect farmers and their farms. This will eventually go round the country as required.
And many more.
Minister Aregbesola took questions, made explanations, gave clarifications, and it was obvious that council members were satisfied.
No wonder when the meeting was over, his well starched white Agbada billowed in the wind, as he left the Presidential Villa.
*Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari
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