Saturday, December 19, 2009

Edo 2010 Budget Is About The People - Oshiomhole

Mr. Speaker,

Honourable Members of Edo State House of Assembly

I am pleased by the opportunity to present The 2010 Budget Estimates for Edo State for the consideration of the Honourable House. May I start by placing on record my appreciation to Mr. Speaker and the Honourable Members for your cooperation towards the implementation of the 2009 Budget in particular, and in general, for your overall support. By and large, both the Executive and Legislature have struck a right chord in managing the challenges of the New Beginning in Edo State.
Certainly, there have been occasional tensions between the both arms. These institutional frictions are not unusual even in mature democracies.

The challenge of leadership across both arms is to ensure that the development agenda is placed over and above party loyalties or institutional chauvinism. I am happy that in Edo State, we have managed to forge consensus substantially around a common quest to reposition the machinery of government to deliver accelerated development to our people.
Our people legitimately expect so much from government, that as leaders, we cannot afford not to meet their yearnings. On my part, I wish to assure the Honourable House of my continuing partnership, which is founded on my belief that all arms of government must function in synergy on behalf of, and in the interest of the people.

A review of the 2009 Budget Performance
In Year 2009, we proposed a total of N44.97 billion recurrent revenue, made up of N29.77 billion from the federation account and N15.2 billion internally generated revenue. As at the end of October 2009, the total recurrent revenue was N36.45 billion. Of this amount, the revenue from the federation account stood at about N25.07billion, representing about 84% of our projected recurrent revenue for the year.

The internally generated revenue for the same period stood at about N6.39 billion representing about 50% of our IGR projections for the same period. We envisage that the IGR figure will attain N7.67 billion at the end of the year. The IGR increased by an average of 57.7% over the year 2008. This is one of the highest increases in IGR attained in the country in one fiscal year.
In the year 2009, we projected a total sum of about N6.0 billion as capital receipt derivable from value added tax. As at October 2009, we have realised a total sum of N4.11 billion as VAT representing about 82.20% of the projection from VAT for the period.

From the foregoing, it would seem that the performance of the total recurrent revenue was substantially realised. However, the truth is that we must continue our efforts to reduce our dependence on external sources. It is worth repeating that we cannot afford to tie the development of our State to revenue from unpredictable external sources.

2009 Recurrent Expenditure Performance
The total recurrent expenditure projection for 2009 was N34.01 billion made up of N17.35 billion as personnel cost, N9.26 billion - overhead cost and N7.4 billion consolidated revenue fund charges. As the end of the third quarter, actual total recurrent expenditure stood at N19.14 billion, which includes personnel cost of 10.89 billion, overhead cost of N4.95 billion and N3.29 billion consolidated revenue fund charges.

From the foregoing, total annualised recurrent expenditure for 2009 will amount to N25.52 billion. The import of this is that we have saved N8.48 billion from the total recurrent expenditure, notwithstanding the increase in the wage bill arising from fresh employments. I am happy to confirm that of this amount, my government has spent N6.05 billion as total overhead costs as at the end of October, compared to N10.6 billion expended by Prof Osunborís Administration over the same period in 2008. This represents a net saving of almost N5 billion.

Highlights of Implementation of the 2009 Budget
Mr. Speaker, in the course of the year, I have shared with you from time to time, much of the progress and challenges regarding the 2009 Budget. As you recall, it was a Budget of a New Beginning, which was designed to provide the foundation for our agenda of re-inventing people-driven governance in Edo State.

The budget took into account the harsh international, national and local political economic environment. As may be recalled, this administration assumed stewardship at a time of a severe global economic meltdown. The crisis was characterised by a sharp drop in global commodity prices, including crude oil, which is the main source of the countryís revenue. The immediate impact on Edo State was a drop in the monthly statutory allocation in the first quarter of the year, to almost half of what obtained in the same quarter of the preceding year.

The situation was compounded by our own local peculiarity, which was the wanton depletion of allocations received by the previous office-holders as well as the accumulation of a high debt profile, in the form of approved but unpaid vouchers and huge bank loan, which amounted to about N10 billion. Secondly, the State was widely acknowledged to have suffered from neglect, especially in the areas of infrastructure. Yet, we were confronted with an overwhelming popular expectation within and beyond Edo State. Thus, the conditions under which we assumed stewardship was entirely inauspicious.

However, with the support of the generality of Edo people, my government proceeded with cautious speed, with a strong will to confront vested interests, a new, creative and people-driven approach to development planning and above all, a constructive interface with the people. The 2009 budget, which was christened a budget of a new beginning, exemplified this new spirit.

It encapsulated a new development blueprint that addresses diverse objectives. Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that we made substantial progress in the implementation of the core objectives and priorities of the 2009 Budget. I will proceed to highlight some of the key areas of our budget performance.

In my 2009 budget address, I had enunciated a need for proper and detailed planning. As I had argued in my address last year, we need to avoid the typical quantitative and publicity-driven approach to project execution. Therefore, we devoted much attention, resources and executive time to planning. For instance, in our approach to roads and flooding control, we undertook a detailed study and the generation of a new & comprehensive flood control master plan. This has paid off because we were able to identify and commence intervention projects based on informed knowledge, appropriate project designs and realistic bills of quantity. I appreciate the initial anxieties across the state over what was misconstrued as the slow pace of governance. However, I was convinced that it was necessary to adopt a holistic, knowledge-driven and planning-based approach, even at the risk of being misunderstood in the short-term by those who would rather prefer quick fix solutions and the rule of the thumb.

Furthermore, we have substantially improved the capacity of Edo State to resource her development through a substantial increase in the internally generated revenue. From a monthly average of about N300 Million at the end of the preceding year, we have raised IGR in the second half of the year to a monthly average of about N800 Million.

The increase in IGR was attained and sustained through our aggressive drive to block leakages, exploring new vistas in revenue-generation, strengthening the PAYE collection and widening the tax net beyond the formal sector through a progressive system that puts more responsibility on the rich. However, the ultimate strategy in our arsenal was the support of Edo people and their willingness to make sacrifice, once they were convinced about the genuineness of our intentions and knowing that their money would be in safe hands. Let me again thank the people of Edo State for their continuing support.

Of course, the current IGR profile is far lower than what we require in order to re-create Edo State. Therefore, we will strengthen the IGR machinery using modern ICT technology and other procedures. Above all, we will intensify the criminal prosecution of tax defaulters in the revenue courts, which will be strengthened in the 2010 fiscal year. One of the lessons we have learnt from the global response to the meltdown is that public authorities must be creative and aggressive in raising income through taxation, in order to finance recovery and development.

Consistent with our budget objective of fiscal prudence, we have eliminated much wastage in public expenditure management and have adopted a culture of prudence. This tight expenditure control enabled us to save N14 Billion within eight months to finance a wide range of capital projects, mostly roads across the State. This savings was made without undermining our recurrent obligations, particularly salaries, which had even increased because of the massive employment we carried out concurrently. Yet some other state governments are either retrenching or are owing workers and pensioners, while we have faithfully honoured our wage and pension obligations, latest by the 25th of each month.

In general fiscal governance, especially in procurement and contract-award, our government has conformed to global best practices as I did promise in my 2009 budget address. The Edo State Tenders Boards has been re-focused to ensure value for money, competitiveness, competence and capacity to deliver in the choice of contractors and consultants. In the 2010 fiscal year, we will insist that these values be carried through the entire public sector. Towards this, we are working with the World Bank to create a service-wide procedure for attaining value for money, prudence and transparency.

The challenge is for all arms of government is to key into this reform of public finance management, so that together, we can curb waste and confront corruption. We need to appreciate that as trustees of public funds, we are expected to demonstrate the highest level of integrity, fiscal responsibility and fiscal competence.

Mr. Speaker, we have carefully avoided the pitfall of the past, which was to spread resources too thinly over virtually all the traditional budget heads, in a way that undermined the capacity of government to make real impact in any area. In this regard, this administration has spent over 60% of the capital budget on the three priority areas of:
i. Roads;
ii. Flooding and Erosion control; and
iii. primary and junior secondary education.
The State Government now has the Benin Storm Water Master Plan based on which we can plan properly for dealing with the perennial flooding and erosion in the City. Within the period, we have also cleared blocked drainages and large sections of the Benin Moat, which has substantially mitigated the impact of the heavy rains.

Based on proper designs and the Storm water master plan, this administration has awarded contracts for the construction of the following road projects in Benin City:

• Two construction of additional service lanes on the Oluku-Ugbowo-Uselu-Dawson-Akpapkava Road Junction;
• The dualisation of the Airport Road
• The dualisation of Sapele Road
• The expansion of Akpakpava Road
• The expansion of Uselu-New Lagos Road-Akpakpava Road Junction
• The Five Junction and adjoining streets
• The dualisation of Siloko Road
• The Expansion of the Oba Market Road
• Dawson Road
• Stadium Road
• 2nd West Circular
• Costain-Isonoro Road
• The construction of primary drainage structure in Upper Siluko Road Area (Teachers House Area).
The road projects are based on proper designs that would ensure durability and functionality, while the contractors we have selected are reputable players in the construction industry.

My government has completed the award of contracts for construction of roads across the three senatorial districts.

We have also commenced the beautification of the Kingís Square and the rehabilitation and clearing of illegal structures along the adjoining roads, including Sakponba, Mission Road, Akpakpava Road, Airport Road and Oba Market Road. The immediate impact is the easier flow of traffic and the attainment of an aesthetic appeal befitting a 21st century capital city. The transformation of the King’s Square from a den of chaos into an organised and beautiful city centre is a metaphor for what Edo State can and must become with proper planning and collective resolve.

Furthermore, we have completed the rehabilitation of 32 roads in Benin City:
• Akenzua street
• Dawson Road
• Wire road
• Aideyan Street
• Benoni Street
• Omorodion
• College Road
• Agadagudu
• Boundary Road
• Uwa Street by 2nd East Circular
• Universal-Oghobaghase-Technical College Roads
• Giwa Amu
• Jemide
• Akhionbare
• Ihama road
• New Lagos road by Eghosa/Okhoro Road
• Okhoro Road
• St Saviour
• Oko Central
• Uwelu Road by Texaco
• Upper Mission
• Upper Sakponba Road by Welfare
• Ogida
• Orle river Bridge
• Ekenwan
• Ehakpen
• 5 Junction
• Mission
• Forestry
• Delta Crescent
• Adolor College road junction
• Kingís Square
• Airport Road

With respect to our third priority area, primary and post primary education, we encountered serious political bottlenecks. This prevented this administration from accessing the UBE facility required to finance the massive rehabilitation of schools in the 18 local governments, as originally planned. Having failed to access the federal component of the UBE Grant because of non-confirmation of my nominees into the SUBEB, we have now withdrawn the Edo State contribution, in order to address part of the problems the fund was meant to solve. Accordingly, we have awarded contracts for the supply of furniture to primary and secondary schools, as well as for the renovation of some premier schools across the three senatorial districts.
Mr Speaker, we have commenced new projects in the areas of health, which had long been neglected. In order to ensure State-wide implementation of this administrationís policy of free antenatal and post-natal care, we have awarded contracts for new antenatal clinics in the Benin, Auchi and Uromi central hospitals as well as for the renovation of labour and maternity wards in all 34 general hospitals in the three senatorial districts.

Related to our efforts in the health sector is the provision of portable water supply. In this regard, we have procured two heavy-duty drilling rigs. This will assist the drilling of boreholes, especially in parts of the State where the water table is very low. A major project embarked upon is the completion of the Upper Sakponba Water Scheme in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area. At the moment, there are 127 ongoing water projects, especially in rural communities across the State.

Security has remained a major challenge. One of the steps we have taken is the establishment of joint military and police outfit, known as Operation Thunderstorm. We have procured vehicles and have recently placed orders for communication and other logistics to empower Operation Thunderstorm to function effectively in combating organised crime, especially armed robbery and kidnapping. Already, it has recording major successes in the battle against kidnapping and has helped to check the menace of armed robberies. This is in addition to the funding and logistic support we have continued to give Police and military formations across the State.

Mr. Speaker, a well-acknowledged impact of the 2009 budget is in the area of sustainable livelihood through the creation of direct employment and the funding of a mass coverage micro-credit scheme. We have created 6,880 new jobs in the public sector. In partnership with the Bank of Industry, we have created a micro-credit scheme targeted at the lower income segment of the informal sector. This will positively affect the lives of many families and stimulate economic activities at the grassroots.

The ongoing capital projects, especially the beautification projects, have also created hundreds of new jobs and more economic opportunities, especially for small businesses.

With the lifting of a ten-year embargo on employment in the State, we have taken steps towards redressing the severe understaffing of public institutions, especially schools, hospitals and ministries.
In 2009 fiscal year, we took bold and sustained steps to address the crisis in the pension system in the public sector. On assumption of office, we met liabilities of pension and gratuities of those who retired voluntarily or those who were retrenched by successive governments from 1984 to the Year 2000. We have cleared much of the backlog through a consistent monthly appropriation. This will be sustained until all the arrears are liquidated.

This Administration has commenced the implementation of a comprehensive ICT programme aimed at attaining prudent use of resources, maximising efficiency and promoting accelerated and citizen-friendly administration.

We are now using ICT tools to capture the size and data of the workforce and pensioners, in order to eliminate wastages and abuses in salary and pension administration, but also to enable us plan more effectively. This is being extended to land administration, vehicle registration and tax administration.

The 2010 budget Proposal
Mr. Speaker, having used the policy tools in the 2009 budget to stabilise the State, we have now generally laid the foundation for accelerated development, especially in the areas of infrastructure, governance ethics, proper planning and institutional capacity. In so doing, we have not only restored the hopes, confidence and pride of our people, but we have also empowered them to be active development agents through their fiscal constitutions and their voice in governance. Today, I am proud to proclaim that Edo state is no longer a ready example of bad governance or of the abandoning of the people by government.

Whereas we have already recorded some immediate reliefs and gains, the impact of most of the projects and policies would be felt over a longer-term period. Therefore, the primary objective of the 2010 Budget is to consolidate the foundations already laid in the year 2009 across the sectors I have highlighted. In effect, the 2010 Budget will further empower Edo State to address the infrastructural challenge in order to facilitate economic growth, wealth creation and the overall welfare of the people. Thus, this is a Budget of Consolidation.

In the 2010 budget year, the projected expenditure is N99.25 billion made up of a capital projection of N60.54 billion and a recurrent estimate of N38.71 billion.

A sum of N61.358 Billion is proposed as recurrent revenue. The breakdown is as follows:
• The IGR is N18 billion representing 29%
• Statutory allocation is N29.75 billion representing 48%
• Excess Crude and other oil revenues is N13.60 billion representing 22%.
The balance of N37.89 billion will be funded through VAT (N6.6 billion), Grants (N9.23 billion), Loans and the opening balance from the current 2009 budget. In addition, this administration will explore the opportunities of the Bond Market in order to access long-term finance, which is the best way to fund infrastructure on a sustainable basis.

Mr. Speaker, as you can observe, our projected IGR is quite ambitious. This is consistent with the reforms being undertaken to boost our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and our desire to reduce our reliance on statutory allocation from the federation account. Accordingly, all revenue generating agencies (RGAs) will be re-engineered and mobilised to redouble their efforts to meet revenue targets.

The 2010 budget size exceeds the 2009 budget by N18.66 billion (or 23%). This is to enable us sustain the high capital component in our quest to re-engineer the budgetary process towards concrete development rather than recurrent spending. Consistent with the policy of shrinking recurrent expenditure to free more resources for fixed investments, a total sum of N60.54 billion or 61% of the total budget size has been earmarked for total capital expenditure. The proposed capital budget figure is 13.96 billion more than the 2009 capital appropriation, representing a 30% increase.

This is a radical growth-oriented approach to achieve economic sustainability and make meaningful impact on the people. This is a paradigm shift in budgeting in Edo State, aimed at investing in infrastructure as the springboard to massive and sustained generation of wealth.

Capital priorities for 2010
The priority areas in the 2010 budget remain Roads, flooding and erosion control and primary and secondary education. The combined proposed allocation to Roads and Erosion/Floods control and environmental beautification is N32.6b, which constitutes 54% of the total capital budget.

In the 2010 budget, while we would sustain the primacy of Benin City in terms of the construction of roads and flooding control, we are widening the scope of road construction and rehabilitation across the 18 Local Government Areas. All the roads to be constructed are based on proper designs.

In the 2010 budget year, we will commence the construction of a new primary drainage system within Benin City that will properly channel floods into natural tributaries based on the new Benin City Storm Water master plan.

Additionally, we are upgrading the Benin Moat through
stone-pitching to enhance its durability for the purpose of flood control and for its preservation as a tourist heritage.

The erosion challenge at Auchi, Queen Ede, Ogbeson and Iruekpen are beyond the resources of the State Government and we have already made a strong case to the Federal Government to make funds available from the Ecological Fund.

Consistent with our concern about the environment, Government will embark on a massive aforestation programme in 2010, starting with the raising of one million tree seedlings. This will represent a major progress in our environmental renewal effort and will increase Nigeriaís Carbon Sink credit.

The sum of N7.5 billion is being proposed for the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructures in the education sector.

In addition to these priorities, government will pursue new initiatives in other sectors.
As I mentioned earlier, this administration is now set to improve land administration throughout the State. An initial allocation of N1 billion is being proposed for a comprehensive land reform exercise.
In the area of Agriculture, we have allocated N120 million for the purchase of additional tractors and implements to support farmers and farming communities, in addition to other key initiatives in the sector.

Consistent with our commitment to strengthen the Justice Sector, we have allocated funds for the re-construction of the burnt High Court, rehabilitation and furnishing of other courts as well as acquisition of journals.

The Edo City Transport Service will be strengthened through the acquisition of a new fleet of mass transit buses, to ease the pains of commuters. This arrangement is in partnership with the private sector. The initial Edo State counterpart funding of N372 million is provided in the 2010 budget. In addition, we propose to set up a Traffic management and Accident Rescue Corp. As a nodal State prone to accidents and road traffic emergencies, we are overdue for a major institutional initiative of this nature. We will seek the cooperation of the House of Assembly to pass the enabling law for this institution.

In order to develop capacity to cope with other emergencies, we propose N250 million for the purchase of emergency relief materials.

Major improvements will be carried out in the Dr Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium starting with the building of an Astro turf pitch of international standard.

We have also set aside N120 million for the rehabilitation and development of markets as seed capital. We will seek further partnership with other stakeholders and collaborate with the local governments in this regard. The primary objective is to relocate street traders and expand opportunities for enhancing of commercial activities.

The second phase of the renovation of the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre will be carried out.
In the energy sector, we have earmarked over N670 million for intervention in each local government with special attention to rural electrification and upgrading of existing systems.

As I promised last year, we will strengthen the capacity of the Edo State Broadcasting Service and the Nigerian Observer. In the 2010 estimates, we propose N100 million for the purchase of OBS vans and other facilities to improve the performance of the EBS, while the Nigeria Observer will allocated N70 million to acquire state of the art printing equipment.

2010 Recurrent expenditure
The sum of N34.76 billion is proposed as recurrent expenditure. Details are as follows:
We envisage a substantial increase in the recurrent receipts in the year 2010 mainly arising from higher wage obligations.

We remain committed to the welfare of workers and the re-engineering of the public service. As the major facilitator of the implementation of public policies, the public service needs to be re-tooled and driven towards sustained efficiency. We are determined to achieve this through re-training, recruitment and re-orientation. I appeal to our workforce to justify the investments we will make in welfare, equipment and training.

Mr. Speaker, as I hinted earlier, the depth of infrastructural deficits and the resultant poverty of a majority of the people require a holistic and radical approach. With the best of efforts, the Government alone cannot deal with this challenge. Therefore, we are exploring the Bond Market and other funding options to raise long-term finance to fund infrastructure. I wish to appeal to all Edolites all over the world as well as the private sector to support this effort, once we have consolidated the arrangements.

In the current fiscal year, we have re-engineered the machinery of governance based on transparency, fiscal discipline and a sound financial management system. In addition, we have brought in private sector expertise and technocratic acumen to assist in our efforts to re-position the State. Therefore, we now have an environment that is conducive for sustainable partnership with the private sector and other development players.

May I add that development partners need to appreciate that Edo State is key to the South-South. Whatever is injected in Edo State invariably has a propelling and catalytic effect on the Niger Delta.
This budget is not about mere figures, but is about the people. The budget represents a new level of engagement of the development challenges and the welfare and interest of the people. I solicit your support and cooperation, so that its objectives can be realised.

May I again thank Mr. Speaker and the House for your support. In particular, I want to place on record the goodwill, encouragement and support of His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin, who has demonstrated profound moral leadership befitting his status as the Father of our people. I place on record my appreciation for the support of traditional and community leaders, Organised Labour, the studentsí movement, civil society, the business community, organised private sector, religious leaders and bodies, market women and men, professional bodies, community development associations, Edo people in the Diaspora, the youth, the media and indeed, the generality of Edo people.

I sincerely appreciate and celebrate the people of Edo State, for the wonderful understanding and overwhelming support for our efforts over the last one year. As the Chief Steward of Edo State, I cannot wish for better masters than the people of Edo State across all segments. Our policies have continued to receive acceptance and support because they meet popular aspirations. I assure you that the peopleís government will remain focused, humane and result-driven, so that it will help to lift the generality of our people out of the poverty cycle.

At this point, it is important to specially acknowledge the enormous goodwill of Mr. President, Alhaji Umaru Musa YaríAdua, and the Federal Government. On behalf of the people of Edo State, I wish our beloved president speedy recovery and join the rest of Nigerians to pray for his safe return.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, Members of the State Executive Council, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to present to you, Mr. Speaker, the Year 2010 Budget Proposal, to consolidate on the foundations laid in 2009.

I thank you for your attention and wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless Edo State, God bless Nigeria.
Government House
Benin City
Thursday, 17 December 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fiscal Indiscipline

Fiscal, Indiscipline in the literal sense, means the misapplication of funds, financial rascality or imprudence, by its managers or those in positions of authority. This, among other reasons, has been the bane of Nigeria’s development since our attainment of independence.

FISCAL indiscipline as an endemic socio-economic malaise in Nigeria, was again recently highlighted when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Khan, while reasoning with Nigeria’s House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole noted that, “Nigeria’s impressive revenue profile has not translated to better living conditions for the people.”

THE visiting IMF boss further observed that Nigeria as one of the highest revenue earning countries in the world couldn’t be said to be utilizing the money for the future benefit of the country.
SUCH an observation could not have been made at a more appropriate time as this, against the backdrop of years of collaborative looting of the nation’s treasury by public-office holders.

NIGERIA is one of the most blessed countries in the African continent, rich in human, material and natural resources, with its economic mainstay accruing from crude oil, the price of which has been soaring beyond projection, in past years. Unfortunately, this has not translated into better lives for Nigerians, as the gap between the “haves” and the “have notes” continues to get wider by the day.

The reasons are not far-fetched and as rightly observed by the IMF boss, they arise from financial indiscipline. It is a well known fact that the military juntas we have had, played leading roles in the financial predicaments of the country. For example, the oil boom of the 70s and early 80s were mismanaged by both the military and the inept democratic dispensation that followed them with the over pricing and over inflation of contract awards, outright embezzlement of public funds, misapplication of funds in goods and services that had no direct social hearing on the lives of Nigerians and the sponsoring of projects and programmes which were of no relevance to the country and its people. The resultant consequences found expressions in the country’s economic woes of later years.
AS a means of checking this menace, the immediate past government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo set tip various anti-graft agencies like the EFCC, ICPC, CCB etc. to instill a sense of Financial discipline in the heads of public offices who see looting of public funds as part of their own share of the national cake.

much as government is to be commended for taking such bold steps at ensuring financial discipline in the polity, Nigerians are not unaware of the fact that there are still so many avenues of wastages of public funds.

Monies appropriated to the different sectors of the economy by way of annual budgetary allocations, are never accounted for when it comes to taking stock of performances of government ministries and departments, particularly as such allocated funds translate into better life for the populace. A typical example is the controversial N300 billion said to have been expended on Federal roads between year 2000 and 2003, whereas Nigerians are still living witnesses of the deplorable conditions of our highways.

ANOTHER aspect of our economy where fiscal rascality has been so pronounced, is in the power sector, where despite billions of dollars of tax payers’ monies that have been reportedly expended, no visible or tangible signs of improvement have manifested.

AT this juncture, we admonish that the issues of fiscal indiscipline in Nigeria, either as it relates to misapplication or misappropriation, should no longer be treated with kid gloves. Accountability should henceforth; lie strictly enforced in pubic offices to the extent that those who misappropriate or misapply public funds should lie made to suffer severely for such crimes, so as to serve as a deterrent to others.

THE legislature should take seriously, its over-sight functions with a view to ensuring that the excesses of the executive as regards financial indiscipline are check—mated.

ABOVE all, transparency and good governance should henceforth lie our watchword so that the plenty and abundance which Nigeria is endowed withare translated into quality life for t lie citizenry.

Friday, November 13, 2009

365 Days In Office: Diary Of The Comrade Governor

The month of November 2009 marks one year since Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole was sworn in as the Executive Governor of Edo State under the aegis of the Action Congress Party. He achieved the feat after 16 months of titanic battle at both the Election Petition Tribunal and Court of Appeal in Benin for his stolen mandate. Since he assumed office as governor on November 12, 2008, many activities have taken place in the state. The major ones are highlighted in this diary.

November 12, 2008

Oshiomhole is sworn in as Executive Governor of Edo State. All political appointees in the state are relieved of their appointments with immediate effect. Government freezes all its accounts. Oshiomhole directs that he should be addressed as Comrade Governor.

November 13, 2008
Oshiomole assumes office. Conducted round government house. Hon Pally Iriase is sworn in as Secretary to the State Government. Monthly environmental sanitation substituted with a daily one. Government accounts are frozen following a discovery that N500 million was withdrawn by Osunbor’s officials on November 12, 2008.

November 14, 2008.
Oshiomhole pays a courtesy visit to Oba of Benin Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Erediauwa, to brief him of his election victory at the Court of Appeal on November 11, 2008.
November 15, 2008.

Oshiomole pledges to revive Bendel Insurance Football Club at opening ceremony of Inspector-General of Police football tournament in Benin.

November 17, 2008.
Speaker of Edo House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba leads members of the house on a courtesy visit to government house.

November 18, 2008.
Government indicates interest in repossessing Bendel Brewery so that it can go into full production. It is revealed the company is indebted to the tune of N2 billion. Oshiomhole says the dissolution of local government councils is not his immediate pre-occupation.

November 19, 2008.
Government bans party agents from revenue contracts and collection. Ban on ticketing is re-affirmed until all outstanding issues on it are resolved.

November 20, 2008.
Government inaugurates Asset Verification Committee. It is given four weeks to submit report.

November 26, 2008.
Oshiomhole bans the use of siren in government convoy. He says siren is an instrument which doesn’t add value to governance. He charged civil servants to be diligent because government won’t tolerate absenteeism, indolence and lateness to work. He plays host to the president and members of Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress at government house. He used the occasion to indicate government commitment of giving incentives to workers.

November 27, 2008
An eleven-man Committee on sports development is inaugurated. It is advised to come up with ideas to resuscitate sporting activities in the state.

December 3, 2008.
Government doles out N15 million to the families of three victims of April 14, 2007 gubernatorial election. They were killed by hoodlums while at the polling booth to cast their votes in Benin.

December 5, 2008.
Government donates N10.25 million to victims of 2007 flood disaster on Apostolic Church Road and its environs in Benin. A woman who lost her baby in the disaster is to get N250, 000 from the money, government directs.

On the same day, Oshiomhole pays on-the-spot assessment visit to Ugbegun-Ebudin in Esan Central to commiserate with victims of rainstorm disaster on November 11, 2008.

December 14, 2008.
Oshiomhole pays unscheduled visit to ailing government-owned firms-Edo Transport Company and Bendel Brewery, Benin. During the visit, he vows that politicians won’t be allowed to manage government business. He affirms that only professionals will be used.

December 19, 2008.
Government announces public sale of Mama Gold rice at a subsidized price of N6,550 a bag. Immediate past administration of Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor had fixed N8, 500 for a bag of the rice after it ordered them for Christmas. Government orders that no one should be allowed to buy more than five bags of rice to avoid hoarding and profiteering of the product.

December 23, 2008.
Ninety-five workers of Edo Transport Company are sacked because according to government, no due process was used in employing them by past administration. Edo Assembly protests. The issue is amicably resolved, later.

Government bans harassment and extortion by Community Development Associations as well as land speculators throughout the state. The agents are a pain in the neck of Real Estate developers in the state.

Seventeen new permanent secretaries appointed. Some who were unjustly retired are recalled. The exercise also involves rank order restoration in the civil services because favouritism was at play in the past administration as junior officers were promoted over their seniors. Criteria now used are seniority, expertise, merit, geographical spread and performance.

Oshiomhole closes ten petrol stations for selling petroleum products above approved pump prices.
Six teenage girls detained at Oba Market Police Station, Benin for petty stealing released by Oshiomole during a stop-over at the place. He promises to send them to school.

December 26, 2008.
Oshiomhole hosts Who-Is-Who in Nigeria at Iyamo (his hometown) to a sumptuous Christmas party. In attendance are Dr. John Ogbeide (State chairman of Labour Party), Prince Eheneden Erediauwa (Nigeria’s Ambassador to Malaysia), Chief Tom Ikimi (AC party chieftain), HRM H.A Momoh (Otaru of Auchi), Chief Osaro Idah (then Secretary to Benin Traditional Council), Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba (Speaker of Edo House of Assembly), and a host of other dignitaries.

January 2, 2009.
Oshiomhole is at the first anniversary of the Onojie of Ekpoma, Zaiki Anthony Ehizojie, Abumere 11. Oshiomhole poses for a photograph with former Edo State Governor, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor and the Onojie. Later in the day, Oshiomole flags-off road inspection in the state. He visits Ogida Road, a project at Okada and Medical Store Road, among others. During the fact-finding tour, he gives contractors three options: Do the job, refund the money or you will go to jail.

January 5, 2009.
Oshiomhole gives an insight into Edo fiscal predicament. He reveals that the state’s monthly wage bill is N1.3 billion while monthly internally generated revenue is N400 million. Nevertheless, he affirms that global recession won’t deter him from delivering his campaign promises, neither will the fall in oil revenue accruing to the state.

January 8, 2009.
Work hours of commercial motor-cyclists extended from 7pm to 7.30 pm. Oshiomhole promises his government will provided some crash helmets for them at a subsidized price to enable them comply with the order of the Federal Road Safety commission on wearing the helmets.

January 13, 2009.
Edo government join thirteen other state governments suing the federal government at the Supreme Court for improper management of their own share of the excess crude oil account running into N1.4 trillion.

January 23, 2009.
Fifteen of the eighteen Commissioners approved by Edo House of Assembly, including Special Advisers, sworn in. Oshiomhole announces that his Executive Council will comprise both Commissioners and Advisers - a novel introduction in Nigeria.

January 25, 2009.
Oshiomhole visits Ofunama, an Ijaw community in Edo State. He is the first governor to do so since the days of Mid-West Region in the sixties. His first attempt to reach Ofunama ended in failure at 8.30 pm, after losing two vehicles and a tortuous 5-hour drive along bad terrain. He was able to get to the community days later using helicopters chartered form Aero Contractors.

On same day, Oshiomhole bags Silverbird Man of the year (2009). He beats six nominees to win it.

February 10, 2009.
First batch of successful candidates employed under EDO-YES Scheme.

February 16, 2009.
This month started with the suspension of fifteen principals for overcharging WASCE entry requirement fees fixed at N5,350 by government in December 2008. On this day, however, Oshiomhole presents 2009 Budget of New Beginning to Edo House of Assembly. Budget estimate was N75.34 billion. For the first time in Edo history, much more fund was comparatively allocated for capital projects (N45.38 billion) while a lesser amount of N30.17 billion was proposed for recurrent expenditure.

February 18, 2009.
Oshiomhole discloses that government has paid its counterpart fund of N2.2 billion, raising the total for the State UBE programme to N4.4 billion. The federal government is contribution N2.2 billion to the fund. Previous administrations failed to pay the fund.

On the same day, Oshiomhole visits Idia College, Benin to check compliance with government approved regulation on levies and WASCE entry requirement fees. He interacts with JSS III and SSS III students.

Christ The Messiah School, New Benin is closed down and proprietor is handed over to the police for operating without government approval.

February 27, 2009.
Government holds its first town hall meeting at Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre, Benin City on developing a way forward for Edo State.

March 3, 2009.
Oshiomhole visits Central Hospital, Benin for on-the-spot assessment of facilities. He directs that eleven casual security staff be given permanent employment.

March 5, 2009
Members of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) pay a courtesy/ solidarity visit to Government House. Oshiomhole receives them, promising that his government will help them have full control of motor-parks. Also, he says government is working towards the challenge of removing under-aged children from the park s well as stop the use of underaged children as bus conductors.

March 8, 2009.
Government recalls fourteen out of the fifteen principals suspended for charging excess school fees following NUT’s appeal and remorse by them.

March 13, 2009.
Oshiomhole says that government is willing to return schools to missionaries provided they pledge that the poor will be accommodated in the returned schools. He was responding to an appeal by St. Maria Goretti, School Old Girls Association for the school to be handed back to the Catholic missionaries who founded it.

March 17, 2009.
Government inaugurates Edo Economic Council with the responsibility of advising the government on how to develop the state, economically.

Also, government offers a reward of N1million to any informant who provides information leading to the arrest of a kidnapper. Marching orders were also given to the police to deal decisively with kidnappers.

March 18, 2009.
Government indicates its interest to give permanent employment to 95 casual workers in ADP. Dr. Tunde Lakoju, Commissioner for Agriculture and natural resources makes this known during a maiden visit to the agency.

April 3, 2009.
Government says pregnant women will enjoy free ante-natal care so that none of them will die on account of lack of money for medical bills.

April 9, 2009.
Government puts in place adequate security arrangements to restore law and order in South Ibie Clan which witnessed an uprising over the traditional stool of the community. Oshiomhole visits the community and affirms Alhaji Kelvin Danesi is the lawful Aidonojie in line with court pronouncement , rule of law and due process.

On the same day, approval is given for the reconstitution of Ambrose Alli University governing council.

April 12, 2009.
Government launches Sickle Cell Project tagged HOPE 2009 to find a permanent solution to the disease.

April 14, 2009.
Oshiomhole signs the revised 2009 Budget under watchful eyes of the Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba, members of the House and State Executive Council members.

April 31, 2009.
Government says it has registered 350 Co-operative groups for FADAMA III project. Also, government states it has fulfilled all conditions required for the state to benefit from World Bank resources for the project. It is the first time government is participating in the scheme.

May 4, 2009.

Government, speaking through Hon. Abdul Oroh (Commissioner for Information and Orientation) offers lifeline to reggae musician, Majek Fashek, who is alleged to be sick with an undisclosed ailment. Fashek is promised assistance for full rehabilitation.

Also, a proposed amendment to the criminal code is sent to Edo State House of Assembly stipulating life imprisonment for kidnapping. The old law provided for ten years jail.

Finally Oshiomhole pays a sympathy visit to New Benin Market, a part of which was burnt down by fire the previous day. He is accompanied by Dr. Pius Odubu (deputy governor) and other members of the executive council. He promises to find a permanent solution to the recurring outbreak of fire in the market.

May 8, 2009.
Account of Egor Local Government Council defrozen. It had been frozen by government earlier on April 22, 2009 following dispute over the chairmanship seat after a court judgement.

May 22, 2009.
Petroleum monitoring Committee established to prevent profiteering, fuel scarcity and adulteration of petroleum product. Comrade Amen Osunde is chairman of the Committee.

Also, Hon. Vincent Akhere, then Commissioner for Art, Culture and Tourism, announces that government has inaugurated 7-member committee to write Oba of Benin’s biography. The book will be launched during 2009 Igue Festival.

May 29, 2009.
Government begins massive road rehabilitation in Benin metropolis which includes asphalting, reconstruction of side and surface drains, excavation of Benin Moat by TV Road to channel flood water and the construction of rigid pavement.

June 2, 2009.
All workers in the public service will get their salaries on or before the end of the month, announces Hon. Abdul Oroh, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, after an Executive Council meeting. The policy is slated to begin from June, 2009.

June 16, 2009.
Government says it has spent about N130 million on rehabilitation of fourteen roads in Benin metropolis. The roads are Akenzua, Dawnson, Wire Road, College, Boundary, Obakhavbaye, Oba Market. Junction, Aideyan, Benoni, Agadagudu, Uwa, Giwa-Amu among others. After making the announcement, Hon. Erauyi Obayagbonna, Commissioner for Works, reveals that thirty-six more roads are earmarked for rehabilitation in the next phase of the programme.

June 19, 2009.
Oshiomhole expresses deep shock over the sudden death of PDP chairman, Samson Ekhabafe in an accident on June 14, 2009. In a condolence message Oshiomhole states that Edo State lost an outstanding political leader following the death of the PDP chieftain.

On the same day, Hon. Vincent Akhere, then Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism declares that the first ever Edo Festival of Art, Culture and Tourism will hold in November 2009 to coincide with Oshiomhole’s first year in office.

June 23, 2009.
Oshiomhole inaugurates a Management Committee for state-owned Bendel Insurance Football Club. He commends Mr. Igbinomwahia Ekhoesuehi for committing his personal resources into the club. Oshiomhole advises civil servants to steer clear of the club which management will now be under the new committee.

June 30, 2009.
Government inaugurates the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee in line with the guidelines of the federal government.

Also, government stops the exploitation of rubber trees for wrongful purposes.
July 1, 2009.

About N900 million is approved by government for the beautification and landscaping of KINGS SQUARE and its environs, say the Commissioner for Environment and Public Utilities, Hon. Clement Agba and Hon. Abdul Oroh, Commissioner for Information and Orientation at a joint press briefing.

July 3, 2009.

Government bans indiscriminate felling of trees

July 8, 2009
N2.5 billion is approved for the dualization of Siluko Road and another N422.9 million for Costain/Isonorho Road.

July 10, 2009.
Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Housing, Hon. Didi Adodo re-affirms government’s determination to enforce town planning law on right of way in the state. He orders owners of all structures encroaching by twelve meters on both sides of the concrete media along the road to demolish them and evacuate the debris.

July 20, 2009
Government launches Operation Thunderstorm, a special security outfit to curb kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes in the state. Oshiomhole uses the occasion to donate thirty-one patrol vans to the police. This brings to fifty-six, the number of vans so far made available to the police since he assumed office. Each policeman in the outfit will be paid N6, 000 weekly by government as allowance, government states.

July 21, 2009.
Government inaugurates the Committee on Fertilizer distribution with an advice to ensure the public have access to fertilizer irrespective of party affiliation, socio-economic status or farm holding.

July 28, 2009.
Rapid Response Agency is inaugurated by government with a six-man board and Engr. Stanley Dako as its Managing Director. Oshiomhole announces, during the ceremony, that arrangement has been completed to employ 1, 300 graduates using the Agency. He discloses the agency will be in charge of Edo State Youth Employment Scheme (EDO YES).

Also, Oredo Local Government Chairman, Deacon Mike Ehima, is suspended from office. His deputy, Hon. Omorogieva Gbajumo takes over the Council affairs.

August 5, 2009.
Commissioners of Works and Public Utilities, as well as for Information and Orientation (Honourables Erhauyi Obayagbona and Abdul Oroh) visit Orle Bridge Linking Afuze and Auchi. The bridge is ravaged by flood but is undergoing rehabilitation by government.

August 15, 2009.
Dr. Sera Adetugboboh, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, discloses that government is training Edo citizens under its graduate entrepreneurs scheme which has taken off. The scheme is to equip them with skills to set up their own business.

August 17, 2009.
Government holds an e-governance sensitization workshop for Commissioners, Heads of Parastatals, Special Advisers and Directors of various ministries. The workshop is organized by the ICT Unit of Government House. It aims to stress the need for accurate and up-to-date database for the workforce in the state.

August 19, 2009.
The announcement lifting the ban on employment in Edo civil service, imposed by past administration, is made. Oshiomole makes this known at the swearing in of the State Civil Service Commission members.

August 21, 2009.
Government donates eight motor-cycles to Oredo Local Government Council as part of government health service development programme. The motor-cycles are expected to help the council deliver adequate health care services to the council’s nooks and crannies.

August 31, 2009.
Hon. Justice G.E. Edokpayi panel is set up by government to probe Deacon Mike Ehima, suspended Oredo Council Chairman. The panel is to report on his tenure in office from December 24, 2007 to July 28, 2009 when he was suspended. Also, government presents three vehicles to Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia as part of his pension benefits as two-time governor of Bendel State.

September 2, 2009.
Government accepts in principle to adopt the unique taxpayers identification project for its workforce. It will provide identification number for all taxable adults in the state. Speaking through Dr. Pius Egberanmwen Odubu, deputy governor, government however expresses the need for the project to also capture the biodata of holders of the identification card issued by the project.

Also, government inaugurates the Steering Committee for Edo Trade Fair and Talent Exposition 2009. It is the first time government is hosting the event since the stoppage of joint hosting by Edo and Delta States. A highlight of the event is the launching of Edo State’s first product village.

September 3, 2009.
A sum of N1.8 billion is earmarked by government for the Conditional Grant Scheme. The scheme incorporates a state government counterpart fund of N908.9 million. Oshiomhole notes that it will be used to strengthen secondary healthcare through the provision of referral backups for clusters of primary health care centres in the state.

September 19, 2009.
Government approves the compulsory retirement of Mrs. E.O. Onosode, the Permanent Secretary at the Post-Primary Education Board, from the public service. Making the special announcement, Dr. Simon Imuekemhe, Head of Service, says the action is taken because of gross dereliction of duties.

September 23, 2009.
Oshiomhole is made a patron of People’s Parliament, a socio-political organization in Benin. During the event, he is presented with a bronze cast of Oba Ewuare The Great of Benin Kingdom.

September 27, 2009.
In a publication in SUNDAY OBSERVER, government maps out its strategy for tourism development in the state. The then Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Hon. Vincent Akhere, reveals that government is proposing to establish a tourism site in each of the UNESCO

designated sites in all the eighteen local government areas.

September 30, 2009.
During an address to members of Gani Fawehinmi Movement For Good Government, led by Edo State branch Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Anthony Eboigbodin, Dr. Pius Odubu, Deputy Governor, disclosed that all principal officers indicted by Edo Asset Verification Committee will be handed over to the EFCC. He adds that a white paper on the committee’s report is now with the governor.

Also, government is at Technology Incubation Centre, Benin for its graduation ceremony. In a speech by Oshiomhole, read by his deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu, government says that it has given approval for the recruitment of a Real Estate agent to develop the Sakponba Industrial Estate in its bid to promote economic activities in the state.

October 2, 2009.
Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Abdul Oroh announces that government has awarded N9 billion contracts for road designs and control of flood. According to him, this includes the study, design and constructing of flood structures and street lights as well as the beautification of FIVE JUNCTION at a cost of N2.56 billion. Also, the Commissioner who was addressing the press, states that seventeen roads have been rehabilitated while work is going on in thirteen others.

Continuing, he says that the design and construction of roads/drains of Costain Road and the adjoining roads is costing the government N423 million. Finally, he tells the press that it will cost the government N5.55 billion to put Siluko Road in good shape.

October 4, 2009.
Warrake Mixed Grammar School, Warrake is renamed Inu Umoru Memorial College by government in memory of the late Alhaji Inu Umoru at his 40th day FIDAU prayers. Oshiomhole in a speech says the action will make the late PDP chieftain happy in heaven because he supported the school in his lifetime.

October 6, 2009.
Government, in a statement issued by Hon. Pally Iriase, Secretary to the State Government, announces that the suspension of Col. Felix Igiebor (rtd), Chairman of Committee on Environment from office with immediate effect has been approved by the governor.

October 7, 2009.
Okomu Oil Palm Company is sealed by government pending the conclusion of investigation of the source of 734 illegal logs found in the company’s saw mill. Government gives as back up for its action, Section 24 (2) 11 of Bendel State Forestry Law applicable to Edo State.

October 7, 2009.
Oshiomhole is invested state patron of Edo State Scout Association of Nigeria. He approves the payment of N250,000 subvention to the Association. No subvention has been paid to it since 2002.
Also, on the same day, Oshiomhole orders all illegal occupants of Trade Fair grounds to quit government land. He directs the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Housing to enforce the quit order.

October 9, 2009.
Cash reward of N500,000 is given to Edo citizens for winning the 2009 President’s Teachers And Schools Excellence Award. The competition was held in Abuja. The victory team include Mrs. Iyere Rabi, Mr. Benedict Edokpayi and Miss Addeh Otibhor.

October 10, 2009.
Government redeems its pledge made on May 4, 2009 to victims of fire disaster at New Benin Market, Benin. Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Maimuna Momodu, representing the government gives out N3.5 million to fifty-nine traders of the market.

October 12, 2009.
Oshiomhole doles out N2.1 million to indigent and less privileged people as government’s demonstration of concern for the welfare of the people. Making the donation on behalf of the governor, Hajia Maimuna Momodu, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development gave the names of the beneficiaries as Mrs. Bridget Maiyaki, Baby Olosaigbe Ogedengbe, Mrs. Mercy Uwangue and the Compassion Orphanage which cares for children living with HIV/AIDS.

Also, government donates 18 – Seater Toyota Hiace bus to Edo State Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). Hon. Abdul Oroh, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, makes the donation on behalf of government.

Government inaugurates a committee to monitor compliance of teachers with all legitimate postings to schools within the state.

October 14, 2009.
Government declares that as from November 10, 2009, it will start to disburse micro-credit scheme loans to beneficiaries. Elder Joseph Obaseki, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Commerce and Industry makes this known at Sabon-gida Ora while the Ministry is on its sensitization, education and mobilization tour of local government councils. The Permanent Secretary stood in for his Commissioner.

October 16, 2009.
The constitution of three boards is approved by the government. They are: Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board and Traditional Medicine Board.

October 19, 2009.
Commissioner for Commerce and Industry Hon. Sera Adetugboboh says government is ready to disburse N800 million to small-scale industrialists co-operative societies as part of effort to drive the economy of the state. She discloses that, to ensure a high standard of transparency in the disbursement of the fund, an inter-ministerial committee is set up to manage it.

Prince Clement Agba, Commissioner for Environment and Public Utilities, states that more dumpsites will be located at strategic areas in Benin metropolis to complement the dumpsite at Ikhueniro. He notes that the Ikhueniro dumpsite is now fenced. A borehole has been provided at the site while the access road to it is being rehabilitated. He adds that waste management trucks have been purchased and that a committee has been put in place to arrive at appropriate billing/tariff for every customer whose wastes will be evacuated.

Dr. Pius Odubu, Deputy Governor, observes that over 4000 youths have so far been employed by government under its EDO YES scheme. He further reveals government plan to employ more 400 youths while approval has been given for the absorption of 150 teachers into Edo Public Service. Also, Government signs a programme implementation Agreement with UNICEF on the advancement of the care of women and children in the state.

October 20, 2009.
A special Joint Task Force is set up by government to monitor private health facilities within the state. In a statement issued by the then permanent secretary Ministry of Health, Dr, I.U. Omoike, the facilities to be monitored are named. They are nursing homes, maternities, clinics, medical centres, hospitals, diagnostic centres, laboratory centres, pharmacy shops, physiotherapy centres, etc. All of them are advised to have in their possession for inspection, annual renewal/registration fees for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Osarenren, Commissioner for Education, warns against the collection of illegal levies in schools. She lists the approved payments as infrastructural levy (N500) and Senior Secondary School fees (N500).

Also, on the same day, Oshiomhole inaugurates the Christian and Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board. He urges them to identify only the less privileged members of the society for sponsorship by government.

October 21, 2009.
Oshiomhole presents a supplementary budget of N5.5 billion to Edo State House of Assembly. In his letter accompanying the budget presentation, he states that there is under-provision for personnel and over-head costs for certain ministries, department and agencies. Also, he explains that there is a need to expand the scope of the beautification and flood control, as well as improve on routine maintenance of intra-city roads across the state. Because of all these factors, he argues that there is a need for the supplementary budget.

October 28, 2009.
In a publication of The NIGERIAN OBSERVER, government says it has abolished exploitative land charges earlier imposed by spurious absentee landlords. In the publication, also, government discloses that it has a partnership agreement with IITA, Ibadan for the sourcing of high yielding species of food crops for Edo farmers. Furthermore, government lists more of its achievements to include: Mobilizing 600 farmers under the Allottee Farm Scheme across the three state farm settlements at Iguoriakhi, Sobe and Ekpoma, and sourcing for funds under FADAMA 3 Scheme for disbursement to farmers.

October 29, 2009.
Four persons illegally collecting revenue from traders around King’s Square in the state capital are arrested by government. The suspects claim that in the last six months they have collected about N18 million although there is an order banning the collection of levy from traders, according to Hon. Clem Agba, Commissioner for Environment and Public utilities.

October 31, 2009.
In The WEEKEND OBSERVER of October 31, 2009 Hon. Abdul Oroh, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, stresses government commitment to food security in the state. He cites the following facts as evidence of this commitment: Edo ADP has disbursed N7.5 million to farmers at Warrake. Government has empowered five groups with modern cassava processing centres which qualifies each of them for a loan package of N4.45 million. Edo ADP has constructed a micro-earth dam at Iviodon Stream, Igbanke to boost dry season farming and capture fishery in the state. Five cassava processing centres have been set up at Ozemoya, Auchi, Emesome, Uzairue, Ozalu, etc.

ADP has established yam minisett multiplication plot in Benin, Auchi and Irrua to ensure ready supply of yam seedlings are available for sale at subsidized price later in the year. Also, according to the Commissioner, 8000 assorted agro-forestry tree crops have been distributed to enhance agro-forestry farming scheme.

November 4, 2009
Oshiomhole receives the report on the Commission of Inquiry into the tenure of Hon. Mike Ehima, former Oredo Local Government Council Chairman. While receiving the report, Oshiomhole assures the people of Edo State that government will be objective in considering it. Thereafter, he commends Hon. Justice Godfry Edokpayi ( rtd), Chairman of the panel and his members, for their work. He promises to make the panel’s report public.

In his response, Justice Edokpayi (rtd) reveals that relevant documents on the investigation at the EFCC and State House of Assembly were not made available to his panel;. Also, he made the following disclosures:

* 39 payment vouchers totaling N112.734 m were removed from the case file. Therefore the panel had no access to them.

* 20 witnesses, including Hon. Mike Ehima appeared before the panel.
Copies of the report were made available to pressmen by the Commissioner for local government and Chieftaincy Affairs Hon. Victor Enoghama.. (The NIGERIAN OBSERVER/ November 5, 2009).

November 5, 2009.
Government launches FADAMA III project in the state in Benin City. Dr. Tunde Lakoju, Commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, stands in for Comrade Oshiomhole at the event. In his speech, the governor emphasizes the centrality of agriculture in the war against poverty, unemployment, crime, prostitution, among other social vices. He explains that the state government is pursuing a vigorous tractorization programme in collaboration with the federal / local government and the private sectors so as to make farming attractive to young men and women. Continuing, he reveals that the state government has placed order for 73 new tractors that will be added to its existing fleet of 7 functional ones. In addition, he notes that the FADAMA III project, which is expected to promote food self-sufficiency, employment generation and economic empowerment, will provide an estimated 5,000 jobs in a few years time.
The NIGERIAN OBSERVER/ November 6, 2009).

November 7, 2009
Edo Government, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Pro- Health International and other organizations collaborate to offer free neuro-surgical operation to about 40 persons at the UBTH from November 9 to November 13, 2009. Acting Deputy Director of Pro-Health International in Nigeria, Dr. Kelvin Stewart makes this known in Benin City on November 7, 2009. He explains that the surgical mission is the first of its kind in Nigeria and is aimed at bringing succour to the less privileged in the society who cannot afford the cost of neuro-surgical operations. (The NIGERIAN OBSERVER / November 8, 2009).

November 9, 2009.
Oshiomhole receives the newly constituted Governing Council of the University of Benin at government house. In his speech on the occasion, he admits the university system has a lot of challenges which he discovered during his involvement in helping to resolve the Federal Government / ASUU face – off .

Thereafter, identifying the university system as critical to the development of human capital, he says: “ If we get the priorities right, put the money where we need to put them and recognize that we are not going to solve all the problems in Nigeria but we can identify the critical ones and solve them, then I believe we are going to be able to fix the University system”. (The NIGERIAN OBSERVER/ November 10, 2009).

Final Activities During The Month of November Ending On The 11TH Day
Edo Government commiserates with victims of Agbado Market, Benin midnight inferno. A high-powered government team led by deputy governor, Dr. Pius Odubu goes for an on-the-spot assessment of the damage to the market. He disclosed that government will set up a Commission of Inquiry to ascertain the cause of the fire. He says that the Comrade Governor is out of the state and will personally visit the market when he returns. He assures the traders that action will be taken to ameliorate their plight.

* In far away Stockholm, Sweden Oshiomhole calls on investors to develop tourism sites in Edo while assuring them that returns on such investments will be encouraging. He makes this call at an exhibition of Benin Arts organized by the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, Sweden. The exhibition is declared open by the Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom HRM Ambassador Eheneden Erediauwa, Edaiken of Uselu. During the event, Oshiomhole enumerates the tourism potentials of Edo, promising that investments in tourism in the state will be guaranteed by appropriate legislation and legal framework. He explains that the centrality of Edo State coupled with its large market will ensure high return on investments. (The NIGERIAN OBSERVER/November 9, 2009).

* Edo Commissioner for Budget, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Ahonsi Unuigbe assures that work on Ugbowo and Airport Roads, Benin will commence as soon as the rains stop. Speaking with newsmen, he disclosed that designs for the two projects have been completed. (The NIGERIAN OBSERVER/November 9, 2009).

* Oshiomhole receives at Government House, the Ogieneni of Uzairue Kingdom HRH Imonikhe Kadiri Omogbai IV. The monarch pays a courtesy visit to the governor with his chiefs. (The NIGERIAN OBSERVER/November 10, 2009).

* Also on November 10, 2009, government commissions Edo State Integrated Waste Management in Government House. Omorodion Street, Benin City is commissioned on the same day.

* On November 11, 2009 there is an Interdenominational Service at Tennis Court, Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City. EDO-YES is launched and a rally is held at the stadium. There is also a laying of wreath at Ramat Park in memory of those killed during the struggle for democracy in Edo State.

Edo State Budget 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009


 At the inception of the administration, federal monthly allocation had dropped from N4billion to around N1.6billion per month. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) was less than 300million Naira monthly. A year later, the IGR hovers around a billion a month!
 31 roads have been rehabilitated.
 3 major roads contracts have been awarded which haven’t began in earnest due to the nonstop rains.
 About 3, 500 youths have been employed under the Edo Youths Employment Scheme (EDO YES).
 Staff Audit and Verification Exercise has been carried out to verify and authenticate the accurate number of staff on the state government’s payroll as well as to ensure promotions as and when due.
 The State is blazing a path in Information and Communications Technology as a unit has been created under the governor’s office with the sole responsibility of incorporating ICT into every facet of governance, reducing bureaucratic bottlenecks; enhance staff efficiency, quality delivery of services as well as a paperless administration.
 Schools have been earmarked for massive renovation. Schools that engage in examination malpractices have been shut down by the state ministry of education.
 Security has been beefed up in the state leading to a drastic reduction in the incidence of kidnapping and other social vices.
 Massive beautification of the King’s square (Ring Road).
…………all these and much more in one year!
Edo State may not have reached where it should be BUT it is definitely NOT where it was before the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led administration came on board!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Menace Of Human Trafficking

TO begin this piece, it is instructive to note that recently, Nigeria was elevated by a U.S based international body into category 1 of countries actively involved in the fight against human trafficking. Unlike the menace of corruption for which Nigeria is in the list of what may be termed endangered species, human trafficking remains a social malaise whose victims include under-aged children a majority of whom are either Orphans or under-privileged. Equally, young girls of High-school age, who more often than not are not willing to abandon their educational pursuits are forced by their Euro-Dollar-thirsty parents, (or guardians), into the hands of traffickers who convey them to Europe to be used as sex machines.

Arising from the foregoing, it is noteworthy that the dawning of each day brings with it new developments that either positively or negatively affects our society as a whole. As such, the positive recognition given to the Nigerian Government as aforementioned is highly commendable but it will be too early to say Uhuru just as the political analysts will say.

The recent deportation of illegal Nigerian immigrants in Libya is indeed an incident which gives our dear nation a negative image in the eye of the international community. I believe that no amount of “re-branding”, (to use the mantra of the Information Minister) will save the situation if urgent steps are not taken to nip the recurring problem in the bud.

Incidentally, a majority of those deported from Libya were young girls of Edo State origin, who obviously were Europe-bound travellers, but their unholy pilgrimage was cut-short by the ever — conscious Libya Law Enforcement Agents. The question that always comes to mind when I hear about incidents like this is what about the Traffickers? Is it that the persons that traffic (or convey) these young girls via Libya to Europe for prostitution are immune from deportation and consequent prosecution by the Nigerian Government?

I believe that the foregoing posers will serve as a necessary food for thought for NAPTIP, (an acronym for National Agency for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons), the statutory body saddled with the duty of combating the menace of human trafficking in Nigeria.

Again, the recent visit of top officials of the anti-human trafficking Agency to Edo State may not be unconnected to the immediate response of the Federal government to the negative effect of the deportation saga on the image of Nigeria and Edo State in particular. What is more! The presence of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for justice, Mr. Michael Kaase Aondoakaa during the flag-off campaign against human trafficking in the State held at Sam Ogbemudia Stadium further explains the seriousness of the matter.

The assurance given by the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that his administration will be actively involved in the fight against human trafficking, which he physically expressed by flagging the symbolic red card against human trafficking is indeed a saving grace for potential victims of human trafficking. Very recently, I had the opportunity of interacting one-on-one with one of the recent deportees from Libya and she gave a blow by blow account of her ordeal in the hands of the knavorious Nigerian, of Edo State origin, who fraudulently promised her of a safe trip to Europe (via Niger Republic enroute Libya).

In my subsequent column, I promise to give our esteemed readers a vintage on the personal account of the victim, whose name will not be disclosed, but this privilege will not extend to her tormentor- in-chief whose name and inglorious pedigree you will know in due course, Deo volente.

It is commendable that the office of the first lady of Edo State has taken up the gauntlet of joining forces with the anti-human trafficking Agency in ensuring that Edo State becomes a Lion’s den for traffickers-in-persons. I do not think they deserve the Liberty which they hitherto enjoyed in perpetrating their nefarious activities and thereby giving the State, nay Nigeria a less than honourable image. Enough of this negative re-branding. We must expose these brutes living within our domain. I believe we can collectively make the fight against trafficking in persons a result-oriented one. Yes we can!

Monday, November 2, 2009

No development without government’s sincerity – Oshiomhole

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has said the quest for infrastructural development that have eluded the people of the state could not be realised without government’s sincere approach and involvement of the private sector.

Oshiomhole said in a statement issued by by Special Assistant on Media, Mr. John Mayaki: “We thank the people of Edo State for their voluntary compliance to the beautification of the environment. What government is doing is to try to restore the state to its original master plan.

“We have no business deceiving the people and that is why we are taking our time to do proper planning.
“Government has taken a holistic approach on the master plan and updated the design. A South African firm is handling this. It is such that any road we are going to construct in Benin City for example, will not be based on just asking the contractor to go to site without design.

“ It will be such that will stand the test of time with the desired quality and durability that can compare with any one in the world.

“I am also very happy about the voluntary compliance that we are beginning to notice. At the beginning, there were mixed feelings and some others thought they were being targeted for political reasons”.

“No, as long as Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole is governor of the state, there can be no blackmail against the people of the state.

“Government cannot blackmail any of its citizens. Primarily, government’s responsibility is to protect not only its citizens, but also all those living in the state. Therefore, government cannot victimise anybody, including those known political opponents because the governor is a democrat.

“I am sure that for those who feel a little uncomfortable, by the time we are done and they see the benefits, they will agree that whatever inconveniences they have suffered is nothing compared to the benefits that will arise from the beautification agenda we are doing.

“Already, flooding this year is not as serious as that of last year because government has carried out some cleaning of existing drainages, like the dreaded 5-junction around Uselu Lagos road, and has dredged some of the moats.

Government will do more of that so that our people can look forward to the rainy season with joy.

“I have no doubt in my mind that to fight poverty, all hands must be on deck. The private sector is very critical for this purpose. The people of Edo state are very enterprising people.

“I am convinced that if we work together closely, government can support and encourage the private sector to play a vital role in the social and economic life of our state.”