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Edo State Budgets N320.4Bn For 2023

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.. Presents Estimates To State Assembly

The Edo state government is to spend N320.4bn in 2023 fiscal year

The state governor ,Mr Godwin Obaseki presented the estimates yesterday to members of the state House of Assembly

The budget which is christened, ‘Budget of Resilience and Transformation’ has a recurrent expenditure of N127.5 billion and N192billion for Capital

The 2023 Budget of N320.35bn is a 44.30% increase from the N222bn budgeted for the year 2022

However, below is the: FULL TEXT OF 2023 DRAFT BUDGET SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR GODWIN OBASEKI BEFORE A SESSION OF THE EDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, ON WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 16, 2022

“The Honourable Speaker,

Honourable Members of the House,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

SUMMARY

I am glad to stand before this distinguished House to express gratitude to the Speaker and Honourable members of the House for the unwavering support and solid alliance we formed in building a prosperous and formidable State these past six years.

The cordial and mutually beneficial relationship between the legislature and the executive arm of government has enabled us to create a healthy working environment, which has enabled us to deliver on our development objectives and created benefits for Edo citizens.

You have enacted new laws, updated obsolete legislations and maintained oversight function; the legislature has continued to play a critical role in delivering good governance to the people of Edo State.

It is on record that this house under your leadership has despite obvious constraints performed creditably and achieved what can be termed extraordinary legislative feats.

Permit me to praise the efforts of this performing House which has been able to pass 40 bills into law in the last 24 months. Edo people will forever remain grateful to you.

In 2023 fiscal year, our policies, programmes and initiatives will be streamlined across the following areas:

• Developing our human capital and preparing our young population for a new world of work

• Deepening the public and civil service transformation so that government can support its rapid transformation activities

• Economic growth by creating the enabling environment to support businesses particularly SMEs

Distinguished Speaker and Honourable members, today, I stand before you to reel out the achievements recorded in the outgoing year, and also avail you with the core programme that will propel and influence our performance. I will also provide projections on our priority areas and estimates of how we intend to realize them.

OVERVIEW OF THE YEAR 2022

Mr. Speaker, in 2022, I can confirm that we have a good story to tell Edo people and the world.

Despite the global economic problem created by the Russia-Ukrainian war and other domestic fiscal and monetary misalignment, we are proud to confirm that we recorded a budget performance of over 90 percent and also sustained a healthy capital expenditure.

Mr. Speaker and Honourable members, our impressive budgetary performance is as a result of our pragmatic approach to governance.

In the course of 2022, we increased efforts to improve service wide transformation in the civil and public service. The e-governance digital platform we need to work was adopted, which has now computerized roles and activities in the civil service.

Our efforts at restructuring government and public institutions have resulted in better service delivery across board, even as we have attracted landmark investments in different sectors of the state’s economy.

The civil service is now digitized in terms of process automation and revenue administration while the work environment has been sanitized. The wider economy is experiencing a boom with domestic and foreign investors coming up with big-ticket projects across agro-processing, energy, hospitality, solid minerals, technology, arts and culture, entertainment and service sectors.

In 2022, we intensified the campaign against land-grabbing and repossessed the 1220 hectares land along Irhirhi-Arogba-Obazagbon-Ogheghe Road, which was acquired in 2017, for a new town project. We expect to commence civil works soon on the internal roads, as we have concluded topography survey and soil tests on the area.

Government is now going to take measures to increase the supply of land to the market as a disincentive to land grabbers.

The campaign against land-grabbing, for us, is one that must be won. This is because protection and respect for property rights are fundamental to driving economic growth. We have apprehended some of the land grabbers and are closing on the trails of others who are still on the run. It is a fight to the finish.

The new town project is an integral part of our 30-year development plan, which consists of the Benin City Masterplan and the Edo Regional Development Plan. The plans are being developed with the buy-in of relevant stakeholders, even as we have broken it down to five-yearly incremental plans to ensure ease of implementation.

Mr. Speaker, we would be counting on your support in due course when it is time for legislation to ensure that the plans are enacted as legal documents that will enhance our state’s long-term planning objectives.

As we make progress in delivering good Governance, we are not unmindful of the difficulties faced in the outgoing year. Particularly as we have had to contend with security issues in the course of the year – as have other states across the country. But with the energizing of the Edo State Security Network and synchronizing activities of the network with the Federal Security agencies, we have been able to improve security and safety in Edo.

Mr. Speaker, we have a target to make Edo State the best sub-national in Africa to live and prosper by 2050. This vision, for us, is as clear to us as day. By making these tough choices today, we are repositioning Edo State to become a very vibrant and progressive sub-national government.

MACROECONOMIC ASSUMPTIONS

The Nigerian economy recovered from the -1.92% economic slump in 2020 as a result of Covid-19 lockdown to achieve a 3.4% growth in 2021. The economy has shown signs of resilience and continuous recovery into 2022, with real GDP growth in the first and second quarter of 2022 at 3.11% and 3.54% respectively, averaging 3.33% so far in 2022.

In the same vein, the economy of Edo State is forecasted to continue to grow from N2.4 trillion in 2021 to N2.5 trillion in 2022, and further to N2.63 trillion in 2023; this represents a GDP growth trajectory (above the national average) of 4.2%, 5.2% in 2022 and 2023 respectively. The growth of the national and State’s economy will enhance the standard of living of our citizens, create employment opportunities, and boost Edo State’s fiscal position.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that exchange rate volatility and inflation are the two major risks facing our economy today (a combination of which has constrained our ability to deliver more results from the 2022 budget).

OUTLOOK FOR 2023

We have formulated our 2023 Edo State at a time of major instability and downward slump in the global and domestic economy. The gradual but steady recovery from the COVID-19-induced economic crisis has been countered by global energy crisis, high inflation, and the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As a result, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have projected the global economy to grow by 2.7% and 3.0% (respectively) in 2023, a sizeable decline from the 6.0% growth in global GDP in 2021.

Domestic inflation rates which started during the COVID-19 periods climbed to 20.52% in August 2022, averaging 17.56% year-to-September 2022. Food inflation rate is much higher at 23.12%, with potential effects on food security and poverty. The increase in the 2023 budget size relative to 2022 is as a result of inflation and devaluation of the currency in the open market. We have to spend roughly 40% more in 2023, to achieve the same results delivered with the N222bn budget, in 2022.

Exchange rate volatility is another major macroeconomic challenge facing the economy and the 2023 budget. The exchange rate benchmark adopted by the Federal Government for the 2023 fiscal year is N435.57 per US$. The exchange rate has depreciated significantly over the years, and the significant gap between the official and parallel markets where the US Dollar is exchanging above N800 to $1, continues to discourage foreign investment and trade.

The 2023 Edo State budget proposal is premised on an inflation worst-case-scenario rate of 25% (with an associated trickle down impact of 40% on commodities, basic goods and services), and an exchange rate of N470 to the US$. The budget is therefore designed to mitigate the impact of inflation and exchange rate risks on the State’s economy.

The 2023 budget is also designed to deliver a target 5% GDP growth (relative to the 3.75% GDP growth targeted by the FGN); this will stimulate employment opportunities for our teeming youths and foster economic well-being for our citizens.

OUR ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2022

In 2022, we made considerable progress in the march towards sustainable growth, prioritizing key areas of development and building on the gains made in the last six years.

Despite the excruciating economic realities, we remained on course with our plans, maintained momentum in delivering on the projections made for the year.

WORKFORCE ENHANCEMENT

In the outgoing year, we consolidated on the ongoing Public/Civil Service Transformation exercise, ensuring a seamless transition into digitalizing our systems and processes in government.

This year we increased and implemented the new minimum wage of N40,000, which is the highest in the country. This move was done in acknowledgement of the dire economic straits that workers have been subjected to as a result of the galloping inflation and other economic hurdles witnessed in the year.

Following this, we conducted a service-wide digitization exercise with the deployment of over 4,000 computers and other digital
infrastructure, which have helped in creating digital versions of government records. We also rolled out the phase II of recruitment exercise, which has injected new life into the civil service across various cadres.

The Block B of the Secretariat complex was completed this year and various ministries have moved into the facility, utilizing the improved work environment in delivering quality service to Edo people.

Construction has advanced in the New Agriculture Hub, which will host MDAs in the agriculture ecosystem, at the ADP property on Airport Road and the Health Hub, is being constructed to host all MDAs in the health ecosystem.

HUMAN CAPITAL DEVT

We have sustained investment in human capital development, as it remains the fulcrum for our developmental goals. Because we believe that our greatest assets are our people, we have decided to strengthen our educational and health institutions to enable our people realise their full potential and get employment.

The next phase of the Edo State Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST 2.0) programme was rolled out this year, ensuring the disarticulation of the secondary school system. We have commenced the process and to date we have disarticulated over 300 JSS schools from SSS. We have now trained over 15,000 teachers, who are deploying digital tablets to teach over 300,000 across public schools in the state.

Technical education is also a priority for us. The Government Science and Technical College (GSTC) has been a successful pilot for our state-wide plan to strengthen Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). We are working with partners such as the German Government and the World Bank to roll out more TVET schools across the 18 local governments in the state.

The Edo State Polytechnic, Usen continues to receive the required attention, where we are ensuring the accreditation of all its courses.

Reforms in our colleges and universities are yielding positive fruits. The Edo State University, Uzairue, remains a shining light for our reforms. The Ambrose Alli University is being restructured for sustainability.

The Edo State College of Agriculture, with campuses in Iguoriakhi, Agenebode and Uromi is taking shape as its reconstructed main campus in Iguoriakhi, will open for classes in the first half of 2023.

Across the major elements of the tertiary education ecosystem – infrastructure, personnel and operations – we are retooling the systems to deliver greater value to our people.

HEALTHCARE

The healthcare system in the state is witnessing a total overhaul, as we have introduced changes that ensure that the people are better served, guaranteeing that healthcare is reliable, affordable and accessible.

For us, the focus remains on developing a vibrant primary healthcare system. We have transferred staff from the Ministry of Health to the Edo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, while over 50 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) have been revamped, fitted with technology and powered with solar energy to ensure minimal downtimes.

Leveraging strategic partnerships with the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANAP), we organised one of the largest medical outreaches in the state, providing our people with essential medical interventions that reached over 5,000 persons, who ordinarily would not have been able to receive that quality of care.

We have ensured a sustainability pathway by deploying the telemedicine facilities in the PHCs to enable ANAP members in the diaspora to continue to provide consultancy to our people.

The Edo State School of Nursing Sciences is, today, a success story. We are oversubscribed and are expanding to accommodate more students. The success of the school is a validation of our resolve to ensure that if our institutions of higher learning are structured to global standards, they will attain self-reliance and run in a sustainable manner.

The Edo State Health Insurance Scheme has continued to enroll more persons across various sectors of the economy so as to shore up the number of persons making out-of-pocket payments for healthcare services. We have made room for enrollees from the informal sector so as to have a robust scheme that can cater for the needs of the citizenry.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY

We understand that the investments being made in Edo today would benefit from improvement in public safety and security. This is why we invested heavily in improving the state’s security system with the establishment of the Edo State Command and Control Centre. The centre is fitted with state-of-the-art security equipment to assist security personnel in curbing crime and criminality in the state.

We have extended copious support to federal government security agencies in the state with the provision of operational bases and purchase of equipment, including Armoured Personal Carriers (APC), speedboats and gunboats, among others.

We also refurbished and rebuilt infrastructure at the Police Training School, Ogida to assist in training members of our Vigilante Network, PUWOV and Police Constabulary Teams.

The Edo State Security Network has been instrumental in pushing back against criminal elements in society. They have helped in providing intelligence and strengthening community policing working closely with federal security agencies.

INFRASTRUCTURE

We recorded impressive feats in the power sector in 2022, with improved power generation from Ossiomo Power Company, which now has 95MW generation capacity and has expanded its transmission and distribution lines on the back of our new legislation that creates a vibrant electricity market.

This power reform is instrumental to the roll out of the Operation Light-up Edo which includes the Edo Street-lighting project through which major roads in Benin metropolis, Auchi and Ekpoma are now illuminated at night to boost economic activity in the state.

Work is progressing steadily on the Benin River Port while the state has laid fiber optic cables across Benin metropolis to expand the state’s digital infrastructure and improve internet connectivity. The fiber optic cables is now been extended to the 18 local government areas of the state in partnership with private investors.

We have intensified efforts to improve physical infrastructure across the state, despite setbacks occasioned by an extended rainy season which has slowed the pace of work.

However, amid this, we have continued key road projects across the state’s three senatorial districts.

In Edo South, the road projects include:

1) Dualization of Ekehuan Road
2) Textile Mill Road
3) Okpagha-Aimufi Road
4) Benin-Abraka Road
5) Ikpako-Ajoki Road
6) 18th & 19th Streets off Uselu- Lagos Road
7) Access Road to Greenhills Factory
8 ) Benin Technical College Road

In Edo Central, the projects are:

1) Ubiaja- Ugboha Road
2) Iruekpen – Ekpoma Road
3) Ugboha Dam Access Road
4) Ujiogba- Ogwa Road

While in Edo North, the following projects are:

1) Agbede – Awain Road
2) Sobe- Sabongida- Ora Road
3) Ogriga- Afokpella- Okugbe Road
4) Ikiran- Oke – Ikakhumo Road

We have enhanced project execution and governance mechanisms at the Ministry of Roads & Bridges, Accelerated Road Development Programme (SEEFOR+), RAAMP and Edo State Electrification Agency, with a view to achieving quality, fast track and low-cost delivery of metropolitan and rural roads.

INVESTMENTS TO SPUR ECONOMIC REVOLUTION

Our economic development plan is anchored on our 30-year development plans, including the Benin City Masterplan and the Edo Regional Development Plan, two documents that would guide our development trajectory till 2050.

With the calibre of investors that we have attracted to Edo State in the last six years, we can boldly say that the state’s economic base has been largely recalibrated.

Our strategy is to attract investors by ensuring security, easy access to land, availability of electricity and high-speed broadband connection in the state.

Currently, there is stable electricity supply provided by Ossiomo Power Company, which is supplying stable electricity to government establishments and streetlights. It also powers the industrial clusters, production hubs and other electricity customers in the state.

With the state’s new electricity law passed by this honourable house, we expect to create a vibrant market in electricity which will lead to more investments in generation and distribution to reach even more communities across the state.

Mr. Speaker, I can confidently confirm that we have attracted not less than $2bn investment into the economy across various sectors, including commercial agriculture, energy, healthcare, hospitality, arts and culture, entertainment and technology.

Many of these projects are anchored on a Public Private Partnership (PPP), which ensures that we have a strong alliance with private actors to collectively drive sustainable development.

The success of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) has been phenomenal. ESOPP is one of Africa’s largest Africa program today. Working with new investors such as Dufil Limited, Fayus Limited, Saro Africa International, NOSAK, Flour Mills of Nigeria and other existing investors like Okomu and Presco, the state is leading the charge in oil palm development in Nigeria and is poised to dominate the sub-sector when the plantations start harvest in the next few years.

In the outgoing year, we have added a new refinery, with the coming onstream of the Duport Energy Park, which boasts of a 10 Megawatts Generating Power Plant, a gas processing cluster and a tier 4 data center, increasing our capacity to play in the country’s hydrocarbon market once we obtain necessary regulatory approvals.

INNOVATION AND YOUTH ENTERPRISE

We are always conscious as a government that Edo has a very large population of young people. Working with our partners, we have set the target of training not less than 15,000 youths in the next five years in software engineering such as coding and soft skills. In line with this, we have also graduated the 3rd cohort from the Edo

Tech Park take-off campus, from where training is currently ongoing. These young individuals are set to take on the world to build tech unicorns from our state.

We are also giving opportunities to young creatives in the state to undertake their production in the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub – another landmark project of ours which is fitted with a world-class soundstage and a post-production studio with equipment for video and music production, animation and post-production, is attracting film makers to the state. This year almost 30 movies have been shot and produced in Edo by big time industry players such as ROK studios, AfricaMagic etc.

2023 BUDGET OF RESILIENCE AND TRANSFORMATION

The 2023 budget is christened Budget of ‘Resilience and Transformation.’ With changes in global economic dynamics and its effect on our economy, states that must survive will have to transform structurally and change the way they operate. Partnerships, therefore, are key to resilience.

Government does not have all the resources needed to engender growth and development that the people desire. Partnerships with local and international private sector players are therefore germane and expedient so as to make progress.

It is on this note that the government seeks to enhance reforms in government process, stimulate economic prosperity and improve ease of doing business to continuously attract private capital to engender sustainable development.

With several projects at the verge of completion in the year 2023, we hope to galvanize all actors and harness resources to increase the opportunities for our people to enhance productivity and expand the economic base of our state.

BUDGET ESTIMATES FOR 2023

Mr. Speaker and Honourable members, our budget size for 2023 fiscal year is N320.35bn, which is a 44.30 % increase from the N222bn budgeted for the year 2022. This year, the budget is made up of N192 billion for Capital and N127.5 billion for Recurrent expenditure.

While the budgetary figures may look high, on an adjusted inflation basis, it is only slightly higher than that of 2022.

The revenue estimates for the budget is based on a $70 per barrel benchmark for crude oil and average daily production of 1.69m barrels per day as well as an increase in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N60.4bn, owing to reforms in tax collection and land management activities.

Our intention is to push for reforms and revenue in the built environment. We are committed to boosting capital spending this year. To this end, we expect a capital/recurrent expenditure ratio of 60% to 40% respectively. This would reinvigorate the economy, providing the right impetus for the needed growth expected in the year.

The total projected revenue for 2023 is N300 billion, consisting of N144.26 billion statutory allocation, made up of Value Added Tax (VAT) of N41.2 billion; Capital receipts of 46.1bn; IGR, N60.4 billion and N4 billion from grants, among others. The balance of will be sourced from development financing and financial institutions.

OUR FOCUS IN 2023

The 2023 budget is informed by the need to build a resilient and sustainable foundation for the reforms, initiatives and programmes that we have embarked on in the last six years.

Our strategic goal is to utilize manufacturing, technology, agriculture, arts, culture and entertainment as the catalyst to promote sustained investment across all sectors of the Edo economy.

As we drive for economic growth, we will continue to pursue policies and programmes that ensure fair and balanced access to education, health care and social protection across the three senatorial districts of the state.

Public Private Partnership (PPP) will continue to dominate our investment initiatives in the new year.

Education

In the education sector, we have set out to deepen the reform of the EDOBEST basic education sector and would ensure the full operationalization of the disarticulated school system to ensure that our children learn stay in school for 9 years from primary one to JSS 3 and also acquire necessary skills to become globally competitive. Emphasis will be placed on building and staffing the proposed 20 technical colleges and other vocational training centers.

Infrastructure

In order to improve the business environment, we will be investing considerable amounts in improving our internal road network in the state, emphasising proper design and supervision of our contractors.

The Transport Masterplan will be implemented as provisions have been made for the take-off of the Transport Authority and construction of Bus Terminals and Trailer Parks in Benin City and Aviele.

The state electricity agency enabled by the new electricity law will receive N9bn to expand connections to government buildings and streetlights.

Health

In the health sector, we would sustain the gains made in delivery of primary healthcare and the Edo State Health Insurance Scheme. Over N5bn has been provided to improve the PHC infrastructure and staff the PHC Agency professionally. We would also be exploring a number of PPP arrangements to reposition secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities to work for the people. We expect to run the Auchi General Hospital on a PPP deal with Edo University, Uzairue. This ensures that the people in that axis of the state get the full benefit of using a standard tertiary medical centre.

Technology and Youth Enterprise

In 2023, we will continue to emphasize and invest in technology, which is why we hope to support the take-off of the permanent site for the Edo Tech Park and other Skills Development Initiatives so as to equip our youths with requisite skills to make Edo State the outsourcing capital of Africa. The skills development programme will benefit from partnerships with international partners, who have expressed readiness to work with us in building technical skills across Local Government Areas in the state.

We have shown a rare knack for deploying technology in the government. This is why we have and are investing in the infrastructure and software to ensure technology adoption across the service. We would be expanding the Edo-Gov 2.0 interface with
– Oracle, e-Procurement, GIS, ERAS, all geared towards ensuring that the business of government is done swiftly and revenue administration is enhanced to meet set targets. Our goal is that by the end of 2023 up to 30% of government services will be offered online.

Human Resource Development

In order to achieve our goal of building the most agile and efficient public service in West Africa, we will continue to train our workforce and cater to their welfare. We are intensifying hiring of the best hands across board, through the efficient implementation of our HR Strategy, Performance Management System and Learning & Development Plan. This ensures that the John Odigie Oyegun Training Academy lives up to its expectations and serves to train civil servants in the best way possible for optimum service delivery. We are also enhancing and expanding the workspace for MDAs across the State.

Security and safety

We are prioritizing public safety and security with the war against land-grabbing and deepening the reach of the Edo State Security Network for better community policing and intelligence gathering. These programmes are key to unlocking more economic growth, as we understand the need for a secure environment to drive tourism and other aspects of our economic transformation drive. We have made provision for training and purchase of more security equipment to support our security services.

Economic development

We have completed our Masterplan to promote Tourism and will be prioritizing the development of the cultural district. To this end, we have made a provision of N2bn to support the construction of the Benin Royal Museum and the N1bn for the Cultural District.

APPRECIATION

On this note, I want to thank all Edo people, as they have stood firm and reposed unwavering faith and support in our government, supporting our vision to create a resilient, vibrant and inclusive state.

It is pertinent that I thank market women, traders, artisans, youths, civil society groups, traditional rulers, religious leaders, organized private sector, government workers and all others too numerous to mention, who continue to pray and appreciate the effort we put in transforming Edo State. I want to assure them that we would continue to listen to their concerns and yearnings and assure that we would never let any of them as we gradually start to close the curtain on my administration.

I specially express appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, for his avuncular role and leadership in setting the country on the path of growth and progress.

It is with a heart filled with joy that I specially thank our father, the Oba of the great Benin Kingdom, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, for his advice, guidance and support.

I appreciate the leadership of our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and our leaders and members across the state. They have been a solid pillar and continue to play a crucial role in realising the plans set in the MEGA manifesto.

Mr. Speaker and honourable members, it is my pleasure and honour to present to you, the Edo State 2023 Appropriation Bill of N320.4 billion, and details of the Budget proposal for your consideration and approval”

Thank you for your kind attention.

Godwin Obaseki
Governor, Edo State

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Food Security: Coalition of CSOs Extol Agric Minister for revolutionizing sector

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The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, COCSON, Friday, hailed the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, over policies driven to boost food security and crash high food prices.

The commendation was made during a press conference held in Abuja, where the spokesman, COCSON, Adebayo Oluwaseun, on behalf of the Coalition acknowledged and appreciated the Minister while noting that the leadership he has demonstrated since his appointment had impacted positively on the agricultural sector as he is currently revolutionizing the industry and ensuring Nigeria and Nigerians are food secure.

According to Oluwaseun, the Minister has been committed to the implementation of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan, NATIP, which has been instrumental in modernizing the agricultural space, whereby there have been technological advancements and empowerment of smallholder farmers across the country.

He said: “It is with great pride and a profound sense of optimism that we, the members of COCSON, gather here today to applaud the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, for his exceptional leadership and the transformative impact he has had on the agricultural landscape of our beloved country, Nigeria.

“Since his appointment, Minister Abubakar has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to driving positive change, implementing bold initiatives, and positioning the agricultural sector as a key driver of economic growth and sustainable development in Nigeria.”

According to COCSON, the Minister has empowered women and youth in the agricultural sector, including initiatives to provide specialized capacity building and access to financing, and giving opportunities to underrepresented groups, enabling them to become active contributors to the sector’s growth and development.

“The Minister’s unwavering support for women and youth in agriculture has been truly transformative. By investing in their skills, knowledge, and entrepreneurial spirit, he has not only empowered these crucial demographics but also paved the way for a more inclusive and sustainable agricultural ecosystem in Nigeria.

“The coalition is confident that under your stewardship, the sector will continue to thrive, contributing to the country’s food security, economic prosperity, and sustainable development.

“Kyari’s dedication, innovation, and tireless efforts have truly set a new standard for agricultural leadership in Nigeria. We, the members of COCSON, pledge our unwavering support and commitment to working alongside the Minister to further strengthen the agricultural sector and realize our collective vision of a prosperous, food-secure, and environmentally sustainable Nigeria”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Secretary, COCSON, Fatima Usman, “Under Minister Abubakar’s leadership, the NATIP has been a game-changer, revolutionizing the way we approach agriculture in Nigeria.

“Through this innovative plan, we have witnessed a remarkable increase in crop yields, improved access to cutting-edge farming techniques, and the creation of numerous job opportunities for our youth in the agricultural value chain.”

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EFCC’s ‘Slouchy Utterances’ Against Bello: MPPR Condemns Agency’s Bias, Calls for Fair Play

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….Says chairman should tell Nigerians why he wants Bello to follow the back door to see him?

Leadership of the Movement for the Protection of People’s Rights MPPR on Friday, disclosed that slouchy statements from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Boss, Mr. Ola Olukoyede on the person of Yahaya Bello has continued to show that the chances of justice for the latter are very slim.

In a statement jointly signed by Comrade Musa Abdullahi, the Secretary General and Comrade Abiola Adegbite, Dir, Media & Publicity, the group warned the anti-graft agency boss to quit looking for ways to bring in Yahaya Bello via backdoor.

It read: “Since the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) in 2002, its activities have elicited both support and suspicion in the fight to tackle graft cases in Nigeria. Patriotic citizens from all walks of life have consistently stood by the EFCC in the difficult mandate given to it through an Act of the National Assembly.

“Going through the recent press statement issued by the EFCC in which it has accused an imaginary named former Governor and two ex- ministers of spearheading a planned protest against the Commission is not only baseless, absurd but also cowardly. The story credited to the EFCC giving credence to some faceless 259 civil society organisations under the aegis of nonexistent Coalition for Transparency is a disgrace carried too far in the anti- graft war in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

“With the story credited to the EFCC, one would think that the Commission was deliberately fashioned for lies, gross mischief, and drain pipe purpose – a channel of deception and castration of Nigeria’s puberty. From all indications, the groups being celebrated by the EFCC are either the creation of the Commission or the agency cash and carry, non existent nor unregistered NGOs/ CSOs arrangement and hatchet jobbers with them on retainership basis. Not long ago, one of such beneficiaries wrote a petition to the National Judicial Council,( NJC) against a Judge handling the case between the EFCC and a former Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello. Sadly, the author of the said petition to the NJC was once arrested and charged to court by the Nigeria Police for mischief, falsehood, and frivolous claims against a former Attorney-General of the Federation. What a shame and a coincidence for the EFCC- to be hobnobbing with such a disgruntled and malicious character parading himself as an activist.Has the EFCC forgotten the ethos of crime101 of profiling and carrying out due diligence of any of its friends before association?

“Rather than remain a vile witness of dishonour, false alarms, arbitrariness and politicization of the anti- graft war, we must posit that the era of fighting the anti-corruption war with disobedience to court orders, selective prosecution, intimidation, gestapo like arrests, defamation of character and blackmail are gone forever with the wind. The Commission should rather concentrate its energy on the investigation of N23 billion Kano- Maiduguri abandoned rail line contract, the CCTV contract scam awarded for Lagos and Abuja worth over USD100 million, monies in billions spent by NDDC, the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry’s mind boggling “N729 billion” fraud, among others and also during the COVID-19 lock down.

“Consequently, they also have an obligation to identify the Nigerian government officials who have been collecting bribes and perpetuating money laundering through Bitcoins platforms since 2016. But they all left these serious state matters in the coolers to go after a politically assumed enemy and a juggernaut who has become a rallying point for the youths in Nigeria and a formidable ally of Mr President. These are all in a bid, to please their monstrous paymasters and retain the office of the Chairman of the EFCC. How long will Olukayode be using unethical methods and gestapo like arrests and movements to persecute and hound Yahaya Bello in order to please his self-serving ambition and cohorts

“Nigeria is a country founded on constitutional democracy, anchored on the rule of law and due process. Therefore, we challenge the EFCC to disclose the identity of the ex-Governor and two former ministers spearheading the concocted protest against the EFCC, including the venue and time where the meeting took place. They must furnish Nigerians with details of the attendance list of the meeting and the money earmarked for the imaginary and phantom protest as alleged! How can the Commission stoop so low to embark on the dissemination of such hearsay, falsehood, orchestrated plots, red imaginary shadows, misrepresentation and innuendos without due process and the rule of law? The EFCC has become the accuser, prosecutor, and judge in its own case. What a misnomer?

“We must state categorically, to those who are either ignorant of the law establishing the agency or trying to display some affinity with the arrogance of the EFCC to note the motive behind the creation of the Commission wasn’t meant for the abuse of prosecutorial powers or usurp political authority. This presupposes that the Commission and its agents must act in accordance with the constitution and civil conduct in the discharge of their duties in consonance with the rule of law and civility in all its obligations to the citizenry, but the reverse is now the case under the present leadership.

“We wish to ask the EFCC some salient questions relevant to the handling of their case against Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello. Why are they shopping for a pliable judge to handle their persecution of Bello? Contrary to the standing operational procedure? Why did the Chairman place a call directly to Bello and want him to follow the back door if there is no hidden agenda? What was the motive behind the Chairman’s placement of direct call to Bello? Why was he interested in ushering him via the Chairman’s special entrance gate and exclusive door? A back door arrangement that Bello rejected outright till date has become his being hounded regrettably!

“This brings us to the shadow boxing placement of Bello on the watch list of Interpol. The apt description of the action of the EFCC in this regard can be described as ultravires, premeditated, teleguided, and an agenda for settling scores, having an axe to grind

“It is a big shame, ridiculous and embarrassing for obvious reasons, the EFCC is granting interviews and issuing statements in a clearer attempt to ambush and preempt judicial officers handling their case against Bello who are already in various courts of competent jurisdiction. What a shameless act by the agency!

“The EFCC must desist from further overheating the polity, from undemocratic and unconstitutional practices in the handling of this case and others. The era of plotting shenanigans and suffocating excuses in the fight against graft is over. Therefore, all cases before the courts must be allowed to be exhausted in full and the outcome decided. The anti-graft body must not be seen to probate and reprobate in a desperate bid to crucify any accused persons under investigation or prosecution under its watch. Actions of resorting to self-help, amounts to prejudicial and subjudicial, that are entrenchently intolerable in terms of both legal and moral compliance.

“Only an institution that has abandoned its core mandate would embark on a proxy war, name calling, and grandstanding. Blaming white witches and village people for their incompetence, lack of due diligence, and unprofessional conduct. Wasting taxpayers’ monies on wild goose chase that would lead Nigerians to no where, except the land of voodoo warriors insinuating about planned and sponsored protests against the EFCC

“For the umpteenth time, let us state that the placement of Bello on the watch list, which is already before the court, is mischievous, self-serving, arbitrarily obnoxious and devoid of fairness.
It is on this ground that we are urging the Chairman of the EFCC to resign from office forthwith due to his inability to discharge his mandate without fear, favour, and biases.

“Let us make it abundantly clear that natural justice is anchored in the will of Almighty God taught to mankind. The EFCC should always act with fear of God devoid of sentiments and preferential treatment of requesting suspects to see the Chief Prosecutor through his special backdoor. Nigerians are still waiting for explanation on other high suspects granted such merited or unmerited favours. The criteria used for the selection process and the fate of those who accepted and others who rejected such private gestures! The Nigerian people are interested in the overall outcome of what transpired during both day and night visits through the Chairman’s exclusive door!

“Finally, the desperate agenda to crucify Bello amounts to giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. The constant review of human regulations and laws is evidence of civility, as Edmund Burke aptly captures it plainly when he said, “Bad laws are worst sort of tyranny.”

“The EFCC has goofed once again and should explain to Nigerians the extant rule of the exclusive backdoor passage, which Yahaya Bello declined and rejected.

“We therefore call on the International Community, Donor Agencies and Partners to dispassionately read in between the lines in terms of the backdoor arrangement/exclusivity offered by the Chairman of EFCC to Bello and the glaring double – standards and inconsistencies in the handling of the anti-graft war as it relates to politically exposed persons in Nigeria!

“With the above, the Chairman of EFCC has no moral right to stay a day longer in office as the Chairman of the agency!”

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Lawmakers’/Stakeholders Support Creation of Anioma State , Senator Nwoko Reveals

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Senator representing Delta North, Ned Nwoko has revealed massive support from Delta, South East Senators and other stakeholders for the creation of Anioma state

 

He said the creation of the long sought Anioma State will correct perceived marginalisation of south east geo-political zone.

It will be recalled that a bill to create Anioma state had passed first reading in the Senate on July 2.

Speaking in an interview in Abuja on Wednesday, the sponsor of the bill, Nwoko said the bill seeks to alter provisions of 1999 Constitution (as amended) to create Anioma state.

Senator Nwoko said the south-east geopolitical zone currently has five states, unlike its counterparts, which have six each, except for the North- West, which has seven states.

Revealing that the creation of Anioma state has received wide support from major stakeholders, Nwoko said the two other senators from Delta state, Ede Dafinone (Delta Central and Joel-Onowakpo Thomas (Delta South) support the creation of the state. For me, that is a big support.

“I have gotten support from most of the senators from the south east as well and I know that I will get support from across the country.

“The Izu Anioma, which is the umbrella group of all Aniomas are saying we want it, the Ikpe Anioma says we want it.”

Nwoko dismissed report by a group alleging that he did not consult wildly before presenting the bill for creation of Anioma state for first reading.

He said the call for creation of Anioma state was timely and has to happen for various reasons, adding that the eventual creation will address years of concerns, challenges of Ndigbo in Nigeria.

“The most important one is that there is the urgent need to address the injustice, the years of crying of marginalisation by Ndigbo generally.

“It is a huge population in Nigeria, but they only have five states, and so, it will make six states of Ndigbo.

“It is a very long fight, for the quest for Anioma has taken 50 years from the time of Dennis Osadebe.

“There may not be many states created in Nigeria under this dispensation, but certainly, there is an urgent need to create one to address the imbalance.

“It is hoped that when it is done it will assuage the cries of the Igbos because since after the war there has been so many cries of been marginalised of injustice.

“So it is only equitable that it is done because it will deal with the crisis, the killings the violence, the seat at home issues among other issues.”

He said there was the need to bring a lasting solution to issues in the region. “We are looking at finding the solution to crisis, you don’t create a state for the fun of it, no, you create a state to address a particular issue of concern”.

He said Nigeria now has a president who is determined to right wrongs of the past, because it is important to do so and “the government want to solve the problem of the south east”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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