Insecurity: Obasanjo’s letter vindicates us, PDP tells Buhari; admonishes him to hearken to voice of reason

Insecurity: Obasanjo’s letter vindicates us, PDP tells Buhari; admonishes him to hearken to voice of reason

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday said the latest open letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari on the worsening insecurity and unrestrained bloodletting in the country, has vindicated its position and that of millions of Nigerians that Buhari had failed as the nation’s chief security officer.

The opposition party, therefore, urged President Buhari to listen to Obasanjo.

This is even as the party described the open letter as patriotic, momentous and one that “captures the apprehensions of majority of Nigerians across the board.”

In a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party noted that President Obasanjo’s letter “reechoes its numerous cautions against the violations, insensitivity, impunity, vindictiveness, divisiveness, intolerance and dangerous sectionalism that characterise the Buhari administration and which are jeopardizing our national unity.”

PDP urged President Buhari to “read between the lines and listen to the voice of reason from well-meaning Nigerians at this moment.

The statement continued: “Our party is deeply worried that our nation, which grew in leaps and bounds in all sectors before the All Progressives Congress (APC) took over in 2015, is now dangerously sliding on all fronts under President Buhari, who has shown crass incompetence in managing our national affairs.”

The PDP maintained that had President Buhari heeded wise counsel to re-jig his parade and respect the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians in the national interest, Nigeria would not have been on this dangerous bend.

“The fact remains that President Buhari has not demonstrated the capacity to lead a nation as complex as our Nigeria. Events have shown that he cannot handle our diversities and ensure a united and equitable country that guarantees fairness, justice and space to all citizens without fear or favour.

“The PDP therefore counsels President Buhari to listen to the pulse of our nation; accept his failure and seek help from other well-meaning Nigerians so as to take back our nation from this imminent precipice.”

The party also called on all Nigerians across divides, irrespective of creed, ethnicity and political leaning, to close ranks, eschew all primordial and parochial interests and work together for the stability of the nation.

Why Obasanjo’s Letters Always Gain Relevance Among Nigerians –Ogunye

Why Obasanjo’s Letters Always Gain Relevance Among Nigerians –Ogunye

Barrister Jiti Ogunye, a constitutional lawyer and public affairs analyst,  is the Principal Counsel, Jiti Ogunye Chambers. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he spoke on former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter and his proposed Coalition for Nigerian Movement and other issues. Excerpts:

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo in his letter to President Muhammadu Buhari asked him to honourably dismount from the horse and not bother seeking reelection in 2019. Do you think this advice should be heeded by the president?

First, I think that a lot of people are rather angry that the advice is coming from former president Olusegun Obasanjo.  They regard him as hypocritical, self-serving, holier-than-thou and overbearing bordering on dictatorship.  Some have even accused him of suffering from messianic complex, I am the best and people who have come after me don’t know anything about governance.  That is the criticism of many because those that Obasanjo arranged to succeed him in power weren’t fit for the purpose, either because they were ill, most unfortunately allegedly to Obasanjo’s knowledge when he foisted them on the party, PDP and on Nigeria being their willing campaign manager or because of lack of seriousness in an otherwise serious environment of governance.  He has been accused of being a failure on that score alone, not to talk of the policies that he himself implemented when he was in government.  Those criticising him are more or less saying that the teacher is not qualified to teach or ‘Teacher, don’t teach me nonsense’. But I have publicly argued that even if we are to look towards the Scriptures and hearken to the injunction therein which says that ‘ What you are desperate to hear from the wise and prudent, sometimes it comes from the babes and the sucklings’.  In this part of the world, the Yoruba will say that sometimes, what you are anxious to hear from the wise or from the mouth of the sane, may come from the mouth of the madman.  So for me, there is a distinction between Obasanjo the person and the message he has given.

Barrister Jiti Ogunye
Photo: Barrister Jiti Ogunye

Why do you say that?

What Chief Obasanjo has said is not what the ordinary people are now saying. Indeed, I regard him as a fantastic collator, as a person who deftly has assembled the gory facts of our national existence at this time and has delivered a message of pervading hopelessness on the country.  He has travelled through all that afflict us such as poor economic management, disastrous foreign policy, nepotism in government, worsening ethnic relation in the country, clashes between herdsmen and farmers and the  state of insecurity which is very alarming now all over the country.  We were told that Boko Haram has been degraded and technically defeated but we still see what they do. Each time they strike, government spokespersons say they are only attacking soft targets as if those soft targets are not human beings that should be protected.  Also to be mentioned is the anti-corruption war which has suffered some kind of reversal because of obvious nepotism, some people being regarded as sacred cows. So, Obasanjo has collated all these and my expectations are that government should sit down ask itself sincerely: What is Obasanjo saying? What are Nigerians saying?  What areas require urgent remediation? How do we have a more prosperous, united union for our country?  The issue of restructuring by the APC panel which they really don’t want to initially but which they are now goaded to revisiting.  In the manifesto, you promised that we are going to have devolution of powers, restructuring, state police and all that but now, they have to be reminded that it is a promise they made in their manifesto. They denied it but eventually they set up a committee which has now turned in a report to the party. So, how do you then get the government of the APC to accept these recommendations and then move the discussion forward? I think these are the things that the government should look to.

What is your perspective on the response by the FG through the Minister of Information?

The blandish throwback of economic indices and data that is usually the knee-jerk response of government won’t help in this situation.  You can throw up your economic indices and data showing that the economy is improving fantastically. You can talk about the Stock Exchange that is rated very high by western countries, all I know is that wages have not increased, people are spending more now to buy less, and things are costlier now than they were before. For those who are making comparism between locally produced rice and imported rice in terms of price to show that those imported bags of rice were costlier than the locally produced ones. Do you expect a bag of rice that is produced in Nigeria to be costlier than the one that is imported with import duties and so on?  Those are not the arguments you should throw up.  Parents find it difficult now taking care of their children. It is more difficult for people to go to school now. So, this government of Change should look at all these.  We miss the point when we just say to hell with Obasanjo and his bad verses.  Assuming Obasanjo was opportunistic in writing that letter, if there were no issues for him to write about, if this government had delivered on its promises to Nigerians, he will be sounding stupid writing those letters. The letter will not gain any resonance in the polity. In fact, Nigerians will dismiss him as somebody who has lost his mind because what he wrote in his letter is so different from the reality on ground.  But his letters always gain resonance because of what is on the ground.  The only caveat I have is that now that these analyses have been made, what is the solution?

What is your take on Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigerian Movement?

Even if we are top take the model of the ramshackle liberal democracy we claim that we are practicing, Obasanjo’s recommendations is outside the framework of what his Coalition for Nigeria, which may then transmute into a political party and then contests election at which stage he said he will then withdraw because he wants to continue to play the role of an elder statesman having said earlier than he is done with partisan politics.  He even said in that letter that those who must be willing to participate in his conceived Coalition for Nigeria must come from all walks of life.  Given the follow-ups to that letter, we learn that politicians across the two political parties (APC and PDP) are being wooed to participate in this coalition.  That part is a path that is fraught with danger because it is a recipe for recycling those who have caused our nightmares in the last 19 years of our democracy.  As you now realise, the APC is not too different radically from the PDP. In any case, those who are in PDP before are now in APC now and some of them are giving the hint that ‘if their people asked them to go back to their home in PDP,  they will go’.  If you are asking those who are disgruntled about the Buhari administration to now find their ways into this coalition for Nigeria, what you are going to have is still chieftains of the political class  of Nigeria cohabiting in this coalition for Nigeria and then bidding for power being posed as an alternative. My own suggestion is that you have all these political parties in Nigeria and INEC is complaining now that they are unwieldy. These political parties should do some serious soul- searching realistically since they have to play mass politics and not office projects, staying in one office and issuing press statements and deluding themselves that they are mass-based political parties. Isn’t it time that they merge based on ideological affinity and political similarity. In other words, they should go back to play the APC playbook now that they still have time.  All of them must start talking to one another right now and say ‘we should be the alternative’ and then the Nigerian people can then see the alternative to the APC and PDP and not what Obasanjo is recommending.www.independent.ng

New Imo ENTRACO flags off Go Green, Stay Clean campaign …Declares zero tolerance for dirty environment

New Imo ENTRACO flags off Go Green, Stay Clean campaign …Declares zero tolerance for dirty environment

By Magnus Ibe

The new State General Manager of Environmental Transformation Commission (ENTRACO), Sir Alex Emeziem has admonished Imolites and residents to embrace the new philosophy of the nascent Governor Emeka Ihedioha regime on propagating hygiene, cleanliness and environmental aesthetics of the state so as to promote the beauty of the state by planting flowers and trees and shun improper disposal of waste to avoid diseases that may emanate there from.

He disclosed this while addressing select group of Journalists during a facility visitation around the state capital on Friday June 21st 2019. According to him, “Go Green, Stay Clean” is a concerted efforts of the State Government geared towards keeping the state clean by planting flowers and ornamental trees at strategic locations so as to beautify the state capital and recover its loss glory; promotion of cleanliness which he described as close to Godliness and propagation of lofty health ideals through proper waste management

Photo: Sir Emeziem and other address the press

He condemned the despicable conduct of dumping refuse with reckless abandon. He warned that offenders will be met with the full weight of the law. According to him, the state has employed about “600 road sweepers who receive emoluments not lesser than the new minimum wage. Sir Emeziem the new ENTRACO General Manager unfolded plan by the agency to embark on what he described as “door to door refuge collection” by staff of the Agency at regular intervals. He also canvassed for tagging off refuse.

According to him, the task of keeping the state “Green and clean” should involve everyone and all tiers of government as outbreak of diseases from dirty environment does not discriminate. He sued for public awareness and promised to give the outfit a human face. He promised to partner necessary agencies towards effective disposal of wastes; beautification of the Owerri Capital city and the various Local Governments as models of good environments should be concern of all.

The ENTRACO General Manager disclosed that the State Government has inaugurated a committee which has 10 days mandate to provide solution to blocked drainages and obstructions on channels that enhance water flow. He promised to close illegal motor parks which litter the state capital. He cautioned that the agency will step on toes, hence he need to sensitize the people against the practice of establishing diverse business outfits at undesignated areas. He promised to give the new ENTRACO a human face as opposed to what obtained during the tenure of the last regime.

Ihedioha’s state of emergency on infrastructure in Imo exposes Okorocha’s ignorance

Ihedioha’s state of emergency on infrastructure in Imo exposes Okorocha’s ignorance

By Ogu Bundu Nwadike

It’s no longer news that, at long last, the governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, has declared a state of emergency on dilapidated physical infrastructure in Imo State.

 Initial focus is on roads and basic social amenities that are in terrible conditions.

Incidentally, soon after the declaration of the state of emergency on infrastructure, Rochas Okorocha, the controversial ex-governor, and his agents came out with a faux pas and shot themselves badly on the feet.

They shamed and disgraced Rochas by showing that he didn’t know the meaning of infrastructure.

While every sincere, sane and normal person in Imo State knows that there is gross paucity of physical infrastructure in Imo State, warranting the declaration of state of emergency, Rochas and Company feign ignorance and lack of knowledge and understanding of that. Yet, Rochas was governor for eight years!

Is it not preposterous that Rochas’ sense of infrastructure begins and ends with sand, cement, bricks and slabs, wood and zinc structures? Is it not perplexing that Rochas believed that roundabouts, squares and centres, fronts and falls, statues and images were infrastructure?

In 2011, at the highly regrettable advent of Rochas as Imo governor, his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, bequeathed him with heavy duty machinery and equipment that were procured for the maintenance of rural roads in the 27 LGAs of Imo State. The supervising agency was the Imo State Rural Road Maintenance Agency (IRROMA).

Chief Ohakim handed over to Rochas some machinery and equipment for the promotion of agricultural revolution. He gave Rochas some intra-city buses owned by the government and people of Imo State.

That’s not all. Chief Ohakim handed Rochas a State with the record as the cleanest State in Nigeria and by extension, Africa. He bequeathed to Rochas a sound civil service, local government system, 10,000 gazetted and remunerated jobs for Imo youths, high quality education, good quality hospitals and healthcare centres, public water supply.

Chief Ohakim initiated the construction of two flyover bridges in Orji and Amakohia but didn’t complete them.

What Rochas Okorocha was ignorant of and oblivious about was that what Chief Ikedi Ohakim handed over to him were physical infrastructure.

Indeed, Rochas confirmed that truly ignorance is a killer-disease. Ironically, ignorance destroyed him politically and turned him into an object or subject for carricature.

The same condition of ignorance caused Rochas to loot and convert IRROMA machinery and equipment to his private estate.

Ignorance led him to destroy the free flow of public water supply. Ignorance led him to begin a “free education” he knew nothing about, leading to the fallen standard of education in Imo State. Ignorance led Rochas to destroy the waste disposal and management system of which he looted and converted the machinery and equipment for that as handed over to him by Chief Ohakim.

Ignorance made Rochas to destroy the health sector, hospitals and healthcare centres, only to float the elephant projects that he called 27 General Hospitals, which he abandoned as uncompleted projects.

Ignorance made Rochas to convert to his own property the intra-city buses he received from Ohakim.

Ignorance caused Rochas to sack a democratically elected local government administration and set up a‘ohashierism’ Community Government Council (CGC).

Ignorance led Rochas to quash the employment of 10,000 youths into the civil service of Imo State and he never succeeded in employing anybody in real terms thereafter.

Ignorance made Rochas to neglect and abandon the roads in Imo State, particularly the rural roads for which the brand new IRROMA machinery and equipment were procured.

Ignorance caused Rochas to detest respect for rule of law and due process. If I continue to list what ignorance contributed to the failure of Rochas in Imo State, night will fall and day will dawn!

Governor Ihedioha, within his first 30 days in office has assessed the grossly dilapidated condition of Imo State and concluded that there is no ‘mekwatarism’ to the havoc caused by Rochas to deny Imo State and Imo people everything good.

He has decided to declare a state of emergency on infrastructure. That is the way to go. You don’t continue to pour water into a badly leaking jerry can. You discard it and get a new one that’s not leaking. That’s what Governor Ihedioha has done.

Rochas and Company criticized the decision very unfairly, describing it as state of emergency on stomach infrastructure.

I sized up the opinions of some reputable pundits and they feel that both on physical infrastructure and stomach infrastructure, Rochas failed himself and Imo people.

The pundits express support for the decision by Governor Ihedioha, urging him to add stomach infrastructure to physical infrastructure in the state of emergency.

They were of the view that in real terms, the primary purpose of government is the provision of good quality physical infrastructure and stomach infrastructure. They argue that on both types of infrastructure, Rochas was a failure.

It’s on that point of view by people of Imo State that I draw the curtain on this short essay.

.Nwadike is the Special Assistant on Research to the Governor of Imo State

PARTNERING WITH WOMEN AND YOUTH FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN IMO STATE BEING A KEYNOTE SPEECH BY RT. HON. EMEKA IHEDIOHA CON, GOVERNOR, IMO STATE, AT THE 7TH PROF. CELESTINE ONWULIRI MEMORIAL LECTURE SERIES ON 28TH JUNE , 2019

PARTNERING WITH WOMEN AND YOUTH FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN IMO STATE BEING A KEYNOTE SPEECH BY RT. HON. EMEKA IHEDIOHA CON, GOVERNOR, IMO STATE, AT THE 7TH PROF. CELESTINE ONWULIRI MEMORIAL LECTURE SERIES ON 28TH JUNE , 2019

PROTOCOLS

Introduction

May I first thank Prof. Viola Onwuliri for inviting me to this 7th Prof. Celestine Onwuliri memorial lecture and also according me the honoured responsibility of delivering the Keynote speech at this event.  

I would like to note that since taking over the mantle of leadership of our State, which of course I found in unquantifiable ruins, this is my first public lecture. I am glad it is in honour of one of our very best and a rare patriot, Prof. C.E.O Onwuliri, who left us painfully in 2012.

When Prof Viola spoke to me about the possibility of my delivering this keynote speech, I did not hesitate but readily accepted not minding what my programmes may be on that date. I accepted because of my firm belief in the need to honour those who have excelled in both public and private life whether they are alive or dead. This sincerely, I found an intriguing impetus for the rest of us to take public life serious as history will always be there as a compass for our judgement at the appropriate time. I also accepted the invitation because those that know me well will tell of my desire for gender and youth inclusion in development, my belief in their respective capacities and the need to advance their cause through affirmative action.

Distinguished audience, I have been asked to speak on the topic “Partnering with women and youth for economic growth and sustainable development in Imo State”. The topic is quite apt and timely. It also squarely fits into the vision of our administration. Recall that in my inaugural speech, I devoted a section of the speech to restate our commitment to women and youth in our quest to rebuild Imo. I said “our government shall be sensitive to gender issues, and ensure gender equity in government appointments and activities. We shall equip Imo women and youth with resources, micro-credits, skills training and entrepreneurship programmes to ensure productive undertakings”. This is our agenda and our vision for women and youth in Imo State. In line with my commitment to my inauguration speech as Governor of Imo State, I hereby restate that our government, working with its partners and friends, will seek ways of harnessing our youthful population and women folk in a manner that releases their best potentials for sustainable growth and economic development. It also gives me great pleasure to be here today to hear from you, interact with you and hopefully, together, forge a way forward to our collective aspirations as N’dimo.

Background

Women and Youth constitute a greater segment of the active population in Africa particularly in Nigeria. Over time this critical component of the active population has not been adequately empowered to be productive and to contribute its quota to national development. This situation has continued to be a cog in the wheel of our economic growth.

According to available figures from the last census conducted in the state and projections there from, more than half the population of Imo State is between the ages of 15 – 64 years old, with a 49.7% versus 50.3% split between the population of women and men respectively. This means that across the 27 local governments, the youth population contributes at least a larger percentage of the population. What this implies is that using a working definition of Youth as defined in the African Youths Charter (adopted by UNESCO) to mean ‘’every person between the ages of 15 and 35’’, women and youths constitute a proportion of Imo State that cannot be overlooked in the scheme of policy initiation and implementation in the state.

Unfortunately, these demographic groups have generally been under-served by previous governments in this state and have generally been treated as burdens, hence they are treated like recipients of occasional handouts from government rather than being equal stakeholders in the task of socio-economic development.

The 2019 estimated population of Imo State is 5,953,610 with approximately 67% under the age of 30years, with a substantial percentage out of work. It therefore makes it imperative for something urgent to done to improve the skills and productivity of this segment of our population. If this is the case, then we have crisis in our hands, if nothing urgent is done to address the growing unemployment due to lack of opportunities. I do not intend to sound alarmist, but something practical has to be done, imminently so.

Therefore, the economic advancement of our State as envisaged in the blueprint of the new government must recognize the implications of these demographics. Any economic planning without considering the improvement of livelihood and capacity building, targeting this important segment of our population would be adjudged short sighted. In the industrialization and agricultural drive for Imo State, one of our major policy thrusts is the absorption  of our talented and industrious women and youths. In this partnership, we cannot afford to exclude any demographic group.

It is for this reason that our government is designing a programme to resuscitate and revitalize the four technical schools and our vocational colleges to provide our youth with the necessary skills required to galvanize industrialization of the State and equally make them wealth creators than dependants. We shall reform the entire educational sector to enthrone quality , effectiveness and functionality to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Helen Clark of United Nations Development Programme in a report noted that ‘Africa’s large youth population presents an enormous opportunity for development’. I posit that as much as it presents an enormous opportunity, it also poses a clear and present danger, if untapped. I also subscribe to the view that by harnessing the potential of Africa’s youth by investing in education, skills development, and other social initiatives, we can reap enormous dividends and spur the continent’s development. We are determined to provide education suited to the ICT fueled blue, green and grey economies of the future; an example being the partnership with Microsoft on the training of 200 women and girls from across the 27 local governments areas as  already happening at CBT in Imo State University, IMSU, and will be ongoing for about 12 weeks with focus on the knowledge of coding, web design, mobile apps and basic ICT for adult women.

Interestingly, in a study in 2013 entitled State of Women in Cities, it was noted clearly that women are the pivotal drivers of commercial growth and that wealth in their hands leads to much more equitable outcomes in terms of quality of life for families and communities. The same study advocates the imperative that women and men should enjoy equal rights and opportunities in cities on moral/ethical economic and political grounds. This will not only engender women’s well-being but it will increase their individual and collective prosperity as well as the prosperity of the cities”. Women should be given equal opportunities. Indeed asking for it diminishes our estimations of our women who I strongly believe can compete with our men on any front.

I am a strong advocate of the age long axiom that when you train a woman, you train a nation. It is therefore on these premises of necessity, backed by age-long empirical evidence that we as a government shall focus on women and the youth as potential forces to drive economic growth and sustainable development in our State.

Incidentally, women were in the fore front of my campaign for office, toiling day and night to deliver the new Imo, with limitless opportunities. Youths on their part, were the foundation of carrying our message to the people.

It is also based on these indisputable facts that global bodies such as the United Nations and its agencies, World Health Organization (WHO), International Labour Organization (ILO), UNESCO, etc, focuses attention on women and young people as critical change agents towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Despite prospects, we have real challenges

Women and the youths have played an important role in the repositioning of political leadership in Imo State. Many of our erudite women have excelled in political offices, in business, education , Science and Technology, and indeed all sectors of the Nigerian economy. This display of capacity is evidential proof that incorporating women and young people in the Rebuild Imo Project will be mutually beneficial. Given that women and young people are key participants in the different sectors of the Imo State economy such as Healthcare, Transportation, Education, Civil service and the private sector, the Rebuild Imo Project shall lay emphasis on carrying our women and youths along as they bring much to the table when economic growth and sustainable development is the case in point.

To properly address the subject matter, we must acknowledge the real challenges we face in the State. In doing this, an analysis of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and perceived threats will be imperative and set the pace for engaging with these challenges.

In terms of strength, Imo state has arguably the most educated female population in Nigeria. We also have the highest school enrolment in the country, highest number of candidates for Senior School Certificate Examinations as well as the Universities and Tertiary Institutions Matriculation Examination (UTME). We are constantly inundated with news of the successes of our intelligent and high flying youth of both gender in the national results of WAEC, JAMB, UTME, and at graduation from universities and post graduate programmes across the world. This continues to underscore the educational acumen of our youths and it is a quality our government has taken note of and will exploit for the benefit of our people.

This correlates with the number of Imo indigenes graduating annually and participating in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Such endowment is indicative of inert strength. 

In terms of weaknesses, the present administration has inherited a situation where youth unemployment is at an all-time high.  Education, which used to be the pride of the State has been made less functional than it was a decade ago. Participation in sports among young people is fast declining, leaving out lots of energy and time for nefarious and unwholesome activities, which some engage in.

Our opportunities abound in the strength and quality of our population teeming with millions of educated and naturally endowed women and young people, participating actively in various aspects of the economy. Such demographics and zeal can be compared to a “loaded gun”. Armed with these key ingredients, we only need to effectively and efficiently implement our blue print for a developed and prosperous Imo State.

It would be insincere if we do not acknowledge the fact that our plans for a revamped Imo State using the instrumentality of our women and youths is subject to threatening factors. Given the lack of direction in policy formulation and implementation as well as the arbitrariness of development planning in the past few years, there is a lacuna that must first be filled before tangible development can take place.

However, we have taken the right steps so far by virtue of our blue print as articulated in my Manifesto and by the Transition Technical Committee. It is worthy of note that the appointments in the government so far has taken the foregoing facts into consideration. An all-inclusive government featuring women and young people in positions of trust is what we have tried to do so far. In the recently constituted Interim Management Committees of Local Governments, we made sure that Our Youths and Women were involved as equal partners. As more of our appointments are made, Women and Youths will be accommodated as joint stakeholders in project Rebuild Imo.

Ladies and gentlemen, without sounding immodest it might interest you to know that prior to my election as Governor, I had spent twelve remarkable years in the National Assembly facilitating programmes that empowered women and youth using several federal government agencies. The litany of these programmes are available for any interested person as I do not intend to bore you with the details here.

I assure you, therefore, that in Imo under my watch there will be no glass ceilings for women and youth or heights which they are not permitted to attain. I dream of an Imo State where women are not marginalized because of their gender or for any reason at all. I dream of an Imo State where the youths are properly educated and up-skilled to engage the challenges of the 21st Century. I dream of an Imo State where healthcare and various social services are available not only to the privileged, but to all. I dream of an Imo State where entrepreneurship thrives because progressively the various levers of policy, regulation, and implementation encourage economic growth and sustainable development. I dream of Imo State as a land of justice where peace thrives for all.

Multi-sectorial Partnerships incorporating Women and Youths

As I have mentioned earlier, we have taken the issues of women and youth empowerment as an agenda of government and we are determined to make it count.

In addition to a capable civil service, we also need a robust private sector. A private sector, capable of self-replenishment can only be possible if an enabling environment is created, which provides equal opportunities transcending the barriers of age and gender in which individual talents and business acumen begin to thrive. Beneficial interaction between the private and public sectors is a sine qua non for a well-developed private sector economy. This realisation we shall undertake by empowering women and young people who are the major players in the private sector.

You will agree with me that funding is a key impediment to the implementation of business plans, especially by individuals. Our government will strive to bridge this gap by working with institutions such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), , development banks, development partners and other multilateral agencies to provide access to soft loans targeting women and young people in the area of Agriculture, Commerce and Industry, Technology as well as Education. This will provide the required funding for start-ups in these sectors and thus positively reduce unemployment to the barest minimum.

Our government shall ensure that young people get the right orientation towards becoming employers of labour, instead of aspiring to qualify for employment. This we shall achieve through various community development projects and empowerment programmes targeting young people and Women especially school leavers and graduates and designed to fund the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills and mind-set. The present administration shall provide easy access to information on what services women and young people can access. This would range from security to healthcare and financial services. This openness would establish the much needed interaction for technology transfer, ideas cross-pollination and the monitoring, evaluation and implementation of economic policies that impact on women and young people in Imo State.

More so, we shall provide enabling environment for the establishment of Small and Medium scale enterprises in various areas of the economy. Taking into account the attendant limitless capacity to employ the teeming population of young people, we shall undertake conscious, calculated and timely interventions. These would include improved security, lowering of entry barriers, and most importantly, tax holidays. The overall aim is to woo investors, local and foreign alike.

What we stand to gain

When implemented, the above interventions will transform our state into a new era of a limitless capacity for internally generated revenue (IGR). With revenue derived at different stages and from different sectors, positive growth seems certain. This would ensure the actualization of SDGs 1, 2 and 3. That is, No poverty, Zero hunger, Good health and wellbeing.

Secondly, implementing these strategies would set a precedence upon which further traction can be achieved. We shall capitalize on the established policies, methods, processes and channels and set a standard for subsequent administrations and a model for other states in Nigeria.

Conclusion

Ladies and Gentlemen, while concluding this piece on partnering with women and youths for economic development and sustainability, may I observe that the major economic success stories such as the European Union, the BRICS nations, the Asian tigers, etc., have all leveraged the demographics of women and youth population in their respective economies. Time has come therefore to retrain and reposition our Youths and Women. Time has come to unleash the enormous potentials of our Women and Youths. Time has indeed come to galvanise and mobilise the energies and abilities of our Women and Youths for the great and urgent task of Rebuilding Imo State, to the glory of God and mankind. We urgently need all the energy, brains, brawn, imagination and talents that our young people and Women can bring to bear on our problems. Imo cannot be creative and innovative without the full participation of its Women and young people. My ambition is to be that Governor that made this possible.

Imo bunkeanyinile. Thank you for listening. May God bless you all, bless Imo State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Ihedioha Rejects Ruga Settlements For Fulani Herdsmen In Imo

Ihedioha Rejects Ruga Settlements For Fulani Herdsmen In Imo

Emeka Ihedioha, governor of Imo state, has rejected the plan of the federal government to set up Ruga farm settlements for Fulani herdsmen in the state.

Speaking through Steve Osuji, his Special Adviser Media, Ihedioha wondered the rationale behind the initiative of the proposed Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen in Imo State when none has been established in any of the Northern states in the entire Federation.
Ihedioha said that in rejecting it in Imo, no governor in South-East would accept such a proposal.

He said the south-eastern states would not rush to accept the proposal when none of the northern states had implemented it.

He said, “Certainly not. It is not about Imo State; no state in the South-East would accept it. We won’t rush to accept it when no state in the North has implemented it.”