Edo evacuates beggars, others, parleys oil industry stakeholders 

By Isaac Olamikan 

  • Sets new road map for food security via access to land

Edo State Government has commenced the evacuation and rehabilitation of street beggars, mentally-challenged persons and other destitute persons in major streets and markets within the Benin metropolis.

The implementation is by the state Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues, in partnership with various security agencies in the state, in line with the ‘Operation Plan Edo.’

The team evacuated over 50 such persons in the GRA axis of Benin City, including Ihama, Boundary and Country Home Roads axis, as well as Sapele Road and Ring Road axis, all within the Benin metropolis.

Permanent Secretary, the Edo State Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues, Mrs. Barbara Osobajo, said the destitute persons will be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society, while the others will be reunited with their families.

She called for increased collaboration and support of all residents to end street begging and other such unacceptable practices within the Benin metropolis.

She added: “The Edo State Government, in line with the ‘Operation Plan Edo,’ aims to sanitize the state and reposition it for sustainable growth and development. The government has kicked off the evacuation of street beggars, mentally-challenged persons and other destitute persons within the Benin metropolis.

“The persons who have been evacuated have been taken to various rehabilitation and correctional facilities within the state where they are being catered for, and will be reintegrated into the society after thorough care and rehabilitation.

“The operation kicked off within the Benin metropolis and will be extended to other parts of the state to ensure that we achieve a safe and sane Edo that we all will be proud to be associated with. ”

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The government is also rallying stakeholders in the oil and gas industry for effective implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), calling for increased collaboration to ensure sustainable peace and development in the state.

Governor Godwin Obaseki, at an oil and gas stakeholders’ meeting organized by the Ministry of Mining, Oil and Gas, in Benin City, said with diligent implementation of the new law, the state will be able attract more investment into the sector.

He, represented by the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Hon. Monday Osaigbovo, said the forum with the theme, “Effective Implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA):  A Strategic Tool for Sustainable Peace Among Stakeholders,” is aimed at fostering peace and enhancing collaboration between the government, oil and gas-producing communities and other stakeholders.

“The oil and gas sector, till date, is the mainstream of the Nigerian economy and as such, there is need to revalue its contributions to our communities and the state and one such reevaluation is the implementation of the PIA.

“The objective of the forum is to present opportunities to participants to freely discuss ways to strengthen the process of PIA implementation.

“This will foster sustainable prosperity, provide direct and economic benefits for the host communities as well as enhance peaceful and harmonious coexistence between the communities and oil and gas companies.

“We believe that to continue attracting investments, we must enshrine peace among the people and improve the general security of lives and property within the state by working closely with all the various traditional and community stakeholders,” the governor added.

Obaseki further restated his government’s commitment to enhancing the lives of residents in the various communities in the three oil and gas producing local governments, including Orhionmwon,  Ikpoba Okha and Ovia North East.

He said, “The Edo State Government, in line with the provision of the law, set up the Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC) which has been providing both opportunities for human development and provision of basic amenities that have no doubt improved the standard of living of the residents of these communities.”

In his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Mining, Oil and Gas, Ethan Osazee Uzamere stated that the state has begun the implementation of the PIA, adding that the ministry is at the forefront of the implementation of the Act.

“The Act seeks to promote the ease of doing business in the oil and gas industry, regulating the midstream and downstream sector, as well as making clear the roles of all players in the sector, provide for fast approvals of licences to investors, remove bureaucratic bottlenecks, end fuel importation and the subsidies involved in it, strengthen the value of the Naira and create job opportunities in the petroleum value chain, among others.”

On his part, the representative of the Oba of Benin and the Esere of Benin, Chief Stanley Obamwonyi enjoined the host communities to avail themselves to the platform made available by the provision of the Act and work in partnership with the state government to bring the desired development and growth that the administration strives to achieve.

And to ensure food security, the government is collaborating with stakeholders so as to remove obstacles in accessing arable land for food production in line with the administration’s Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) Agenda.

Obaseki disclosed this at the Edo State Access to Land Workshop held in Benin City, the state capital, with the theme, “Value Proposition for Sustainable Arable Land in Edo State.”

Obaseki, represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie Esq, said the Russia/Ukraine crisis has intensified the need to boost agricultural production especially in critical commodities, a feat that can mostly be achieved through access to land for food cultivation.

The address at the event was delivered by the Permanent Secretary in the SSG Office, Barrister Deborah Enakhimior.

According to Obaseki, “Land access remains crucial as the bedrock upon which agricultural production rests. Land access has consistently been identified as a key constraint to the expansion of agricultural production and productivity in Edo State in particular and in Niger Delta in general.

“Food security, agricultural self-sufficiency and rural development is a priority for us. To facilitate this, the state has provided the needed support to investors in Edo State with allocation of 65,000-hectares of land to eight oil palm investors. We have also facilitated activities in crop production clusters across the state and have entered into partnerships for development of livestock.

“We have embarked on the restructuring of the Edo State College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi and also facilitated a collaboration between GIZ SEDIN with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to develop a workable agricultural policy in the state. There is also the CBN 5-Star Cassava Project, which would boost cassava production in the state.”

Chairman of the Edo State Arable Land Committee and Managing Director, Edo State Investment Promotion Office, ESIPO, Mr. Kelvin Uwaibi noted that Nigeria has about 34 million hectares of arable land which should be sufficient to make the country food self-sufficient and a major supplier of food in the world.

He lamented low productivity in the agricultural sector, noting that the state is taking deliberate measures to boost cultivation of food and cash crops in the state.

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