The Edo State Government on Monday inaugurated its free transport scheme to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal in the state.
Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Godwin Obaseki urged residents to use the Edo City Transport Ltd (ECTS) free buses regularly as it was designed to help them get over the hardship caused by the fuel subsidy removal.
Obaseki was represented by the State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, on Monday in Benin.
The Tide’s source recalls that Obaseki recently approved free transport service for passengers on all routes operated by the state-owned ECTS.
The service, which spans an initial two-month period, covers commuting within the Benin metropolis and other major towns in the three senatorial districts. The buses will run between 6.30 am and 7 pm daily.
According to Nehikhare, “The State Government takes the welfare of the residents seriously and this is just one of the many ways we intend to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal for Edo people.
“The service started this morning and people should seize this opportunity provided by the government and enjoy it”.
On her part, the Managing Director, Edo State Transport Authority, Mrs Edugie Agbonlahor, said though ECTC has been offering free bus rides to primary and secondary school pupils, Obaseki has now extended it to accommodate every body in order to alleviate the hardship caused by fuel subsidy removal.
“Transportation has always consumed 50 per cent of budgets of parents. So, the gesture is to help so that they can channel this money to some other needs such as feeding and housing.
“It also comes handy, particularly this time when our children are resuming and we know the burden on parents during the first term.
“So, this is His Excellency’s intervention that at this time, parents can have a refund of their transport cost to enable them take on other responsibilities.
“We are aware that the ECTS has always given free ride to school children, but it’s no longer for school children alone but for all Edo people”, she said.
A beneficiary of the free transport scheme, Mrs Osarubo Obayuwana, who lives in Oko Central, said that she used to spend an average of N800 daily on transportation.
She said: “I am happy and elated seeing the new arrangements by the Edo State Government, I want to beg the government to sustain the service because people are really suffering”.
The transport service is expected to cover intra-city and intercity routes, including Auchi-Igalla-Ibillo-Ososo; Uzebba-Ikhin-Otuo, and Abudu-Ubiaja, Abudu-Urhonigbe and Ewohirin to Ewatto.
The intra-city routes are Ramat–Kings’ Square; New Benin–King’s square; King’s square – Ekenwan Road; King’s Square–Airport Road; King’s Square–Sapele Road and King’s square – Adesuwa.
Others are King’s Square–Ogida; New Benin–Upper Mission; King’s Square–Ugbowo; King’s square–Agbor Road; King’s square–Upper Sokponba; New Benin–Ugbowo and New Benin–Aduwawa.
HCD Charges Journalists On Adequate Reportage
The Edo State Human Capital Development Programme (HCD), on Friday charged Journalists to adequately report the three thematic areas of the HCD to enable beneficiaries understand the benefits that are inherent in the programme.
The TIde’s source reports that HCD Programme is a project of the National Economic Council (NEC) with its Core Working Groups working on three thematic areas of health and nutrition, education and labour force participation.
The Regional Consultant, South-South, HCD, Mr Olusoji Adeniyi, gave the charge at a two-day Media engagement and HCD reporting for media agencies, held in Benin, the Edo State Capital.
Speaking on the topic, “Accelerating HCD Base in Nigeria”, Adeniyi said the three thematic areas of HCD were poorly reported, adding that stakeholders and communities were not aware of the benefit of the programme.
He noted that the media needed to say more about what government was doing through the HCD to enable communities become aware of the benefit of education and other thematic areas of the programme.
“The training is to build the capacity of media agencies and also to introduce the components of HCD to journalists to avoid misconception.
“The essence of the workshop is to let you know that HCD is a life cycle of a child effect which begins from the womb, the health of the mother, breastfeeding, nurturing of the child and the educational status of that child.
“It involves the opportunity for the child to become employable through the skills learnt.
“During the period, they were exposed to adolescency to young adults who would contribute to the labour force of the country.
“So the media need to engage the communities to let them know that a child that is wondering around during school hours, is a child that is likely to drop out of school and needs to be corrected and taken back to school.
“We want people to understand that a child that is going to be fully developed to contribute to the economy of the nation starts from when the child is in the mother’s womb.
“It covers when the child is born in a facility that has the right kind of birth attendants so that we do not loose the child and mother to infant and maternal mortality”, he said.
According to him, “we are in Edo where bronze casting has become obsolete and the media need to educate the people on the need to revive it because it has put Edo on the world map.
Adeniyi, however, disclosed that a total of 260 journalists have so far been trained in the south south region on HCD programme.
Also speaking, the Edo HCD Focal Person and Managing Director, Edo Skills Development Agency, (Edojobs), Mrs Violet Obiokoro, stated that Governor Godwin Obaseki had invested in HCD and was working with the three thematic areas of health and nutrition, education and labour force.
Obiokoro, however, lamented that all of the improvement recorded so far by the governor in the state in the thematic areas have been under reported.
“The Governor has done a lot in these areas but they are under reported and as a result, people are not aware of what government is doing”, Obiokoro said.
According to her, “I want to appeal to you all to begin to look into these areas and help us report what government is doing.
“it is about time we begin to report these activities and collect data by ourselves instead of waiting for people to report and collect data for us”.
A plenary was held with HCD thematic Focal Persons from the ministry of Health, Education and Edojobs to discuss the impact of HCD thematic areas in the state.
Gunmen Abduct Cleric, Daughter, Another In Calabar
A cleric, Rev. Mike Obiora of the World Alive Church, Calabar, was reportedly abducted on Friday, along with his daughter.
The Tide source also learnt that an unidentified man, who recently moved into his own house in the city, was also abducted on Friday morning.
The Spokesperson for the Police Command in the state, SP Irene Ugbo, confirmed the three abductions to the source.
According to Ugbo, the cleric, his daughter, and the third victim were abducted at Victory Street, Satellite Town, in Calabar Municipality Local Government Area.
It was further learnt that the gunmen had a getaway boat waiting for them nearby, which they reportedly used to whisk away their victims.
Meanwhile, Ugbo said the Command would not relent until all those kidnapped were found.
“We are aware of the incidents. Our men swung into action when they got the distress call.
“We won’t relent until the victims are rescued from their abductors”, she said.
Gov Woos Investors In Agriculture, Others At UNGA 78
The Akwa Ibom State Government has called on investors across the world to invest in agriculture and other sectors in the state, assuring them of providing enabling environment.
The State Governor, Umo Eno, said this at a High Level Meeting tagged “Attracting investments in Land Restoration, Food Systems and Rural Transformation in Africa”.
The meeting was organised by African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), Nigeria, in collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD Continental on margins of the 78th session of UN General Assembly.
Eno, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Dr Ekem John, spoke on his readiness to welcome investors to his state and give them maximum support.
According to him, apart from Abuja, the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory, Akwa Ibom has made conscious efforts to put infrastructure to attract investors.
“We are making conscious efforts in terms of the three gateways – land, air and sea. You can go to anywhere within Akwa Ibom in one hour on motorable roads.
“We conscious of the fact that as we’re promoting agriculture, small farm holders in our rural areas must be able to evacuate their produce.
“In terms of air infrastructure. We’re the first sub-national governments to build and operate an airport efficiently.
“I think we’re the first sub-national government in West Africa to own an airline and that airline traverses the entire Nigeria and in the coming few days, in October, we’ll be establishing regional flights from Uyo.
“So, investors can seize that opportunity to invest in agriculture in Akwa Ibom”, he said.
The Governor said he had separated the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, and mandated the Ministry of Water Resources to begin to work out modalities to improve on the irrigation farming.
Eno said he was recently in Benin Republic where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Songhai farms and “the idea really, is to train small farm holders into adopting modern agric practices.
“So, we’re setting up a Songhai farm in Akwa Ibom and we’re recruiting young people are trying to make agric fashionable for the young people. So, they are paid the salaries, trained and then allowed to go and establish and run their farms.
“The government is also thinking ahead by providing storage facilities for these farmers that we are bringing on board.
“And let me also say that apart from the education in terms of regulation, just last week, before we departed for this meeting, we clamped down on some companies”, he stated.
Speaking in an interview at the event, Sen. Abdulaziz Yar’dua, Chairman, Senate Committee on Nigerian Army, said the event was important to Nigeria because it discussed challenges faced my rural farmers and way forward.
“So, it is important to attract financing, investment and also ensure that certain processes are put in place so that our farmers, rural farmers can have very good harvest.
“We’re doing everything possible in Nigeria to ensure that all the things that are needed within the agriculture value chain are provided to the farmers but most importantly.
“This event and this session that I attended, which involves attracting international financing, is to ensure that our rural farmers are given access to finance”, Yar’dua said.
He recalled that in last administration, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had to be involved in getting the rural farmers access finance.
“You know the Nigerian financial institutions were not interested in giving access to finance to our rural farmers, basically because they believe agriculture is not a business and they believe they cannot quickly get profit out of that.
“So, in the last administration, the government had to involve the CBN through the Anchor Borrowers scheme to ensure that our rural farmers are having access to finance.
“With this international financing investment, I think it will add value to what is existing in Nigeria to ensure that our rural farmers get access to finance, get capacity, get knowledge of modern agriculture”, he said.
The s5enator said it is important for farmers to understand that agriculture is a business.
“We need to build their capacity in order to ensure that they reap maximum benefit in what they do.
“So that it does not stop just at subsistence farming that we do only during the rainy season but that will be an all year round funding for our rural farmers and once you engage rural communities, of course, the economy will improve the gross domestic product of the country will improve”, he said.
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