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This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series The Nation

With the SIMPLE agenda, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC has promised to turn Edo state into a tourist destination for excellence. Read how

Benjamin Franklin, one of American founding fathers, once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” And on the other hand, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the World War II American president, remarked that “Good planning without good working is nothing.”

On Saturday September 19, 2020, Edo state citizens will troop to the 2,627 polling units to elect a new governor. According to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), 14 out of the 18 registered political parties fielded candidates for the election including Edemakhiota Godwin Osaimiami (Action Alliance, AA), Mabel Akomu Oboh (African Democratic Congress, ADC) and Osagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu (All Progressives Congress, APC).

Others include Osagie Lucky Idehen (All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA) and Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki (Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP).

While many political analysts believe the election might be a two-horse race between the two major political parties, the PDP of the incumbent governor and the main opposition of APC, the exercise sprung up some surprises with the fielding of two 35-year-olds and two 36-year-olds as gubernatorial and deputy gubernatorial candidates of the AA and ADP, respectively.

Furthermore, in the list of 28 aspirants together with their running mates, four parties fielded four female candidates (14 percent ), with Mabel Akomu Oboh (ADC), Agol Ebun Tracy (New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP) gunning for the governor’s hot seat.

After a rigorous search on Google, of all the 14 candidates vying to occupy Osadebe House, none has a detailed or list of programmes to execute once he or she lands in the government house. That is, with the exception of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC.

Hence, we took it upon ourselves to dissect, inspect, analyse and present to you the highlights of the SIMPLE agenda of Pastor Osagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

POI’s SIMPLE agenda promises to create jobs and stem rural-urban migration

Plans alone will not bring about the desired results unless they are matched with the requisite actions. But it is known that actions without plans are recipes for failures. Just like the current governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki, who after four years in offer, is now sloganeering Make Edo Great Again (MEGA). If you haven’t made Edo great already in four years, then the next four years might be a harvest of whirlwind.

Plans: Obaseki vs Ize-Iyamu

When Vanguard asked Governor Obaseki about his vision for the state if reelected, he couldn’t point to specifics. He only beat around the bush:

 “We have pursued an aggressive reform agenda for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) that has transformed the Government Science and Technical Education (GSTC), formerly Benin Technical College, into success story…

“No individual can determine who will become governor. Only God and the people can make the decision…

Godwin Obaseki: Does MEGA rhetoric has any meaning?

“I want to assure you that this is a fight in which we will prevail. We will fight and succeed. It is not my fight; it is a fight for the right purpose. I am not going to back off because I know victory is sure…

“We earn less today than we did in 2016 when we came into power, so where is the money to waste? We know how much we inherited as debt; we have to service them. Some people sit and say we should focus on stomach infrastructure. I said no, that I would rather focus on mental infrastructure.”

But on his part, the gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu (POI) had candid points to relay. He said he came up with the SIMPLE agenda to clarify his ambition so that the electorates can monitor and hold him accountable for his promises.

Ize-Iyamu pointed out that “the first thing that came to my mind was what do I have to offer, how will Edo people understand what I want to offer because I have found so many chief executives, governors, political aspirants and candidates who run simply on verbal promises, nothing is documented and no clear programme they want to achieve when they win.

“Four years on when in office, they are trying to learn the ropes, they are trying to understand the system and then they will tell you that they need a second term to be able to do well. In coming up with this document, I told my team that the problem with some previous documents is that they are too voluminous, they are too technical and people find it difficult to understand.”

Who is Osagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu?

Osagie Ize-Iyamu, born on June 21, 1962, is a Nigerian pastor, politician, former Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Edo state government. He was the gubernatorial candidate of the Edo state People’s Democratic Party for the 2016 Edo state gubernatorial election. He is currently a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its gubernatorial candidate for the forthcoming governorship elections in the state. He was the National vice-chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Ize-Iyamu served as Director General of Adams Oshiomhole’s second term Campaign Organisation. He was also the Coordinator of Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation. Recently, he was honoured by the Benson Idahosa University with an honorary doctorate degree in Public Administration.

Pastor Ize-Iyamu and wife, Idia

Osagie Ize-Iyamu was born in Benin City. He was brought forth by Chief Robert Osayande Ize-Iyamu and Mrs. Magdalene Naghado Ize- Iyamu. His father was a revered high chief of the Oba of Benin, ranking second in command until his demise as the Esogban of Benin. His mother was a trained teacher who later transitioned into trader.

Ize-Iyamu attended St. Joseph Primary School and Ebenezer Nursery and Primary School in Benin City. He had his Secondary education at Edo College the premier secondary school in Edo State and passed out with grade I in his West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations. He attended the University of Benin where he graduated with an LL.B (Hons) and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School where he bagged the Bachelor of Law (BL) qualification and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987.

Osagie Ize-Iyamu is happily married to Pastor (Dr) Idia Ize-Iyamu, a consultant orthodontist with the University of Benin Teaching Hospital and a professor in the University of Benin. They are blessed with four children.

(Biography: Adapted from Wikipedia)

Where is Edo state of Nigeria?

According to Britannica, Edo state was formed on August 27, 1991 from the northern portion of Bendel state, the southern portion becoming Delta state. Prior to this, in 1963, the citizens of the territory had voted to separate from what was then the Western region, and the Mid-West region was created. This became Mid-Western state following the federal reorganization in 1967; from a second reorganization in 1976 until its division in 1991, it was named Bendel state.

It is bounded by the states of Kogi to the northeast and east, Anambra to the east, Delta to the southeast and south, and Ondo to the west and northwest; the Niger River flows along the state’s eastern boundary. Benin City is the state capital and largest urban centre.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. Yams, cassava (manioc), oil palm produce, rice, and corn (maize) are the major subsistence crops, while rubber, timber, and palm oil and kernels are cash crops.

Mineral resources include limestone and lignite. Industries produce pharmaceuticals, rubber, plywood, beer, sawn wood, and furniture. A network of trunk roads in the state and an airport at Benin City facilitate transportation.

The Nigerian Institute of Oil Palm Research, the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, and the University of Benin (founded 1970) are located at Benin City, with two state universities, one at Ekpoma (founded 1981) and another at Iyamoh (founded 2016).

LGAs

Edo State consists of eighteen (18) Local Government Areas (LGAs). These are Akoko-Edo, Egor, Esan Central, Esan North-East, Esan South-East and Esan West.

The remaining are Etsako Central, Etsako East, Etsako West, Igueben, Ikpoba-Okha, Oredo, Orhionmwon, Ovia North-East, Ovia South-West, Owan East, Owan West, and Uhunmwonde.

Google Map of Edo state

Demography

The main ethnic groups in Edo State are Binis, Etsako, Esans, Owans and Akoko Edos. Virtually all the groups traced their origin to Benin City hence the dialects of the groups vary with their distance from Benin City.

The Bini speaking people who occupy seven out of the 18 Local Government Areas of the state constitute 57.14%; while others are as follow: Esan (17.14%), Etsako (12.19%), Owan (7.43%), and Akoko Edo (5.70%).

However, the Igbira speaking communities exist in Akoko Edo as well as Ijaw Izons, Urhobos, Itsekiris communities in Ovia North East and South West Local Government Areas especially in the borderlands. Also, Ika speaking communities exist in Igbanke in Orhionmwon LGA.

(Additional history of Edo state from Wikipedia)

What is SIMPLE agenda?

The SIMPLE agenda is the election manifesto of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The SIMPLE agenda has a tag line “A manifesto of hope”

Its mission is “To fast track the transformation of Edo state through transparent, effective and accountable governance that will improve the living standards and social well being of our people.”

But its motto, “Edo must move forward” is not impressive. It seems to be too aggressive.

According to the document the simple agenda is smart, meaning it is specific, measurable, accurate, reliable and time bound.

The SIMPLE agenda is an acronym where S stands for security and social welfare, I for infrastructural development/urban renewal, M for manpower development and training, P for public private partnership (PPP), L for leadership by example, and E for employment creation and social empowerment scheme.

The twin key messages of the manifesto are to create jobs and reduce rural to urban migration.

Even though the SIMPLE agenda is broken down into six broad spheres, each of the units is further expanded to encompass other areas that touch the needs of the electorates. Without trying to follow the chronology of the S.I.M.P.L.E. points, we preferred to stress the major salient features of the agenda first, just as you will find in what follows:

Specific projects

There are areas in the SIMPLE agenda where the APC candidate mentioned specific projects which he envisioned to bring to fruition if elected into office. These projects include: building a second bridge to link Upper St. Saviour and Ikpoba Hill; extending Airport Road construction across the bridge to Evbuodia-Utagba Village to join Ekenwan Barrack road by Ojemai Farms; and overhauling the roads linking Auchi (Polytechnic gate) in South Ibie to Ekperi, Agenebode, Anegbete, Ugboha and Uromi.

He further promised to construct overhead bridges in strategic locations across the state; plant 10 million trees annually by encouraging every Edolite to plant at least five trees; resuscitate, refurbish and expand the games village in Afuze and create one functional industrial park in each senatorial zone.

POI wil construct overhead bridges, like the one in Kano state, in strategic locations

Other projects include establishment of an Export Processing Zone that will serve as an industrial and commercial hub; creation of a refinery in Ikpoba-Okha through PPP; and establishment of a furniture manufacturing cluster at Egor/Ikpba-Okha axis. He said this furniture cluster will consist of workshop units, factory spaces, large-scale manufacturing facilities, retail units for B2B and B2C.

The APC candidate also undertook to create two trailer parks for articulated vehicles, one at Oluku-Ore road and the other at Aviele; and revamp abandoned farms and ranches such as Urhonigbe Rubber Factory, Leventis Farms, Warrake Farms, Igarra Cattle Ranch, Ubiaja Goat Farms.

He also promised to create a state-of-the-art film village.

Bureaus to be created

If granted the keys to Osadebe House, an administration of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will create an Economic Management Team (EMT) that will convene an Edo development summit, within six months in office, to sell Edo brand to investors at home and abroad.

The EMT will also be tasked to diversify the state’s economy through agriculture, solid minerals, oil and gas, cultural products and tourism. The team will also institutionalize a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanism to track public programmes and projects implementation

Furthermore, according to the SIMPLE agenda, an Ize-Iyamu’s government will establish the Edo State Security Trust Fund that will mobilize funding for security agencies on a sustainable basis to tackle the teething security problems bedeviling the state. Edo State Employment Bureau (ESEB) will be established to identify and capture the state’s unemployed with their qualifications in a database.

Traditional institutions will be boosted to serve as tourist attractions

Edo State Road Maintenance Agency with full complements of earth moving equipments will be established to maintain roads that send Edolites to early graves.

Other agencies that will be established include Edo State Investment Promotion Commission (ESIPC) which will drive inward investments, entrepreneurial support and development, and Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency that will link farmers to the marketplace to ensure patronage and stabilization of commodity prices.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu also promised to establish Edo State Tourism Bureau, which will operate independently to uncork the creative energy of youths in the state.

Manpower development and training

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” says Nelson Mandela, the late ex-president of South Africa.

One of the cardinal points of Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s SIMPLE agenda is to provide “free and compulsory education from primary to junior secondary level.” As he also pledged to re-introduce boarding facilities in public secondary schools

From JSS 1, the APC candidate assured that each child will be made to pick four different skills from a range that include carpentry, catering, fashion design, painting, digital skills, music, healthcare, tiling, etc.

From SSI onward, each child will be made to pick one skill and specialize. And then in the last year of SS3, each student will undergo a compulsory four weeks work experience placement so that at graduation, the student will have both a Diploma in one skill set and an SSCE certificate.

School children’s future will be secured

The Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu campaign manifesto further stated that these Diplomas would be the collaterals the secondary school leavers will use to obtain small business loans to kick-start their professional lives.

And under youth development and sports the Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s government will encourage young people to create businesses in youth development, sports, recreation and cultural activities by giving these youth access to financial assistance.

The government will also collaborate with reputable sports marketing companies to establish sports academies in the state.

Infrastructural development and urban renewal

On the absence of tangible projects executed by the incumbent government of Godwin Obaseki, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu noted that “Even though it is difficult to see, if there are projects that Obaseki has started I can assure you that we will complete them, it does not make sense to abandon projects”.

The POI government through the SIMPLE agenda promised to bequeath state-of-the-art infrastructures that future generations will utilize and be proud of.

The POI government promised to make sure all major roads and streets in Benin Citry and all local government headquarters are asphalted with walkways, drains and street lights; and reconstruct and rehabilitate existing road networks.

Strategic roads linking communities and serving as alternative routes will be identified and asphalted and the Benin Storm Water Project will be reviewed and completed within reasonable time.

Solar energy will be harnessed to provide alternative source of power and create employments

Under electrification, POI assured that all towns, villages and communities across the state will be connected to the national grid and that local, national and international investors will be partnered with to create alternative renewable energy from solar and wind energies.

On the perennial teething water shortage, the Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s government will construct public water works in community clusters across the state, and resuscitate, expand and modernize Ikpoba River Dam, Ugbialo Water Works, Ojirami Dam, amongs others.

Under healthcare, the POI government will come up with a Simple Strategic Health Development Plan (SSHDP) that will increase life expectancy through equipping, staffing and boosting of existing primary health care centers, cottage and general/specialist hospitals. The SSHDP will also provide 18 mobile health service buses which will provide vital healthcare services to people in rural towns and villages in partnership with LGAs.

And under environment, the government will procure more compactor trucks and engage reputable waste managers to keep the state clean; and modernize, scale up and enhance the capacity of Edo State Fire Service, whereby every major market will have a fire service unit.

In the housing area, the POI government will create new Government Reservation Areas (GRAs) by allocating lands, providing infrastructure and inviting reputable developers to take over the areas.

Public private partnership (PPP)

Owning to the fact that revenues from the federation account are dwindling, the POI administration pledged to drive up innovative ways of bringing about good change in Edo state. One of these is the strategic partnership with reputable local, state, national and international private institutions.

The POI administration has pledged not to be a ‘memorandum of understanding (MOU) government’ where agreements will be signed with no results to show.

Under its industrialization push, the POI government has pledged to mentor local government authorities to create industrial clusters in their jurisdictions, and exploit the abundant solid minerals in the state that include limestone, feldspar, kaolin, gold, lignite, iron one, gypsum, bitumen and bentonic clay through PPP.

The government will also create solid minerals cluster in Edo North, fruit growers cluster in Uhunmwode and Orhionmwon LGAs, while a grain cluster will be created in Edo Central. An agro cluster will then be created in a central location to take care of plantain and other farm produce.

Furthermore, the Ize-Iyamu’s government will resuscitate and revamp state-owned industries that include Fertilizer Plant, Auchi, Cassavita industry, Uromi, Ava Cement Factory, Akoko-Edo, Fruit Juice Factor, Ehor, Bendel Brewery, Benin and Ewu Flour Mill through PPP.

In the transportation sector, the government will dredge the Gelegele River and make it a viable modern seaport in collaboration with the federal through PPP, and develop railway lines to link the three senatorial districts.

Under the agricultural and rural development push, young graduates and school leavers will be trained as agripreneurs to take advantage of the opportunities prevalent in all agricultural value chains.

In the tourism sector, the government will organize annual Benin Carnival; construct a world-class shopping mall through PPP; and create holiday resorts that will sprawl several hectares to attract big players in the industry.

Employment creation and social empowerment

Since an adage says that “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” one of twin goals of the POI SIMPLE agenda is to create jobs.

As thus, in each agendum of the SIMPLE manifesto, the POI enumerated the numbers of direct jobs they will create and the numbers of existing ones that will be secured.

In total, the POI government plans to create about 120,000 direct jobs through renewable energy (2,000), water projects (10,000), fire service (3,000), housing (10,000), education (10,000), industrialization (3,000), Gelegele Seaport (50,000) and agriculture (30,000).

A table detailing the no. of jobs to be provided by POI government

JobsDirectExistingNew business
Renewable energy20001000
Water projects100003000
Fire service30005000
Housing10000
Education10000
Industrialization30005000
Gelegele Seaport50000
Agriculture30000
TOTAL118000130001000

Security and social welfare

All the lofty dreams of a Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s government cannot be realized in a hostile and insecure environment. Thus, security comes first in the SIMPLE agenda.

The POI government plants to initiate global best practices that will allow Edolites sleep with their two eyes closed by creating an emergency system like 911. They will also partner with traditional rulers, villages heads, school authorizes and religious organizations to find pragmatic and lasting solutions to teething security problems facing Edo state.

The proverbial phrase that “A hungry man is an angry man” forms the wisdom behind social welfare reform of Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s government. Amongst other things, every Edolite will have a personalized Social Security Number, social welfare offices will be set up in the three senatorial districts to resolve matrimonial issues through counseling and mediation; and payments to pensioners will be made regular.

Leadership

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has promised to lead by example through institutionalizing an Open Government and Accountable Administration (OGAA) that will ensure transparency, due process, accountability and competitive bidding in all government contracts.

He also said he will harp on e-governance in order to eliminate corruption; will respect autonomy of the three arms of government: executive, legislative and judiciary, and hold regular town hall meetings.

POI has promised to lead by example

Even though he said he will ensure strict supervision of council resources and expenditure, he promised to encourage financial autonomy of the LGAs and create local government development areas to fast tract development of the areas.

Shortcomings

After going through the 29-paged SIMPLE agenda, Memorila found that the document has lofty goals that every citizen and lovers of Edo state will hope become realities if Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu prevails at the Saturday September 19, 2020 gubernatorial election of Edo state and matched his words with actions.

But all in all, it is in our candid opinion that the manifesto lacked in two spheres.

One, the document made no mention of building new schools. According to CityPopulation, Edo state population grew from 3.23 million in March 2006 to about 4.23 million people in March 2016, a population growth of about 1 million people in a decade. Consequentially, by March 2026, the population of Edo state might be 5.23 million people.

If you don’t build more schools, where are you going to put the new wave of young ones that are coming of school age every year?

Secondly, there was no mention on the welfare and capacity building of existing manpower. The document was rich on how a government of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will create jobs in the different sectors of the state’s economy. But there were nowhere where it said existing manpower will trained and/or retrained.

The above slips might be oversights. But the campaign organization of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will need to formulate plans on how to tackle these two issues and more that might have escaped their attention.

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By Faruk Ahmed

Faruk Ahmed cut his teeth at National Review, a Kano-based magazine now rested, where he rose to become Operations Manager and then Business Developer and Strategist. He is a keen watcher of political events.

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