On assumption of office over three years ago, Governor Adams Oshiomhole promised to address series of Environmental problems facing the people of Edo state. So far a lot has been done in this regard.
There is no doubt that flooding is a major environmental challenge facing Benin City and other parts of the state. Therefore, genuine measures aimed at controlling the problem were highly welcomed.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole surpassed his predecessors in the area of the preservation of the Benin Moat, when he set up the task force on Environment headed by Major Lawrence Loye (rtd), to demolish buildings which obstruct the right of way or which has violated any town planning law in the state.
However, The Edo State “Operation Reclaim the Moat” turned sour recently when Governor Adams Oshiomhole ordered the arrest of the chairman of the Edo State Task Force on Environment, Major Lawrence Loye (rtd), over the “unauthorized” demolition of buildings which had not violated any town planning law.
Governor Oshiomhole said that though he had earlier ordered the demolition of some illegal structures erected at Upper Lawani to enable a drainage project to be sited in the Benin Moat, Major Loye did not receive any directives from any government agent to bulldoze buildings, even when they did not obstruct the right of way.
One cannot but understand the “zealousness” with which Major Loye was carrying out his task. Whatever may have happened or what the issues may have been is now history, as Major Loye is back to his job.
Before now, previous administrations in the state have compromised this issue against the backdrop of favouritisms, and selective demolition of illegal structures, marked to be either on the moat, or government land.
It is on record that the Benin moats; a historical monument was dug round the city of Benin during the reign of Oba Oguola.
It was through human efforts using local and crude implements, to ward off attack or invasion from the neighbouring countries. It was so deep that it rebuffed attacks from enemies who could not enter into Benin Kingdom in time of war.
It was the effort of the Comrade Governor at addressing the Environmental problems bedeviling the state that gave rise to the Federal Government through the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadija Mailafia to give kudos to the Government of Edo State over its efforts at combating environmental problems in the state, during a visit to Governor Adams Oshiomhole in Benin City.
According to her, “I want to seize this opportunity to thank you on behalf of all citizens of Nigeria and in particular citizens of Edo State for the remarkable work you are doing in relation to the environment”.
“We note with a lot of interest, how clean the City is and we note your numerous contributions in terms of addressing erosion problems. We also note that this is one of the commendable States because it has a Storm Water master plan.”
Mrs. Mailafia noted that the issue of flood control needs a holistic approach, adding that this is what should be done at the Federal level.
“I am pleased to inform you that as the Chairman of National Committee on ecological problem, that we are looking closely at your request. With what I have seen on ground, I am more invigorated to really see that the Federal Government makes appreciable contribution to Edo State’’.
Also, the Edo state Commissioner for information and Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion has made it known that the dualisation of the Airport road has been re-awarded to Setraco Construction Company after due consideration by the State Executive Council. Also re-awarded was the contract for the construction of Igarra-Enwan-Uneme Osu-Dagbala-Oja Road. Both contracts were earlier terminated because of poor execution by the erstwhile contractor.
He disclosed that the State Executive Council has also approved the dualization of Mission and Upper Mission roads from Oba Ovonranmwen Square to Aduwawa junction, the Storm Water control project and
reconstruction of drains and associated roads around Airport road, as well as the construction of Iyekhe-Aviele road. According to him, approval was also granted for the construction of Ikhin-Elhueh road, the construction of Ugoneki-Ugieghudu-Ehor road and the flood and erosion control work at Upper Lawani and environs. It is worthy of note that at the moment, work is ongoing in all these roads.
“Since prevention is far better than cure and we have now read how deadly flood can be so it is paramount that we all embrace this change and give the state Government Kudos for helping to address flood as we all are also aware that flood is a global menace and not a particular country or state menace “.
It is the belief of the state government that if the moat is left open, the flood devastating the state at the moment, will be easily controlled through it.
In the cause of ensuring a sustainable environment, some people must be hurt, and certain toes stepped on, for things to be done right without fear or favour.
With what is happening so far, it is obvious to even the blind that the present government in power in Edo state is doing all humanly possible to move the state forward in areas of construction of roads, schools, hospital and renovations of all government facilities. However, there seem to be a lack of corresponding zeal on the part of the good people of Edo state to carry out complementing role in enhancing these notable efforts of the governor. A case in point is while roads are being constructed with the highest standard as found any where in the world, the sanitary condition of our people is nothing to write home about!
This is the position Edo State government has found itself at the moment, and the need for the government to sustain this laudable objective, cannot be over-emphasized, towards ensuring a healthy and egalitarian society.