The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has given a six-month ultimatum to officials of the Edo State Ministry of Physical Planning, Housing, Urban, and Regional Development to correct the ills in the built environment sector and restore sanity in the system.
Obaseki gave the ultimatum while addressing officials of the Ministry who were on an annual retreat at the Edo State College of Education, Abudu Campus, in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State, with the theme, “Building Synergies through Effective Collaboration.”
The governor decried that major cities in the state were fast turning into slums as a result of the indiscriminate erection of structures and other ills in the built environment sector, thereby threatening the government’s developmental efforts.
Governor Obaseki said, “I am giving you advance notice now. I am giving you six months as we are going to hire more staff to bring order to our cities. We have to create clean and functional cities. We will not accept the situation the way it is today. We need to improve the system.”
He further noted, “I am not seeking another election, nor am I seeking to be popular. I am seeking to do the right thing and to leave a legacy behind. I am not threatening anybody but if you don’t do what you ought to do, you will go while I bring in fresh people to make the system work.
“We would have departments, zone our cities and fly over it and account for every housing unit with documents which will be with you. This is a lawful State where you should make the government know about your house or properties.”
Obaseki continued: “People invade our roads, trade on it, and extend their homes to the road. There is a crisis in the building space. Don’t we have people again in the State who are supposed to regulate the built environment? Have they given up? Should we admit that the system has collapsed and just behave the way we like? We have an unregulated market; there are fuel stations everywhere and it strikes me.
“The Ministry is responsible for the decay in the built environment, maybe because of a lack of policy on the part of the government in the past. We had political leaders who will not give the official cover and support but in the last six years, I have assured you of my support as you must do your duties to improve the built environment.
“Land grabbing is part of governments’ failures, as it fails to lay out areas which would enable them to meet with the supply of land for development, and people do what they are doing, grabbing the land, and now the government is fighting back.”
“We are already investing and are ready to invest more on properties such as the one we are developing in Usen, Ovia North East LGA to train young town planners and assistants like you,” the governor added.
On his part, a former Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako commended Governor Obaseki for his foresight in ensuring a master and a regional plan for the state.
Presenting a paper titled, “Administration and relationship between political and technical officers in the Ministry of Physical Planning,” Salako said the Edo State Master Plan and Edo State Regional Plan is a policy statement that will create a platform for growth and development in Edo State.