Edo Guber Race: Ex-Minister, Clem Agba, Submits Forms, Pledges Rural, Urban Renewal

Mr. Clem Agba
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By Akombo Aondona, Abuja

Former Minister of State for Finance and governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Clem Agba, has pledged to transform the state’s rural and urban space as well as develop its human and material resources if elected governor.

Agba stated this on Wednesday 31January 2024 during a dialogue with the press at the APC Media Centre after he submitted his gubernatorial forms at the APC National Headquarters in Abuja.

He said as an economist, he would use his wealth of experience in the private and public sectors to transform Edo State to the envy of the rest of the country.

Agba cited his achievements in Edo as a former commissioner as indicative of what he would accomplish as governor of Edo State.

He said: “I was a commissioner in the state. I did the designs of our primary and secondary drains. And the contracts that we did was because we understand the environment. They are responsible for primary drains. Works responsibility is to construct roads and protect them. We did our urban renewal programmes and expanded our roads. All these roads were federal roads.  Airport Road in Benin, we change it from a single carriage way to a dua carriage way, six lanes. The primary drains on that road are 22 feet deep on Sapele Road, another federal road. It was a single carriage way. But we expanded it again. And made it six lanes with primary and secondary drains. Akpakava, the same thing. New Lagos road, the same thing. Ugbowo road, the same thing. My name is there. I look at what you used to call ring road in Benin. There was a motor park. There was a market. They were selling garri, vegetables and recharge cards with about five motor parks in the central business of the heartbeat of Nigeria.”

Agba pledged to be governor to all of Edo State and not a part of it, saying: “For me, service to humanity is what I want to be remembered for. So, after facilitating both the long-term plan and the medium term plan, I said to myself, what are the outcomes from this plan? Why do people say Nigeria has failed?What are the issues were identified in the National Development Plan? One talks about integrated rural development. It says our rural people occupy 60% of Nigeria, they represent 60% of Nigerians and this 60% of Nigerian produce 90% of the food that we all consume. 60% of what they produce does not get to the market. So to put it in context, the farmers produce 10,000 tons of food, only 4000 gets to the market. Are they not labouring in vain?

“But during campaigns, as aspirants or candidates go to the nook and cranny of their states, every hut, every village, all the constituencies they go on to campaign and they get the votes. Once they are voted into power, they become governors of the capital city and totally abandon the rural areas. And this is also particular in Edo State.

“If you look at Edo South for instance, almost all our villages have disappeared. Because everybody is going to Benin. I mean, I’m using Edo South as an example now not to talk about a Edo Central, and Edo North and why is this? Because they’re looking for opportunities, which they feel only exist in the state capital. Slums are developing, a lot of vices are going on and our children are joining secret cults. And the end result is what you’ve been seeing in the last two, three months, they begin to kill themselves. I think it was about two or three weeks ago about 32 were killed. What is government for If not to provide security for the people?

The former minister added: “Abraham Maslow talks about the hierarchy of needs. So a man cannot be talking about self-actualization or self esteem when he has not put food in his stomach. He cannot talk about self-actualization or self esteem when he has no shelter. For me, what I’m I bringing to the table is what I call the TRUST Initiative. Some people call it the TRUST Agenda, but whatever you want to call it, we want to transform our rural and urban spaces together. That’s what TRUST means to me.

“If you’re developing the urban areas, you should simultaneously be developing the rural areas. You should be providing access road especially around the agro corridors. So that 60% that goes to waste, which is a low hanging fruit, will be recovered, not mechanization, I hear people talking about tractorization. You buy more tractors, you get more improved yields, you increase the acreage and the result will be that you are increasing the percentage of harvest losses. Until we deal with the issue of access to market for these products, which has to do with ensuring that there are roads, either for the farmer to get to the market or the market to come to the farmer and ensuring that there is power. I’m not talking about the national grid. I’m talking about captive power. So once you have captive power available, you’ll find that cottage industries begin to develop around these farm settlements. What will happen is people will set up storage facilities, others will begin to set up processing facilities. The National Development Plan also talked about the micro. That’s micro small and medium enterprises currently in Nigeria they employ 70% of our people. But they are the most marginalized because there are so many binding constraints. The state government will tax, federal government would tax. We have multiplicity of taxes. So what it ends up doing is killing the small-scale industries. It is also going to be a major area of target for us to deal with when I become the governor of Edo state. 

” I think in a nutshell one has captured it. You know, as Edo is the heartbeat of Nigeria they do require someone with experience. Someone with the right competencies. Someone who has the knowledge of the organized private sector and also the public sector. Someone who has worked at the sub-national level and also at the national level and who has the connect today between the sub-national government and the national government and the opportunities that avail themselves. Someone who understands and was dealing with multilateral agencies and doing all the negotiations for government, someone who handled all the donor aids that were coming to the country. Would that not be the right man to govern Edo State? Do we need someone that will come and experiment? Some will say that they have been in the organized private sector all their life.”

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