By Don Osehobo Ofure
My mailbox is full with many questions from eager Edo people, who want to know the specific plan the APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s Manifesto the Simple Agenda for fire disaster. There are others who want to know about his plans for low cost houses.
Let me start with the Fire Service. I am aware because I have read about it as item (C) under the second letter of the Simple Agenda which is ‘Infrastructure Development and Urban Renewal’, that the incoming APC governor of Edo state has a Fire service policy.
Very recently, Pastor Ize-Iyamu commended the Federal Government for donating a very sturdy Fire Service vehicle to Edo state. The donation was the high point of the disaster and embarrassment, the Edo State Fire Service has become under the present government.
The very bad situation was summed up by the Nigerian Conference of Fire Service Directors who lamented the ugly state of the Edo fire service at its recent conference when it said, fire-fighters and equipments for quick response to disasters, are absent in Edo.
The body called on the State government to expedite action in approving the urgent recruitment of more fire fighters as those in the state fire service have become old hands as well as provide it with adequate funding for training and purchase of new state-of-the-art fire fighting equipments.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu is, “… seriously concerned about the Edo Fire Service responses to critical fire incidences, particularly within our major cities. The Uwelu Spare Parts market, Oliha market, Santana market, Osa market, and the Urhokpota fire disasters all within eight months have exposed the terrible state of our fire service and the government’s disdain for the common man hinged on her failure to respond and prepare for future incidences”.
As a result the Simple Agenda has a plan to ” modernize, scale up and enhance the capacity of Edo State Fire Service to respond effectively to critical fire incidents within 30 minutes in our cities”.
Also, “Every major market in the state will be reformed to accommodate a fire service unit. These units will serve as a branch of the state fire service”. This will be in addition to his government setting up, “dedicated water reservoirs in some areas of the state for the refill of water tanks of fire service trucks”.
On the subject of Housing, it is also a critical part of the Infrastructure development and Urban Renewal plan of Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s Simple Agenda, and is labelled (D). But let me digress a little.
The housing deficit in our country is put at over 20 million units. It is also estimated that more than 60% of Edolites live in substandard housing. Nigeria’s National Housing Policy (NHP) came on stream in 2006 as a solution to a growing and recurring problem of housing shortage.
It was in 2013, that the Federal government commissioned the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), a private sector-driven mortgage refinancing company with the public purpose of promoting home ownership for Nigerians while deepening the primary and secondary mortgage markets.
The Simple Agenda plans to addressing housing by encouraging, ” the Public-Private-Partnership initiative in the provision of decent housing units for people in the state”. To do this, the, “Government will supply quality housing through a policy for social housing for the poor and the vulnerable, and develop affordable houses for workers in the state”, as well as allow the public, ” access to affordable mortgages at single-digit interest rates”.
New Government Reservation Areas (GRA) are also planned and this the Simple Agenda hopes to actualize, ” by allocating land, providing infrastructure (including road networks) and inviting reputable developers to take over such areas at reasonable cost to government and the affected communities”.
The beauty of the policies and plans for the Fire Service and Housing in Edo state by the incoming government of Pastor Ize-Iyamu is that, they, ” would lead to the creation of additional jobs in the economy”.