Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, CFR, earlier today, Thursday, October 20, 2022 had an extensive interactive session with Ndi Anambra on Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) where the people had an opportunity to call in and ask the Governor questions in regards to the government activities.
The MD of ABS, Mr Chido Obidiegwu who anchored the programme, in his intro revealed that Mr Governor promised to interact with ndi Anambra every four months so they can air their views, opinions, criticisms and suggestions. It’s in fulfillment of that promise that Governor Soludo is making a second appearance on the programme.
Mr Chido throwing the floor open for questions asked Governor Soludo to tell ndi Anambra where the flood crisis emanated from and what extent he has intervened in finding solutions
Governor Soludo in response to the question said the flood is an annual occurrence but the one of this year is quite different because of higher levels of water tide experienced.
He said no state in Nigeria is experiencing the high level of erosion that exists in the state. 30% of erosion has taken over the Land and most of the roads are splitting into two.
“Seven LGA in the states have largely be submerged. Hundreds of thousands of homes, assets and farmlands are under water. Thousands of people are displaced. They ran from their homes to camps and families.
“Our major aim is to save lives. Those in camps, we want to ensure they feed, have access to medicines and solar for electricity. Once this water subsidizes, we will continue to tend to them because many will start life all over again.
“This is an annual occurrence so we will be fully prepared for that of next year. We shall provide modern speed boats to ease means of transportation for residents in the riverine areas.
“Boats and Canoes are no longer secured. There was an incidence of boat mishap that led to loss of lives.
“We have also commenced serious conversation with the Federal Government. Cameroun opening their dams and allowing these floods to cause destruction shall no longer be tolerated.
“Why is Nigeria no longer building dams? Cameroun built theirs in the 1980s and we didn’t do the same. We need to build up to four dams so when Cameroun open theirs, the flood won’t occur.
The Governor extended his gratitude to good spirited Ndi Anambra who have been donating to the displaced flood victims. He said a special account will be opened to help victims to start life afresh.
“We must prepare for the next flood. NEMA should have an office in Anambra because the state has annual flooding.
The Chairman NUJ Anambra Chapter, Dr Odogwu Emeka Odogwu asked when will works begin in all the roads already flagged off?
The Governor replied that a number of roads have been flagged off. He said; “This is October and the rains are falling. Asphalt is not good to be applied during rainy season.”
“We want to construct stone base roads with cement stabilization and moisture content. A quality never seen before!” Governor Soludo said
“By the end of next month, every local government must have one road construction. Some have already begun. From Okpoko (14km) is ongoing, Akpaka to Nsugbe and decongestion of 33.
“Any road we flagg off, I must go and inspect it. We inspected 13km of road at Awka from Okpuno to Isuaniocha and work will start soon.
“From ogidi to Ogbunike, there’s heavy water there which is already being tackled. From Amansea to Obefemmili, Amansea, Awa down to Ufuma Junction, Akpali to Ogbunka, IgboUkwu to Ikenga, Contracts have been awarded and we shall be flagging off the roads soon.
“We are going to Ekwusigo, Ihiala, Nnewi South, Osumenyi and Ezinifite, Aguata to Ayamelum. Work is ongoing at Nnobi; Inland doors, Umuoji Area.
“It’s a promise we are determined to keep. Road! Road!! Road!!! Work is ongoing at New Market Road, the entire roads at Fegge, I have toured there. It’s been 40 years ago construction work has been carried out there.
“I went to Owelle-aja Obosi. If it rains heavily, water level gets to their necks. I have seen these roads, I feel them and I see what people are going through on a daily basis. We are determined to fix them.
“As the dry season approaches, you will see heavy construction work ongoing.
“The timelines of these roads I awarded would be completed before my 1st year in office. From Mmiata, the road should be completed before March next year. The one of Amansea should be completed before February next year.
Many of the roads have timelines of 8 months, 1 year, 18 months. Our first construction cycle is October to March. The Second Construction cycle should see us constructing over 100km of roads by the end of next year.
Lady Ify Obi who is the Station Manager of Unizik FM asked the Governor questions on insecurity. She said when it was looking that the environment was getting calm, some hoodlums attacked Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’s convoy few months ago. She asked if the culprits have been arrested.
Governor SOLUDO said when he assumed office, the security situation in the state was very terrible with over 15 camps set up from which they operate.
“I was tough in my resolve to find a solution because light and darkness cannot cohabit together.
“Those criminals who attacked Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah, some of them have been arrested but full briefing in that regard shall be given in detail.
“The others who attacked vigilantes and military personnel, they can run but can’t hide. It’s only a question of time. Each day, we get closer in apprehending them.
“Anambra must be calm and secured! We are ready to help these criminals if they make up their mind to stop crime. We will help and empower them.
“Communities have lots of responsibilities to do. Any youth who attain quick wealth, interrogate and investigate him on how he accumulated such sudden wealth.
“Crime won’t vanish completely in 3 or 6 months. It will take time but we shall overcome!
“The days of these criminals are numbered because there is no place to hide.
Lady Ify Obi also asked the Governor to give assurance to Ndi Anambra who would be visiting the state during the festive period.
Governor Soludo maintained that Ndi Anambra employed him to secure lives and properties. He said as Government, he will do all he can to ensure the state is safe for Ndi Anambra during the festive period.
He urged Ndi Anambra if they hear or see something, they should say something. He said their assistance and cooperation will help the Government win the fight against crime in the state.
“We are encouraging communities to invigorate their local vigilantes to give us information. We make arrests any time of the day even at midnight. Give us information and we shall go pick them up.
Mr Jude Atupalizi, the Editor-in-Chief of Fides Newspaper asked the Governor on how far he has gone on taxation.
The Governor replied that oil money is dwindling. He recalled in his inaugural speech where he mentioned that the Government of advanced countries use taxes to work and solve public problems.
“Everyone must pay their fair share. Lagos generate over N50 billion in one month from the taxes the people pay.
“Of course, I’m conscious of tax incidence on the poor and making sure it’s not heavy on them. What Keke drivers pay now is less than 50% of what they pay before. The only difference is that they are asked to pay monthly.
“Unions collect illegal taxes from these Keke operators. They do this for a living and use it to enrich their pockets.
“We have disbanded these unions. If you want to belong in any union from henceforth, it will be on a voluntary basis.
“Keke operators are asked to pay N15000 in a month (N600 a day) compared to when they pay N1500 a day (N30000 monthly). We have removed this tax burden on them.
“We are also after Touts (Agberos) because they are no longer needed in the State. When I toured Onitsha, the people appreciated our efforts in driving them away.
“In our billboards, we write “Solution is here! Your tax money is at work.” My promise to Ndi Anambra is that they will get value for every Kobo they pay
“We recruited 5000 teachers and we must pay them monthly. We will pay pensioners who haven’t received their gratuities since 2018. This is at a time the receipts from oil have declined.
“With taxes, we can construct roads and solve other problems. When people pay their taxes, government provide services in an accountable manner.
“It’s difficult for a start but with time, people will begin to see the dividends of these taxes.
“Part of our revolution is to get rid of these billionaire tax merchants but they won’t leave easily without a fight. Majority of them instigated the Keke drivers protests that happened last month in the state.
“If everyone pays half of what they should, Anambra will be on course. Under my watch, Anambra will see the progress and value of their taxes.
“The conversation on tax and value is what we take serious but we want to lower the burden on the poor.
The MD of ABS, Chido Obidiegwu spoke about the Governor closing revenue doors and organizing a public bid. He said it’s a way of demonstrating transparency.
Governor Soludo said the public bid opened his eyes to see the value of various government concessions. He said the top ten bidders are also included to winners of the bid Incase, they fail to pay to the government, the other top bidders are available to take charge of the concessions.
Mr Governor in his response to waste management in the State said it is impossible to clean Anambra from Awka.
“We can’t continue to tolerate dumps and heaps of refuse in the State. We can’t sit with an Agency in Awka and clean the whole state. We have to take it to the local government level.
“Waste management is local. We must develop a local mechanism we can monitor. House to House collection of Refuse and sweeping of streets is the next level we are targeting because we want Anambra to be the cleanest state.
“Cleaning up Anambra is our responsibility. It is not meant for Government alone. Those throwing dirts in the gutters and blocking drainages, including those who build houses and channel water flow to the streets, will have to stop.
“A whole lots of things lies on us. In keeping Anambra clean, everyone has his or her own responsibility.
The first caller Chimezie Nwafor, an indigene of Agulu called from Abuja. He asked about insecurity and leadership tussles between President Generals and Traditional Rulers at the Community Levels.
Governor Soludo said his administration wants to democratize Government at the local government level. “In this particular system, there’s no room to recruit thugs to molest people. PGs, Igwes and Town Unions must have their code of conducts.”
The second caller, Chinedu Okafor from Awka appreciated the Governor and pleaded with him to build more roads in the State
The third caller, Ifeanyi from Awka pleaded with the Governor on more roads construction and elimination of Touts in Onitsha along Owerri road extorting money from people
Governor Soludo thanked Ifeanyi for the information. He assured the Enforcement team and police in that area will step up its activities and reiterated that this is the kind of information we need.
The fourth caller requested about implementation of law and order in the state. He asked about the Truth, Justice and Peace Committee set up and what impact they have made so far
The Governor revealed the committee have had two sittings since it was set up. He said spilling of blood can’t take us anywhere.
“The criminals we have apprehended, all of them are Igbos. It is Igbos doing harm against their own brothers. Some confessed openly on how many people they have killed.
“It is an abomination! Those in the forest are plain criminals. They have no other objective, moving around with dieties. Animals don’t kill their fellow breeds but we humans kill each other.
“Anyone who spills blood will also be killed alongside his generation. He who kills by the sword must die by the sword.”
The fifth caller, Chinedu an indigene of Aguleri called from Onitsha. He complained about thugs in Onitsha. He said Government Task force only operate in the Afternoon but at night, these Thugs come out and operate.
He also said there are others who call themselves the Solution Team at upper Iweka but frequently molest car owners.
He asked for a Special Team to be set-up that will implement law and order.
The sixth caller, Okechukwu from Awka asked about Keke operators in towns and villages who must pay the same amount of taxes as operators in cities.
He also said there’s population explosion in Awka and there’s need for road expansion
Governor Soludo said touting has become an industry. “Many of these youths have been involved in it for 15-20 years. Their operating hours and location at 33, Nsugbe, Aroma, we will be getting there and picking them.”
“We are not relenting. Agbero will have no space in Anambra. There’s a youth empowerment training programme that will begin.
“We will dualize our roads! There is road crises in our state and have declared a state of emergency on it subject to resource constraint.
“We will raise funds and temporary loans of which we haven’t gotten yet. But we have conserved what we have, paying contractors 50% upfront.
“And as we collect revenue, we should be able to pay back these loans. There are communities that don’t have even 1km tarred roads.
“The whole of Anambra budget can’t fix all the roads in Awka alone unfortunately. Phase one of the roads we are dealing with are roads that are very strategic that impact on a large number of people and address traffic challenges.
“The constructed roads should help decongest and ease traffic. We are intervening in places that will become game changers.
“In phase two, we will build bridges. I understand every village needs roads.
Ify asked about the law controlling burial ceremonies. She said Ndi Anambra are complaining the govt request they pay N100,000 before burials are conducted and this rumours has gone viral.
The Governor replied that Anambra has a funeral law passed by Anambra House of Assembly about 3 to 4 years ago and the law is meant to control extravagant expenditure people make when burying their dead.
“This law was not passed by me. This law covers burial billboards, fliers and brochures. The law says no more of these wasteful conducts.
“When the dead was alive, nothing was spent on him or her until they die. When they die, you spend a fortune on them.
“The point is, this is the law of ANambra state before I came in. Why it is talked about is because a law is a law and we abide by the rule of law. My government didnt introduce the law, It was passed by previous administration.
On response to questions raised on ABS Facebook Channel, criticizing the Governor on not appointing people with disability.
Soludo said the principal consideration in our appointment is what value are you bringing. We are not giving appointment to disabled persons for symbolic reasons.
“Special training centres are being built for people with inability in hearing. We are putting in resources where it matters. We will not measure inclusiveness by gesture. We stand with those with disabilities and shall empower them to be more useful citizens in the state
Replying “The coercing indigenous construction companies” as a Facebook user described it, Soludo said; “we are trying to get companies to be socially responsible in the environment they operate.”
“We will get the possibility of those who are sensitive to the local environment. The job content of every contract is very important because we will provide jobs to our youths.
“This govt is squeezing to the bare bones, value for money, doing more with less is our MANTRA. The contract guarantee on every roads we are delivering is 20 years
On response to NAPTIP, Soludo said it is a federal agency and they have their federal funding.
“You don’t come to a state to ask it for funding. If you come here, you should pay your bills. You should pay for your own accommodation, that’s your responsibility except it’s a project we agreed and collaborated together.
The Governor once again asked Ndi Anambra to send photos or phone numbers to pick up these thugs.
“We are very serious with these thugs marauding the streets. We are ready to retrain and empower them if they are willing to be useful members of the society.
“Every Agbero trying to extort money from the people is a thief and will be treated as such. We are not playing with this issue.
“0.01% of a group cannot define who we are because Anambra people are not lazy. We are hardworking and enterprising people. Anambra is a place for a people with honour and integrity,” he concluded.