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Infrastructure Development in Edo State: Call, Ways and Means For Private Involvement
Presented at the 2004 Edo Okpamakhin Convention, held in Boston, Massachussets, July 3rd and 4th, 2004.
The present state of infrastructure in Edo State is poor at best. Infrastructure development such as good roads, clean and reliable water supply, electricity and telecommunications are required for any meaningful economic development and progress in any part of the world, including Edo State.
The primary responsibility, through public policy initiatives, execution and regulation, for infrastructure development and maintenance rests with the government; Federal, State and Local. Be that as it may, the purpose of this presentation is not to accuse or excuse the government, but to make a clarion call for and provide ways and means for concerned and interested individuals and private groups to become involved in impacting the infrastructure needs in Edo State, particularly in the villages and rural areas.
Arguably, some of what is being proposed is directed at alleviating basic needs and lack among the people. Some might say these are stopgap measures that do not address the root cause of the lack of good and adequate infrastructure in Edo State. I submit to you that the needs of the people cannot wait, while we wait for the various government entities to get their act together and discharge their sworn obligations and responsibilities to the people. I believe, however, that long-term solutions lie in the privatization of the provision, supply and maintenance of the infrastructure needs of the people.
The purpose of this presentation is two-fold:
(1) Highlight practical ways and opportunities for people to get involved in helping their indigent or chosen localities. We want to put together packages that individuals and groups can use to meet needs in the areas of infrastructure such as water bore holes, electricity, road building and maintenance.
(2) Call for Edo Okpamakhin (and other Edo umbrella organizations in Diaspora) to take a number of initiatives relative to infrastructure development, provision and maintenance in Edo State.
Many Edo individuals and private groups in Diaspora have over the years demonstrated their willingness and interest in funding projects for the public good in Edo state. Some of these include providing educational scholarships to indigenes, equipping/repair/maintenance of wards in hospitals, equipping/repairing of schools, etc. etc. Some individuals, out of pocket, have even provided water bore hole, with water reservoir and power generator to their villages in Edo State. Such individual and group efforts need to be facilitated, encouraged and multiplied all over the state.
I believe many more Edo individuals and groups of individuals will become involved in infrastructure development if the time consuming aspects of planning, preparation, selection, and technical know-how is capsulized, made available and publicized to our people in Diaspora. This is where Edo Okpamakhin can play a vital role.
As some individuals build and develop infrastructure, others can �adopt� existing or new infrastructure. Some can adopt roads (or portions of it) and make provisions for it to be cleared of brush annually. Still others can �adopt� a road and see to it that it is graded annually. Some can adopt the generator in their village and see to it that it is serviced regularly and reconditioned annually.
The proposal is to, through Edo Okpamakhin, develop packages for borehole water supply, road construction and maintenance, electricity generation/distribution. These turn-key packages will include costs, recommended reputable contactors in Edo State, supplies, etc. so an individual or groups of individuals do not need to spend a lot of time in planning and preparation or even know-how. All of these advance work would be completed and book shelved by Edo Okpamakhin for each of the different parts of the state; namely Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North.
We are proposing that Edokpamakhin set up task group(s) who can provide practical, implimentable and turnkey packages for various development projects. These packages will contain the following and more:
Infrastructure Development Packages should be prepared for the following areas and more:
Edo Okpamakhin is also being called upon to initiate an infrastructure needs assessment in Edo State. This will be a compilation and mapping out of basic infrastructure needs in various towns and villages in Edo State. It will answer questions such as:
Basically, many concerned and interested Edo�s do not know, don�t have the time or expertise to come up with what it takes to bring small scale basic infrastructure services to their loved ones and localities.
By accomplishing these, Edo Okpamakhin will not only be a resource to individuals but also become an avenue for international agencies interested in helping third world and undeveloped areas with basic infrastructure needs. It is no longer a secret that due to the high level of fraud, corruption and non-completion of government development projects sponsored/funded by international agencies in third world countries, many of these agencies are now looking for NGO�s and private groups through whom to meet the crying needs of third world populations. Edo Okpamakhin can liaise with international agencies to bring development to the state. There are also interested charitable organizations, such as World Vision. I have been told, though unconfirmed, World Vision is presently undertaking a broad based provision of water bore holes to villages in Ghana. I believe they and other organizations like them, may have the resource to do the same in Edo State and Edo Okpamakhin can be catalyst to make it happen.
Improved infrastructure is a contributor to a sense of well-being and progress in the state. I call on Edo Okpamakhin to initiate with our elected officials and State government the creation of Infrastructure Development Month, as an annual event, in Edo State. It will create an awareness in the minds of the people of the need for creation of new infrastructure and maintenance of existing infrastructure. It will also attract to Edo State a cadre of international and local volunteers to help with this vital area.
Villages and rural areas of Edo State are loosing population as people move to the big cities for �better� life and amenities, leading amongst others, to shrinking communal lands due to encroachment. Providing basic amenities to these areas would reduce their misery index and enable people to gradually return back and re-populate these areas; potentially impacting problems of a shrinking state and border disputes.
Individual involvement and self-help projects developed for public good will lead to a vibrant community. Without vibrant communities, for profit private investment in infrastructure development will not be financially viable.
In closing, I believe for Edo State to move forward for the better, each one of us must begin to ask ourselves; what can I do to move Edo State forward. The refrain should no longer be; �why are our elected officials and government not doing _____________, but what can I do to accomplish ________________. Frankly, there is a lot each one of us can do as an individual or as a small group of individuals.
This presentation recommends Edo Okpamakhin (and other Edo umbrella organizations) implement the following in Edo State.
1) Initiate a Basic Infrastructure Needs Assessment Report (BINAR). It will identify basic needs in various villages and communities. It should highlight in �bite sizes� what is needed and where.
2) Initiate task groups to create turn-key Infrastructure Development Packages (IDP) for each of the basic needs and areas identified in BINAR.
3) Publicize and make available the BINAR and IDP�s to Edo individuals and groups in Diaspora and locally. Edo�s are very concerned about the state of Edo State. Many will help meet a public need if they can get their arms around it and see how it can be done.
4) Utilizing the BINAR, liaise with international development agencies and charitable organizations with a view to bringing their development efforts to Edo State.
5) Initiate with the State Government the declaration of one suitable month of the year as Infrastructure Development Month. It will bring awareness and coalesce volunteers and resources locally and internationally to infrastructure creation and maintenance in the State.
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