September 13, (THEWILL) – There are concerns that Nigeria’s deepening revenue challenge may escalate into a financial implosion, with the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (sub-nationals), being the worst hit. The situation is aggravated by the nation’s escalating public debt stock (standing at N33.107 trillion as of March 31, 2021), consuming a huge amount of money for debt servicing. The debt stock comprises domestic and external loan obligations of the Federal Government and the sub-nationals.
With over 70 percent of the nation’s revenue committed to debt servicing annually, governments at all levels are struggling to survive. There is little left for capital budget, pay salaries and undertake other priorities to grow the economy. Moreover, there is a limit to which the people and corporates could be taxed. Yet, profligacy takes the centre of our governance space while frugality assumes the back seat.
As such, the sub-nationals are hemorrhaging huge resources in paying salaries and other emoluments of a bloated bureaucracy. To survive, they are urged to diversify their resource base, embark on aggressive internally generated revenue (IGR) and depend less on shrinking federal allocations.
The purpose of the State of the States project, is to present evidence-based alternatives. These include avenues for the sub-nationals to become more viable and less dependent on the proceeds of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) – referred to as Abuja handout.
State of the States, a bi-weekly publication, will periscope two states per edition. It endeavours to unearth hidden treasures in each state and ascertain, through consultations and evidence-based survey, areas of comparative advantages and economies of scale. The publication will show-case, in no exaggerated terms, the socio-economic status of each state and highlights the opportunities and threats.
Furthermore, State of the States will examine existing realities that hinge on sector-specific competitive advantage – Agriculture, Tourism, Transportation, Education & Skill Acquisition, Wellbeing and MSMEs. Ultimately, the project seeks to create the desired spotlight on the sub-nationals to motivate them into something different for better results. We have featured Lagos and Ogun, Kwara and Kogi, Anambra and Enugu, Benue and Taraba.
This week periscopes Edo and Delta.
Edo State was created in 1991from the Northern portion of old Bendel State and its capital is Benin City the largest urban centre of the state.
The economy of the state depends majorly on agriculture. Edo has favourable climatic and ecological conditions with 70 percent of its land blossoming with the agricultural sector. It is endowed with three ecological zones: the rain forest, with some mangrove swamp in the south; a little rain forest and savannah in the central; and more of savannah and a little rain forest in the north.
The vegetation belts of the state can be generalised into: Fresh Water Swamp, Lowland Rain Forest and Derived Savanna, with almost nine months of rainfall in the southern part of the state. The weather is classified into two seasons: rainy season starting from April to October and dry season from November to March. There is a cold harmattan between December and January. Prominent crops grown in the state include rubber, oil palm, cashew, cassava, rice, maize, cocoa, timber, plantain, pineapple and cashew.
The state government recently identified about 200 solid minerals in different locations. It looks forward to partnering with investors to harness them. Some of the minerals include marble, gold, granite, lime stone, kaolin, gypsum, feldspar dolomite and saline. Others are tantalite, gemstones, quartz, bitumen, bentonite, laterite and sharp sand.
The Edo people constitute the largest population of old Benin Kingdom in the state. They are known to have rich culture, history and civilization dated back to the 16th century. Known for their work of arts, Benin artefacts are among the most exquisite and coveted in world’s history. It represents the earliest civilization among blacks, specifically Africans. This makes the state rich in tourism. Some of the places of tourist attraction include:
1. The Palace of Oba of Benin: Located in the heart of Benin City is the Oba of Benin’s Palace. It is one of the most popular sites in Edo State. The palace has been in existence since 900 AD. The current structure was built in 1914, and is actually one-tenth of the original palace which was destroyed by the British Forces. The palace has an array of local art and crafts, and historical pieces. No vacation in Benin City is complete without visiting the Oba of Benin’s palace.
2. Somorika Hills: Somorika is about five kilometers north east of Igarra and 165 kilometers from Benin City. The hills are a part of the rolling landscape of the Kukuruku Range. The beauty of the scenery is huge.
3. Ughoton: Ughoton is about 42kms from Benin City, historically very important to the Binins and Yoruba regarded by historians and researchers to be the “East” that Oduduwa of Yoruba land migrated from.
4. The Tombstone of Captain James Phillip: Located at Uruokhokho, this sight marks the spot where Captain Phillip and his party were killed and buried, the event that led to the British invasion of Benin Empire in 1897.
5. Igun-Eronmwon Quarters: Lover of arts, should visit the Igun-Eronmwon quarters popularly known as Igun Street (listed as a Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO). It is home to the brass/bronze casting industries in Benin City.
6. The Local Markets: Oba market. New Benin market, Agbado market, Osa market, Oliha market, Ogiso market, Ikpoba hill market and Uselu market are all in Benin City. They are markets to interact with the locals and buy nice souvenirs.
7. Chief Ogiamen’s House: Chief Ogiamen’s house is located at No. 97 Sakpova Road in Benin City. It is a National Monument situated within the city walls and Moat (another historical monument). It was built about 1130 AD with great significance as the only building that predates the emergence of Obaship in Benin’s political organization. It is also the only building that survived the 1897 British expedition and siege. It was declared a National Monument on May 26th, 1959.
8. National Museum, Benin City: This national museum is home to various antiques and bronze artwork originally from the ancient Benin Kingdom.
9. The Benin Moat: The Benin Moat also known as ‘Iya’ is the largest man made earthwork in the world. Indeed, one of the wonders of the world that you should see. It predates the use of modern earth moving equipments or technology in these parts. The moat encircles the perimeter of the city and was constructed as a defensive barrier in times of war. Oba Oguola (about 1280-1295) dug the first and second moats to fortify the city from invaders.
10. Okomu National park is located in Ovia South Local Government Area of Edo State. It’s some 45 kilometres west of Benin City. The park houses rare species such as a white throated monkey. The park is also home to other animals which include buffaloes, chimpanzees, elephants, porcupine, monkeys, antelopes, birds and several others.
11. Ososo Tourist Centre: Ososo tourist centre offers a pleasant site of viewing two states at the same time – Edo and Kogi. The centre has a rest house at the top of Ososo Hill.
12. Igun Bronze Casters And Crafts Centre: This is the home of brass and bronze castings in Nigeria. It is quite peculiar to Edo state. It is located at Igun Street and has been listed as a Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.
Local Govt Areas: 18
Population: 4.1 million @ 2019
Land area: 6,873sqmi
Registered businesses: 1,665
Public primary schools: 1,500 (circa)
Public secondary schools: 510 (circa)
Polytechnic: (5) Federal 1, State 1, Private 3.
State College of Agric: 1
Technical School: 7
Colleges of Education: (3) one federal, two state
Universities – (7) One federal, Two state 4 private
Total Revenue: N94.15bn
Total tax: N 23.53bn @ 2020
IGR: N27.18bn @ 2020 (31.76% of total revenue)
FAAC: N58.40bn @ 2020 (68.24% of total revenue)
Domestic Debt: N80.78bn @ 2020
External Debt: $280.29m @ 2020
Unemployment rate: 19.0% 2020
Edo state has one airport – Benin airport.
Investment in Agriculture is Solution to Food Insecurity – Obaseki
The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, recently called the attention of The Federal Government on the urgent need to shift focus from crude oil to agriculture. He urges that the nation can earn $20 billion annually from the cultivation and production of oil palm.
Obaseki stressed that at this crucial period of economic downturn due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges, agriculture is a reliable alternative source of revenue.
The governor said he is investing in the agriculture as solution to food insecurity and create wealth for Edo citizens.
He said: “The Nigerian oil palm economy has the capability of earning over $20 billion for our country yearly just for cultivation and production. This is why in Edo State, we have taken the bold step of increasing the production of oil palm by supporting investors through the provision of land and a peaceful, secure and business friendly environment to boost their investment.”
He said “effectively and efficiently encourage investors; the state launched the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) in partnership with other private sector stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).”
“Under the programme, the CBN committed about N69 billion to support investors who invested in oil palm in Edo State, in line with the Federal Government’s determination to diversify the economy.”
The state is positioning to take advantage of the AfCFTA scheme to boost the real sector. According to the governor, “We are encouraging creative young talents and local manufacturers in Edo State to tap from the offerings from the AfCFTA.
We are expanding capacity at the Edo Production Centre and the Edo Innovation Hub so that we can build an army of productive young people to grab the opportunities offered. We have success stories from these facilities already.
We have already initiated the Edo Tech Park project as another veritable launch pad. We are confident that these initiatives would empower our people to create wealth and employment opportunities to improve the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Challenging Factors: Insecurity, erosion menace, inefficient electricity supply, poor state of the roads and multiple taxes by state and local governments.