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NATIONAL NEWS

Expect More Development In Imo, Uzodimma Assures At Inauguration

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*Imo Safe, Happy, Ready For Business, Says Tinubu*

 

After his inauguration on Monday for a second term in office, Governor Hope Uzodimma told the people of Imo State to expect more development in the next four years.

Governor Uzodimma and his new Deputy, Lady Chinyere Ihuoma Ekomaru, were inaugurated at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, at a well-attended ceremony that attracted the high and mighty from Imo State and beyond including from the Presidency, the National Assembly, the Judiciary, the traditional institution, the clergy, the academia, captains of industries and others.

The Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice Theresa Chikeka administered the oath on Governor Uzodimma and his deputy, Lady Ekomaru, surrounded by their family members.

In a massive show of solidarity, the Imo State First Lady, Barr. Chioma Uzodimma led the other 21 First Ladies to grace the occasion.

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Uzodimma said massive economic development and concerted efforts to sustain the gains of the foundation already laid for the economic prosperity of the State is a task his second term must accomplish.

“I want us to see the event of today as remarkable because it opens a new page in our history. That new page is the commencement of our determined march to economic growth and self-sufficiency. It heralds the new dawn in our efforts to develop Imo State and make it one of the leading industrial states in Nigeria and indeed, West Africa. This is our vision and mission, and it is doable.”

The Governor also reiterated his pledge in his New Year message, that his second term performance will exceed and in fact, dwarf that of his first term.

In his brief keynote address after witnessing the inauguration, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu remarked that he was glad that “today, Imo is safe, happy and ready for business.”

Governor Uzodimma in his address assured that his second-term ambition is to work to ensure that Imo State is the industrial hub of the South East, Nigeria, and West Africa.

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“It is one that our generation must accomplish, to the glory of God,” he said adding “my second tenure shall be defined by an uncommon apostolic zeal and tenacious application of clinical efficiency in the execution of policies.”

The Governor promised that the massive economic development of Imo State with emphasis on 15 sectors will permeate every community or ward through the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) where, in the next 12 months, each community will have something to show, based on their needs as government presence, either in the area of electricity, portable water, health centre, market, etc.

The Governor’s address reads in full:

“My esteemed and beloved people of Imo State, it is to the glory of God that we are privileged to witness this momentous occasion of my swearing in as the governor of Imo State for a second tenure. I am mindful of the fact that this would not have been possible without your love and support at the governorship election of November 11, 2023. I thank you all most sincerely.

“As you witnessed, I have just performed the solemn ritual of taking the oath of office to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to serve the Imo people faithfully. Expectedly, the oath-taking ended with the invocation of God to help me. For me, this is not a mere ritual. It is a renewal of my covenant with God and the good people of Imo State. That covenant is to serve the Imo people honestly and faithfully, to the best of my ability, and with the fear of God.

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“So, as I give God the glory for making this day possible, I once again declare my profound gratitude to the Imo people who, through their unprecedented massive support for me in the November 11th, 2023 governorship election, made this day possible. Never in the history of democracy in our state has any governor won in all the local governments, but you did it for me. Thank you very much indeed. By that victory, I entered into a social contract with all Imo people, and it is a contract I intend to honour.

“I cannot proceed further without extending my deepest appreciation to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, for honouring us today with his highly esteemed presence.

“Mr. President Sir, Imo people feel very happy indeed that you squeezed out time from your usually crowded programs to be personally present at this event. It speaks volumes of your love for Imo people. Thank you Mr. President and welcome.

“I also welcome in a very special way, all State governors here present, former President Olusegun Obasanjo,  the National Chairman of our great party, His Excellency Abdulahi Umar Ganduje, members of the National Assembly, Hon Ministers, highly revered traditional rulers, notable leaders and members of the clergy from different parts of the country.

“On that note, let me gladly recall that in the last four years, we have demonstrated a high degree of commitment to duty. We demonstrated vision and purpose. We were also able to demonstrate that managing public funds honestly, prudently and transparently is doable and also yields more dividends of democracy.

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“Expectedly, our shared prosperity mantra, which is the philosophical fulcrum of my administration, was able to address the problem of infrastructure deficit and the near absence of governance that we met on the ground in January 2020.

“Through the provision of extensive road infrastructure, we have been able to lay a solid foundation for the accelerated economic growth and development of our state. We also addressed the decay in the civil service, education, and the health sector.

“In addition, we addressed the lingering problem of unemployment, through a variety of youth empowerment initiatives and artificial intelligence that included the provision of digital and other portable skills. There is, therefore, no gainsaying that the right foundations were put in place in the last four years to enable our state to move to the next level. Now, a tenure of four years has been availed to us, and we are ready, able, and determined to take our state to that next level.

“The next four years of my administration will, therefore, focus firmly on deepening our shared prosperity mantra through massive infrastructure expansion to ensure accelerated economic growth. I have already signaled this new direction in the 2024 budget in which capital expenditure has the lion’s share of 491.2b of the total budget of 591.2b or 83% of the budget. This transformational journey, which we have commenced with the 2024 budget, will be sustained in the next four years.

“In doing so, our vision will be anchored on our 10-year Development Plan, which has been outlined in my vision document. This development plan can transform Imo State into an industrial, self-sufficient state in the next ten years.

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“This 10-year development plan is also designed to deepen the intervention framework of my 3R mantra of Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction.

“In the development plan, we have identified priority sectors, including industries and projects, which will accelerate the economic prosperity of our dear Imo State such as the Orashi Free Trade Zone and the supporting businesses such as petrochemicals industries, gas processing facilities, etc.

“Another focus of the plan is to harness our agricultural potentials and exploit the mineral resources and align them to the proposed establishment of ceramic industry and agro-processing facilities across the three senatorial districts of Imo State. The lifespan of the development plan was deliberately made to last beyond my tenure because I believe that government is a continuum.

“Let me assure you that, on my honour, I am determined to exceed my first tenure records. As I said in my New Year broadcast, my second tenure achievements will dwarf the achievements of my first tenure. Those who followed the evangelical zeal of St. Paul in the Bible would know that he put in more effort in his second missionary journey because he wanted to consolidate the gains of the first journey. That spirit of St Paul’s second missionary journey shall be the spirit that will drive my second tenure.

“In like manner, I have been greatly inspired by the audacious and visionary transformational programs and policies of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR. His emphasis on infrastructure development through generous budgetary provisions for capital expenditure defines the qualities of a leader who is burning with the fervent desire to develop his country.

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“I am therefore delighted to affirm that my second tenure will be centred on the massive economic development of the state, which will permeate every community or ward. We shall kick start this through our Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI). Consequently, within the first 12 months of the current tenure, every community in the state will feel the impact with at least one significant project fully executed for them.

“Consequently, in the coming weeks, working with the local government council leadership, each community will be expected to identify one project that they want the government to do for them. The chosen project must have a direct and immediate impact on the overall economy of the communities.

“It could be in the form of provision of electricity, potable water, a road, a health centre, or a market development project. Further details and modalities for this community economic development initiative will be made available within the next few weeks.

“As I mentioned earlier, the policy thrust of my second tenure would continue to be massive investments in infrastructure, full recovery of the economy to a sustainable level, human capital development with emphasis on youth empowerment and educational advancement of our children, coupled with the further invigoration of the civil service for more efficient service delivery.

“Anything recurrent is considered the normal or statutory business of government.  Therefore, it must be taken care of in the course of governance.  In my normal tradition, the prompt payment of salaries and pensions will remain a priority.

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“My priority areas going forward will be on 15 critical sectors needed for the sustainable development of Imo State. This will be in tandem with my 3R mantra and the 10-year Development Plan as earlier mentioned.  The areas are:

  1. Road infrastructure
  2. Education
  3. Health
  4. Sanitation
  5. Water Supply
  6. Agriculture and Food Security
  7. Housing and New Cities Development.
  8. Digital infrastructure
  9. Transportation Infrastructure
  10. Market Access
  11. Industrial Policy
  12. Safety / Security
  13. Enabling Laws and Policies
  14. Public Financial Management
  15. Electricity Infrastructure

“In line with the standard institutional framework, each of these sectors is to be implemented in such a manner that the results would readily impact the economy and standard of living of the citizenry.

“My dear brothers and sisters, as you know, Imo State belongs to all of us, and building the state of our dream will require the contributions of every one of us, irrespective of our political affiliations. The time has come to bury all those differences so we can work collectively to develop our state. Remember, this is the only state we can truly call our own. Therefore, we should all think of how we can contribute to her growth instead of leaving it to the government alone.

“The least we can do to demonstrate our love and patriotic zeal for our state is to be law-abiding and responsible citizens who take our civic obligations to our state seriously. Our simple civic obligations like paying taxes, observing traffic rules, and keeping our environment clean can go a long way toward helping the government succeed.

“In the same vein, I urge all those with the wherewithal to think of establishing industries, especially in the rural areas, to help create jobs for the youths. On our part as government, we will continue to provide the enabling environment and assistance to encourage all well-meaning investors.

“My beloved Imo people, Ndi Imo, I have just given you a synopsis of my vision and mission for the next four years, which should suffice for this occasion.

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“Having said that, I want us to see the event of today as remarkable because it opens a new page in our history.  That new page is the commencement of our determined march to economic growth and self-sufficiency. It heralds the new dawn in our efforts to develop Imo State and make it one of the leading industrial states in Nigeria and indeed, West Africa. This is our vision and mission, and it is doable.

“In this regard, I am pleased to inform you that our shared prosperity flight which is taking us to the great Imo State of our dream, is now at cruising altitude. So, relax, unfasten your seat belts, and enjoy the rest of the flight. An experienced and dependable captain is in charge.

“I would also like you to take this home from this ceremony today: By the time we are through with another four years, the institutional and infrastructural structures we would have put in place will make it a herculean task for any Pharaoh to take Imo State back to Egypt.  Let me assure you that my second tenure shall be defined by an uncommon apostolic zeal and tenacious application of clinical efficiency in the execution of policies. The task is to make Imo State the industrial hub of the South East, Nigeria, and West Africa. It is one that our generation must accomplish, to the glory of God.

“Once again, I thank Mr. President and all the dignitaries who are here today for honouring us with their presence. thank you Ndimo for your love and uncommon solidarity. I invite you all to work with me to build a great Imo State that we shall all be proud of.

“Thank you and may God bless all of us.

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President Tinubu who congratulated Governor Uzodimma said it was a joy for him to be part of the swearing-in ceremony which afforded him the opportunity “to witness a rekindling of hope and blessing of the seed of prosperity.”

The President said that the relative peace the Imo people are enjoying today will be better, noting that the federal government will work together with the people to make it even better. “What we learn from this is for us to work together and pay attention to our internal security.”

Tinubu who said he was glad Imo State is part of a united country working hard to move it forward assured of his government’s readiness to bring substantial development in the areas of education, industrialisation, health care, training, and employment.

Catholic Archbishop of  Owerri, Most Rev Lucius Ugorji offered the inauguration prayer for the Governor, the Deputy, Imo State, President Tinubu and Nigeria.

Senate President and his deputy, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governors of Abia, Borno, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ekiti, Lagos, Rivers, Ogun, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, former Governor Rochas Okorocha, former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, the Ooni of Ife, the Obi of Onitsha, the Etsu Nupe, the Chairman, Imo State Council of traditional rulers, Eze EC Okeke, Ministers, serving and former members of the National and State legislators, captains of industries among other dignitaries too numerous to mention attended the event.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigeria’s Aviation Team Visits Abia, Inspects New Airport Site As Gov Otti Announces Access Bank Partnership

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The visiting federal government aviation team

In a renewed commitment to providing Abia State with a suitable airport, a federal government team from the Ministry of Aviation this week visited the state to inspect a proposed site for the planned new airport.

This comes as Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, announced that Access Bank, one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, has expressed a willingness to collaborate with the State Government on the airport development.

According to a press release from Kazie Uko, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, the Federal Government team was led by Dr. Emmanuel Meribeole, Permanent Secretary of, the Ministry of Aviation.
The team stated that it was in the state to ensure that the land and location approved for the project complied with regulatory requirements for airport siting.

Dr. Meribeole stated that the Federal Government is eager to complete the airport promptly, which prompted the visit of a team comprised of representatives from all of the country’s aviation agencies in charge of airport approvals and supervision to ensure compliance with required standards.

The team included aviation agencies such as the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

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Meribeole, while acknowledging Governor Otti’s visionary leadership, stated that members of his team are experts in their respective agencies and that the Abia airport project has already been included in the 2024 Federal Appropriation Act, albeit as an airstrip.

He acknowledged that airport projects are capital intensive, but emphasised that the benefits of having an airport cannot be overstated, as they would lead to the state’s accelerated development through job creation, commerce promotion, revenue generation, and other factors.

Governor Otti, who welcomed the Federal aviation team, thanked President Bola Tinubu for approving the construction of an airstrip in Abia.

He stated that while the national budget included funding for an airstrip, the Abia State Government would collaborate with the Federal Government to expand the airstrip into a full-fledged airport, as the primary distinction between an airport and an airstrip is the length and size of the runway.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for agreeing to build an airstrip in Abia and including it in the approved budget for 2024.

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“Even if the money is insufficient, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So, we are grateful to him.

“We also want to thank my friend and brother, the Hon. Minister of Aviation, Barr. Festus Kyamo, SAN, for everything he has done to make this a reality. We are constantly on the phone, discussing and brainstorming ways to accelerate this process.

“I would like to thank you for joining us in our hurry to complete this project. Once we had reached an agreement, we began looking for suitable land, which is the most important aspect of an airport. There were a few places that were previously mapped out, but when we went for a physical inspection, we discovered that some of them did not have enough space or were not properly located for the airport.

“Another important aspect of an airport is location, so we have now narrowed it down to the location that you are currently looking at. We did more than just identify the location; we also identified the landowners because it is a large parcel of land. “We had already begun engaging with them,” Governor Otti stated.

The Governor assured the team that the State Government is ready to see the project through in record time, as the people of Abia are eager to have their airport, as the state is one of only two in Nigeria that does not have one. The other is Osun State.

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“One thing you can take away from here is that the State will be in charge, and if anything is delayed, it is because it is coming from the centre; however, we are in a hurry.”

“I am personally involved in this, and I receive daily briefings. If I do not receive a briefing, I check in with them to see where we stand.

“So, this is to assure you that we are more than prepared and that you will receive everything you require in record time. And we hope that at least one airport will be built within the next year. “Once we have the runway and the terminal building, the rest will come in time,” he said.

The Federal Aviation team’s visit coincided with that of Access Bank, which was led by Mr. Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director/CEO.

Governor Otti expressed Access Bank’s willingness to participate and partner with the Abia State Government on the airport project “to ensure that liquidity does not become a problem.”

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According to Governor Otti, Access Bank has some experience financing airport projects, having helped deliver the Ogun State airport.

“I suggested to the CEO that the team meet with him so that we can bring them on board early enough. Our policy is not to borrow until necessary. If they had also been involved in one and delivered it, we could learn from their mistakes and build on the positive aspects,” the Governor said.

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

Obi To Tinubu: A Nation That Budgets N10bn For Car Parks And N1bn For Hostels In 12 Tertiary Institutions Not Normal

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Peter Obi and Bishop Ezeokafor at the occstion

*Donates N10m, Elevates Adazi College To World Class*

Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s 2023 Presidential Candidate, has once again condemned the federal government’s obvious financial recklessness and misplacement of priorities in funding allocation.

Obi condemned the continued allocation of public resources to non-essential areas of development.

The bearer of the LP standard emphasises Nigeria’s poor and embarrassing position in the global average in school enrollment, despite the government’s budget of N1 billion for the construction of hostels in 12 tertiary institutions in Nigeria, while N10 billion is allocated to the construction of parking lots and recreational facilities.

Writing on his X platform, the former Anambra State Governor said
“As Africa’s economic powerhouse, I am still concerned about our country’s fiscal indiscipline.
“Consider the situation in our education sector, where the global average for secondary school enrollment is more than 80%, but Nigeria’s is only 28%.”
“The global average for tertiary school enrollment is greater than 55%, while Nigeria has less than 15%.
“Our budget for National Assembly Car Parks is N6 billion. The National Assembly Recreational Facilities have a budget of N4 billion.
“The total amount approved for the construction of hostels in 12 tertiary institutions is N1 billion.
It is time to put an end to this financial indiscipline and embrace financial discipline by allocating resources to critical areas of human and national development.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Amanda State, Mrs Ezenwuba Mary-Michael, Head of Department of Nursing, reports that Mr. Peter Obi’s ongoing support for the School of Nursing in Adazi, both as Governor and as a private citizen, has propelled the school to world standards.
She spoke on Monday evening, when Mr. Obi paid a visit to the school and presented a cheque for N10 million in additional assistance.
Ezenwuba praised Obi’s dedication to the school, stating that it is now on track to become a world-class nursing school with his support.
“The college’s history would be incomplete without mentioning his contributions. These include: he donated two coaster buses and one 18-seater bus to the school; he constructed two-story administrative and academic buildings, as well as a two-story student hostel.”
Mrs. Ezenwuba continued, “With Obi’s assistance and the school’s efforts, the college is now a full-fledged college of Nursing Sciences that has scaled accreditation by the National Board for Technical Education and the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria and now awards Ordinary and Higher National Diplomas in addition to professional Certificates by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria”.
She, on the other hand, begged Obi to bring more students to the college.
Obi, for his part, promised to continue to assist the school.
He described healthcare as the most important aspect of development, and no discussion of it could be complete without mentioning nurses and midwives.
Obi said, “I will return.We are investing in a brighter future. If we do not train our children, including Almajiris, they will pose a threat to us tomorrow. “I will return this year to support what you are doing,” he concluded.
The Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Pius Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, who accompanied Obi to the College, stated that Obi has been very helpful to society and the church since before he became Governor.
Bishop Ezeokafor stated that Obi has done so much for the church that he has yet to see an equal in that regard, and that even though he is no longer governor, he continues to do so.
He stated that Obi is the best candidate for the presidency of Nigeria and apologised on behalf of Nigerians who had their hopes dashed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following voting counting in last year’s election.
However, he believes that God is still at work.
Obi was surrounded by enthusiastic students who freely approached him during the event.

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Nigeria Signs New Plan For Effective Water Resource Management

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The signing of the Strategic Catchment Management Plan (SCMP) by the Nigerian government is a significant step towards ensuring the long-term management and utilisation of the country’s water resources.

The Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project, sponsored by the World Bank, is heavily reliant on the Strategic Catchment Management Plan.

Speaking at the signing ceremony on Monday, Hon. Balarabe Lawal, Minister of Environment, said it was an honour and privilege to sign the agreement for a critical initiative that will affect citizens’ lives and environmental health.

He stated, “Today marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development. The Signing Ceremony for ACReSAL’s Strategic Catchment Management Plan (SCMP) is a significant step towards responsible natural resource management.”

He defined catchments as areas where water is collected and drained into natural or man-made channels. They are the foundation of our ecosystems, supporting livelihoods, agriculture, and biodiversity.

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He went on to say, “As we all know, catchments are critical ecosystems that support livelihoods, provide high-quality water, and safeguard biodiversity. However, they face numerous challenges, including soil erosion, insufficient waste management, and climate change. The SCMP aims to address these issues through management practices that are efficient, effective, and sustainable.

“The Integrated Catchment Management Plan lays out a long-term strategy for the sustainable development and use of water and other resources. It ensures that land, water, and related resources are developed and managed in a coordinated manner while preserving the viability of critical ecosystems.”

He stated: “The goal of this CMP is to provide several agreed-upon investments in infrastructure as well as other interventions and actions to help resolve conflict, conserve and protect the catchment and its natural resources, and ensure equitable access to and use of water resources.”

He said, “The Ministry of Environment, under my leadership, has promised Nigerians improvements in environmental sustainability interventions and initiatives. Indeed, what we are witnessing today demonstrates President Tinubu’s administration’s commitment to nature restoration and ecosystem protection.

“By implementing the SCMP, the ministries of Environment, Agriculture, and Water Resources will not only ensure long-term agro-climatic and land management but also improve the living conditions of northern Nigerian communities. This catchment plan will help to reduce poverty, promote sustainable agriculture, and safeguard the environment. Providing livelihoods for future generations.

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Previously, the consultant in charge of the project and the Managing Director of Mecon Geology and Engineering Services Ltd, Chuka Offodile, explained that the strategic catchment management plan study of the northern parts of Nigeria begins first with the scientific delineation of the entire northern Nigeria into 20 mega-catchments, then the scientific assemblage and analysis of data in that framework as a planning tool with its component natural and environmental resources.

He went on to say, “Water is central to environmental issues!” In many areas of northern Nigeria, there is either too little available, resulting in desertification and deforestation with badland topography, or too much water, resulting in flooding, gullying, soil leaching/erosion, and possibly water pollution due to contaminants in the air, on the surface, or groundwater resources, resulting in minimal to no available water resources for livelihoods, skewed biodiversity, and other socio-economic land uses, leading to lower agricultural production. There could be little surface water but plenty of groundwater, or vice versa, with all of the interacting components within each catchment’s communities!!!”

He stated: “In other words, we would identify and study the most significant water resource or resources within each catchment, as well as the challenges/environmental problems associated with anthropogenic (socioeconomic activ es ities) and natural phenomena, evaluating the geospatial relationship or interplay of all factors within each catchment.

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