Edo: Obaseki’s 12 months in perspectives
It was a journey that started with a lot of promise, prospects, and doubts. Interestingly, 12 months into the four-year journey has produced more kudos than knocks.
But should anyone be surprised at the state of Edo State? I am sure an emphatic no would definitely be the response, considering the pedigree of the man, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who assumed the leadership of the state after the eight years of ex-governor Adams Oshiomhole.
With quality background from the private sector and history as the man behind the state’s economic success in the last dispensation, Obaseki has remained consistent in his efforts at making Edo prosperous.
For a man, whose campaign promise centred on economic prosperity and placing the state on the path of economic sustainability, the events of the past one year have not in any way dampened enthusiasm about the days ahead.
He had pledged effective interventions in the following areas: job creation, agriculture, entrepreneurship development, women empowerment, youth empowerment, civil service reforms, infrastructure expansion and tax reforms among others.
As someone resident in the state and a keen observer of events, it would amount to a great disservice to ignore the activities of the government in the aforementioned areas. Everyone in the state can safely be said to have directly or indirectly felt the impact of the administration’s strides.
To ensure that modest gains are recorded amid the current financial crisis in the country, the Obaseki administration introduced measures aimed at cutting the cost of governance. This, he did by ensuring that unnecessary ventures were not funded with public funds. One of such was his refusal to purchase new official vehicles for himself and his deputy.
To the admiration of many, he has been using the old vehicles inherited from the Oshiomhole administration.
Unlike the practice in most states, he has a lean number of official vehicles. He does not have a convoy of more than five vehicles, while his security details are very few, unlike for other governors.
The administration’s understanding of the nexus between infrastructure and industrialisation manifested fully, in the reconstruction of over 150 roads across the state. At the last count, not less than 57.82 Kilometres of inter and intra-city roads have been constructed since assumption of office. Also, construction work on about 255.6 kilometres of roads is ongoing, while 62 roads have been designed.
The roads, which spread across the three senatorial districts of the state range from single to dual carriage lanes. By connecting communities, towns and villages every part of the state is being for socio and economic development.
One is surprised at this modest achievement given the paucity of funds for the prosecution of the project. The fact that we can point at the projects that had been executed with the meager funds, makes it imperative to appeal that the Ministry of Infrastructure is empowered to do more.
This was even brought to the fore recently by the State Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Osahon Amiolemen, who appealed for an increase in budgetary allocation to the ministry in the 2018 fiscal year.
“We are appealing that in the next budget, we will have something that will go a long way in putting smile in the face of the people. Some have been treated and some have not been paid for. Looking at the number of roads we are supposed to do with the budgetary provisions in 2017. The paucity of funds makes it very difficult for us to really do what we intend doing because we are financially constrained in that area,” he stated.
In the area of job creation, what the state has witnessed showed that the pledge of creating two million jobs is certainly coming to fruition. A few months ago, the governor ordered the employment of 4,200 youths across the state under the Edo state public works programme.
Accordingly, Obaseki directed the engagement and training of 50 civil engineers, who would supervise the programme. The successful applicants were sourced from the database of unemployed youths developed by the government for the Edo Jobs initiative.
The state government also finalised arrangements to train young electrical and electronic engineers under a special arrangement with Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The programme would build the capacity of young men and women on the practical side of electrical engineering in line with the ‘Electrify Edo project’, which kicked off with the signing of a power purchase agreement between the government and Siemens AG and Ossiomo Power limited, a few months ago.
The government has also prioritised education to ensure the sector received rapid infrastructural development in continuation of the policies put in place by the previous administration.
On environmental sustainability, the administration created the ‘Clean and Green Edo’ in order to make the state environmentally friendly for investment and habitation. Certainly, sooner or later, the state would be creating wealth from waste recycling in line with the Clean and Green Edo programme.
As the administration commemorates its one year anniversary, one can gladly say that things are looking up in every area.
• Osagie, a human rights activist writes from Benin City
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