Edo and Obaseki’s Grand Agenda for the Common Good – By Odeon Odalo

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki in Benin recently set the tone for the next four years when he would be the Chief Executive of the state, by declaring that the state would no longer be able to afford a government unable to create value across board. He assured the people of Edo, that he would be a listening governor, who discharges his responsibilities firmly and professionally.

The governor then set the machinery in motion to propel his vision with the announcement of the appointment of Mr. Osarodion Ogie as the Secretary to the State Government. He also appointed Mr. Taiwo Akerele as Chief of Staff and Mr. John Mayaki as Chief Press Secretary.

Ogie, a chip of the old block has been part of the Immediate past Oshiomhole era, first as Chief of Staff and later Commissioner for Works. Akerele was Co-ordinator of EDO SEEFOR while Mayaki was Executive Director, Media under Oshiomhole.

Before making the announcement, Obaseki met with the state Head of Service and Permanent Secretaries and asked them to take full charge of the affairs of their ministries, pending his appointment of commissioners. He solicited for maximum cooperation from the civil service to enable him discharge his mandate effectively even as he expressed confidence in the civil service. He then pledged that his administration would build a more stronger, vibrant, trusted, competent and reliable workforce to meet the challenges ahead.

That the new governor would rely heavily on the state public service to oil the wheel of his administration became evident when he announced plans to re-evaluate the recruitment process into the service to ensure that merit and objectivity were not compromised. He promised to study the report of his transition committee alongside that submitted by the permanent secretaries, before setting up a policy group to outline specific programmes for the administration. “I have no doubt about the capacity of the civil service, but we will also need to clear the clog on the wheel of progress”, he said.

In another forum Governor Obaseki has set job creation for the teeming population of youths as a task he must carry out. He said: “First, we must recover our society. We are likely to lose our society if we do not begin to emphasis those key issues of human development and economic empowerment. We have too many young men and women in our own estimate between half a million to 3 quarter of a million, between the ages of 15 to 30, who have nothing doing.”

For him, the solution to the challenge of so many jobless young people, is to begin the task of immediately creating jobs. He noted that in line with the promise made on the campaign trail, jobs will be created to drastically reduce the number of unemployed young people in the state. He noted that one way to reduce unemployment in the state was to revamp technical education, so that young people could acquire the skills to get into several sectors of the economy.

“We promised a minimum of 200,000 jobs and to do that, we first have to understand our direction and the challenges we face in terms of unemployment…we went to Benin Technical College which was established 40 years ago to champion technical and vocational training for young men and women. The challenges are enormous because what we saw was pitiable and even though we have an obvious task, we are not daunted at all”.

The governor said, ” …we will, using this institution to quickly understand what we need to do and the investments we need to make. To create the platform, put a lot of our young people through training so that they can be employed in the businesses that we are attracting to this state.”

It will be recalled that the governor took office barely three weeks ago when he declared that he is, “honored and elated by the opportunity and privilege that the people of Edo State have given me by your collective democratic decision to guide the ship of our Great Edo State for the next four years as we set new sails into an unknown but promising future”.

He said, “The honour that this fortuitous coincidence bestows on me will always be a constant reminder of the enormity of the task I assume today which is to guide the pursuit of the good and well-being of the people of Edo State with relentless vigour, uncompromising commitment and diligence”.

“We need to strengthen and expand the infrastructure that has been established so that we have a solid foundation on which to build the New Edo State of our passionate Dream. By infrastructure I refer not only to the physical infrastructure, namely the roads, utilities and facilities, but infrastructure in its widest sense. We also need to build and sustain a robust human, intellectual, philosophical and even metaphysical infrastructure for without them it is virtually impossible to attain significant progress and derive the extraordinary value that we desire from our efforts so as to build the Great Edo State we all yearn for”.

During his campaigns the governor promised to create 200, 000 jobs in four years. He says, “we will achieve this by leveraging our comparative advantages and key factor endowments in production and commerce. Specifically, we will focus on agriculture and agribusiness value chain, entrepreneurship, investments in industries and technical and vocational skills. We will also fill vacancies in the Civil service and optimise the job creation potentials in infrastructure development”.

With dwindling revenue from oil exports and concomitant decline in revenue from the Federation account, Obaseki believes that, “Agriculture is a major focus in our socio-economic programme because of its strategic importance in many areas, from rural development, economic development and job creation to critical revenue generation and job creation”.

He argues that, “Many Edo people will generate wealth by keying into our value chain development of oil palm, cassava, cocoa, grains, rubber, fruits and vegetables. We will create over 150,000 jobs within the next 4 years under a farm ownership and management model built around our out-growers’ scheme. We will support the growth of over 20,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with the further creation of over 50,000 associated jobs in the nest 4 years through access to low interest financing”.

On the Development of Industries he says, “We will utilize the advantage which we have in generating electricity and our location as the heartbeat of the nation to attract industries to Edo State. This he said will be by helping local businesses particularly SMEs with the enabling environment to thrive”. He also promised that his Government will establish a one-stop-shop to provide incentives and support to make it easier for our people to produce goods and services”.

“We will focus on improving the ease of doing business and provide credit enhancements for businesses operating within the state with special attention on the productive industries. Infrastructure Expansion We will consolidate the gains of the last eight years by continuing the infrastructure revolution and urban renewal initiatives. We will continue to improve and expand education infrastructure to ensure that education is available to all Edo children”.

Obaseki has also promised more such as renewed focus on technical and vocational education. Information and Communications Technology Information technology which he sees as key component to , “achieving our objectives and we will make broad band proliferation a top priority in our infrastructure development”.

(Odalo, a journalist wrote from Benin City)

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