...EU Ambassador lauds Obaseki's campaign against human trafficking, other devt strides
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his government is strengthening partnership with the European Union to sustain the gains recorded by his administration in human capacity development, job creation, and tackling illegal migration, among others.
Obaseki said this when he received the Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ms Samuela Isopi, who was on a courtesy visit, at the Government House, Benin City.
The governor said the state is consolidating ties with the EU and exploring new areas of investments in the culture and tourism, education, tech and other sectors of the state's economy.
He said, “We have had a very good and strong relationship with the EU since we got into office in 2016. They have been very supportive of our efforts at stemming the tide of irregular migration and human trafficking from Edo.
“For the successes and achievements we have made in the area of human trafficking and irregular migration, the EU has been a strong ally. They have worked very closely with us and their partner, the IOM, in ensuring they are able to roll out programmes to support victims of trafficking and returnees and help them with resettlement and job opportunities, making sure they are properly integrated into our society.”
Obaseki further noted, “We are now looking at windows for regular migration. How we can collaborate with the EU to create institutions to train our young people, certify and equip them so that they can be properly engaged and employed in Europe.” On areas of collaboration, the governor stated, "Next year, December 3rd, marks 200 years an Italian archeologist, Giovanni Benzoni, came to and unfortunately died in Benin City and was buried in Ughoton, which we will be celebrating. “We have gotten positive indication that the EU countries will support our bid to create and make Edo the culture hub of the subcontinent. This is just part of establishing Benin as the culture hub. It's not only about the return of artifacts but going back to our past and seeing what we have done, how great this place has been and the kind of relationships we have had with Europe through the last few centuries.” He added, “They have come with the true spirit of partnership to see how we can work together and support our efforts, not only in politics, culture or economy but to ensure that we continue to strengthen the relationship between, not just Nigeria and the EU, but also sub-nationals within Nigeria and the EU.”
On her part, the EU Ambassador who noted that added that Edo is one of the first states she's visiting since her arrival into Nigeria, hailed the Governor's development strides across all sectors of the state's economy.
She said, “Edo State, a few years ago, was the state from where 50 percent of the illegal migrants in Europe came from and now this percentage is lower than 10 percent. All thanks to the leadership of the state government and strong partnership with the European Union and other partners.
“We have a very strong partnership with your state government on migration and mobility, both on supporting the resettling of returnees from Libya and creating the right conditions for the youth of the state to find opportunities here - education opportunities, job opportunities, among others.
“We are positively impressed by the results that have been achieved and want to reassure His Excellency that we will continue to work together.”
Highlighting areas of cooperation, the Ambassador noted, “We know the potential that culture has to connect people but also to be a vector for development, especially for the young people. Edo State is a cultural capital. We heard so much about that - the history - and we wanted to come and see with our own eyes. We will visit the cultural sites and we are looking forward to it.
“We also try to use the opportunity to engage with political actors to discuss issues related to elections. The EU has been supporting elections in Nigeria since the return to civilian rule.
“We have consistently deployed election observation missions, supported INEC and other stakeholders with technical assistance and we will do the same thing for the coming elections.”
“We are also exploring opportunities of collaboration in the area of gender equality,” she added.