The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his government is exploring investment opportunities with the Indian Government to sustain the gains recorded by his administration in boosting Technical Education and Vocational Training (TVET) as well as human capacity development, among others.
Obaseki said the government is finalizing plans with the Government of India to train more teachers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, boost the capacity of civil and public servants and groom more youths on technical and vocational skills.
The governor said this when he received the Consul General of India, Mr. Chandramouli Kern, who led other top Indian Government officials on a courtesy visit at the Government House in Benin City.
He said, “We want to start with programmes that already exist so that we can quickly key into it and start our relationship from there. We are a subnational and we have seen opportunities in working with Indian sub-nationals.
“We are looking at seeing how we can get to some states or sub-nationals who have their own programmes because it is faster rather than wait for the Federal Government of India and the Federal Government of Nigeria to agree in terms of some bilateral arrangements before we can move ahead.
“One of the quickest challenges we have to industrialization is that our education system, unlike India, has not emphasized technical training enough but still has the English prep school arrangement whereas many of the Asian countries have emphasized more technical training at the secondary level, giving kids a lot of options to use their hands.”
The governor continued: “We want to explore and talk with you to quickly bridge the gap in sourcing teachers to train students in technical subjects in our schools. We would like to seek specific opportunities in STEM and technical education, looking at the iLearn scheme which you have.
“Also, at the federal level, we would like to collaborate with you in the area of bureaucracy. India and Nigeria have the same Commonwealth tradition in terms of bureaucracy but we know that India has undertaken a lot of transformation using technology in upscaling its bureaucracy and also providing services to its citizens.
“We have established our own public service training academy in Benin City and are seeking the opportunity to exchange ideas and have mutual training programmes whether online or physical. We want to get instructors from India to explain how you have been able to overcome some of the challenges in public service transformation.”
Urging the country to leverage the business-friendly environment and other incentives provided by his administration, the governor further stated, “Edo is perhaps the best located state in this country; a junction state with a lot of traffic around us-so we have markets. Also, all the major national assets traverse Edo State - road, electricity and gas networks among others.
“Edo is the cradle of culture in perhaps West Africa and with the return of artefacts, we are creating a cultural district that when people visit, there is something for them to see and we expect to attract a lot of tourist interests. So, we would like to work with you.
“We have about 19 million square kilometers of land spread from swamp to rainforest and savannah. So, we have a land suitable for a wide variety of crops and some of our produce are unique to the tropics like oil palm. We are designing transactions with partners to regain our position in the oil palm industry globally.”
He added, “Another advantage Edo State has is that we have the largest onshore gas reserve in Nigeria. With these opportunities, we are hoping that we will be able to collaborate with you in areas of co-interests and concrete mutual cooperation.”
Earlier, the Indian Consul General, Mr. Chandramouli Kern, while commending the governor’s sustained investment in the state, noted that Edo State is taking a similar development roadmap like India, especially in areas of education reforms, human capacity building, industrialization, health insurance and skills development.