… recommits to youth devt
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his administration has restored the hope of youths and the dignity of Edo citizens through life-transforming reforms and programmes implemented by his administration in the past six years.
Obaseki stated this when he received delegates from the National Defence College on Course 31 Tour of Edo State, with the theme, “Building socio-economic resilience in contemporary security environment: Edo State in perspective.”
The team were led by the Director of Academic Research and Analytical Support of the National Defence College, Abuja, Commodore Aniefiok Uko, on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Benin City.
The governor, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq., said the state has focused on human capacity development, empowering the youths to be globally competitive and realize their fullest potential.
He said, “Edo State is a home to everyone due to its unique location. You have everybody in Nigeria here in Edo and somehow, we have been able to live together. There have been no ethnic crises in this state but if we do not have youths that are engaged, there will become security problems.
“What brought us into politics is the drive to restore order in the state. We came into government in a lawless state. There was a breakdown of the education system; many youths were out of school and everything was about migration to Europe. If you can't migrate to Europe, you turn yourself into a thug. The city was divided among warlords who collect levies from parks and drivers into their pockets.
“We had to make a choice to either build only bridges and flyovers or build our people and we decided to put our resources to build our people. So, we were not surprised when the report on the National Poverty Index came out and we were there at the top because even before COVID-19, we had started identifying vulnerable people who cannot feed and the government was making provisions for them.”
Obaseki continued: “When we came to office, the first week, we banned all illegal levies and taxes and stopped non-government actors from revenue collection. This was necessary because without doing that, we cannot move forward.
“We felt the educational system had to be rebuilt because at that time, Edo state was notorious for human trafficking that gave the country a very bad name. We decided to fix what went wrong and started to sensitize our people that they can migrate but as skilled workers-doctors, trained nurses, etc. So, we revolutionised our basic education system by introducing the EdoBEST programme. Today, any child that graduates from our primary school, even if the child decides not to go further, he can read and write and pursue any skill he wants to.”
“We went on to reform our technical education system, starting with the Benin Technical College which had been run down. We decided to rebuild that school. We didn't know that COVID-19 and the EndSARS saga would come but the governor kept saying that unless we get the youths busy, they will overrun us one day.
"So, to engage the youths, we set up the Edo State Public Works Volunteer (PUWOV) who go into the streets to help us with any public works and it helped take a lot of them out of the streets.
“We also set up the vigilante network to engage the youths and also boost our security architecture; a move that has received national accolades.”
On other impact areas, the governor said, “Electricity is key and if there is electricity today in Edo, many of these youths will be engaged. So, we partnered with Ossiomo Power Company in this regard. We paid in advance to encourage the investor and assured them of market availability, with the plan to build some production centers where our youths can go into production. Today, we have 24hrs power and young boys and girls who were formerly in the streets now have their own companies and are off the streets.
“We also knew that for us to export people that the international community will respect, we need to train them. We had to revamp the School of Nursing Sciences that had been run down. We closed it, got a Nigerian consultant in the United States to help us build a world-class school of nursing and today, we have a world-class school of nursing in Edo State.
“We also built the tech hub, equipped it with facilities and put young men and women who from here work for companies in the United States and Europe via technology. We also have the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub to help our people exhibit their talent, record films and make money. Even DSTV and ROK Studios have shot over 20 movies there.”
He added, “There might not be skyscrapers but with the traffic in the state, you will know that we have done a lot even across all sectors of the state’s economy.”
On his part, Commodore Aniefiok Uko noted, “Many people are coming into Edo State because certainly there is a success story here. That is why we all want to come and learn, interrogate and draw lessons so that we can also better other aspects of the nation that are not doing so well.”