In 1999, when the fourth republic began, the expectations from our people in Nigeria and Edo state in particular were great. They saw the return of democracy as an avenue of realizing their dreams. A system where they can now have a say on whom govern them based on the manifestos he or she that seek to govern bring before them. According to Abraham Lincoln, democracy he said is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Despite all the enthusiasms, aspirations and hopes in welcoming democracy, the fears and worries that hitherto befall us prior to 1999 are still, not only prevalent but also, are threatening the future of our dear nation Nigeria and its people. Government after government have come and gone in this last sixteen years of our fledgling democracy with lots of promises and hope which numerous of it were never kept.
In 1999, when it became clearer that the military were actually ready to hand over power to civilians, it was to Edo people a moment of joy where a son of the soil can now hold sway for us as governor Someone who knows the culture, political terrain and the pains of our people. Unlike the way the military posted governors who were not from the state or have never been to Edo state but, mostly rode on sentiments and advice from persons in the state to govern and most times have become counterproductive as those persons sometimes use the avenue to give unholy advice against genuine interest just to settle perceived political scores.
This yearning for a better life and good governance was what threw up chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion whom was seen at that time as fit for the job having distinguished himself as an executive chairman of Oredo Local Government council both in human capital development and infrastructural wise. But, surprisingly the much the people expected from him was a far cry from what he was able to offer them despite occupying the seat for eight years as governor of our dear state.
In the early life of his administration he was reported to have been doing fantastically well with his thought out plan of industrializing the state. He complained about creating jobs which was to him beyond the state government as the civil service he said, cannot accommodate every job seeker hence, the need to build industries. How far reaching this dream was realized is still with a question mark.
While he struggled with building industries the road infrastructure, schools, hospitals and very many other sector of the state economy witnessed a down slide and deteriorated and could best be described as been put in perilous squalor. Even the jobs that were the primary reason for the building of the industries which never saw the light of day became a mirage.
At the time comrade governor took over from the professor of law, whose tenure was short lived by the court of appeal judgment, the condition of Edo state at that time can best be described as crippled and in chains which needed a miracle worker to rescue it.
Whether good or bad the comrade governor has tried in his capacity to make an impact in rescuing the state from the chains of underdevelopment, bad leadership and from the grip of godfathers. No doubt the state has witnessed a growth and turn around in the area of roads, education, health and environment infrastructure. This singular act has no doubt rekindled the belief and hope that Edo can indeed work. This is not to say that all have been done as so much is still required to be achieved to create an economy that can generate jobs and sustain infrastructural growth and development.
Now that the comrade governor is winding up to leave the stage as governor, it is very imperative not to also wind back the hand of clock by reversing the progress that has been recorded in the last seven years. At this stage we need a man or even a woman who can put in place a structure that can sustain the pace of the ongoing development in the state or even fast track it. Create jobs, engage our youths in productive ventures and understand the reality of the nation’s economy that hitherto relied on by states to fund their budgets cannot even today provide allocation that can cater for salaries.
Having read and listen to the various campaign promises by the different aspirants who are seeking to govern Edo state after the comrade governor, it is worthy of note to also understand from them how they intend to achieve all they are promising, most especially, when the economy of the country is facing daunting challenges with the price of crude oil in a continuous slide and today less than $30 per barrel. Gone are the days governors depend on Abuja allocation to fund their government as what is in view since the last few months to date has been on the down trend and the hopes of allocations from Abuja increasing in the near months is quite not in sight.
For Godwin Obaseki, whose name has in recent time been in songs across the state political theater, has put forward a clear and well articulated plan giving an insight into what he intend to do with the state and how he intends to achieve it.
Recently, during a tour of the LGAs to familiarize himself with delegates of his party APC, he has raised concerns about the declining price in crude oil which is the main stay of Nigeria economy hence, a threat to the economy and sustainable growth. According to him, Edo state today though not yet at its destination which it was projected to be in the last seven years have no doubt also recorded a major milestone in the developmental indices. He has said that there is a strategic plan that was put together by a crop of technocrats which he was a part and leader of. According to him the strategic plan has a frame work which is aimed at transforming the economy of the state.
The frame work is targeted to cater for the people’s basic need which includes water, health and education. The second is the infrastructure of the state which includes power, housing, tourism, transport, roads and drainage and lastly production level of the state that can help generate jobs by focusing on agriculture, industry and commerce.
To achieve all these he said, is a roadmap with a period spanning from 2010 – 2020 which have been stratified into phases. According to him phase 1 has a strategic plan, spanning through 2010 – 2012 with a focus on short term policy priorities that will provide the basic needs of the people which includes providing road infrastructures, building of schools, providing health facilities, construction of drainages, transportation and power. Which to a large extent have been achieved by the administration of comrade governor where he is the chief economic adviser to the governor and the chairman of the economic and strategy team of the state.
The phase 2 where the state is presently at, is with a strategic plan span from 2013 – 2016 which represent medium term policy priorities that focus on education with emphasis on content and context of schools renew focus on technical education and vocational studies; broadening of skills acquisition with emphasis on middle level technology. This phase he said, will improve on the infrastructure by laying emphasis on completing the ongoing projects and developing new essential infrastructures to drive economic growth and also attract private participation in infrastructure development.
The third phase which represent mid-term policy priority is health; with emphasis on promoting accessibility to affordable and quality health care services. He also added that in this phase agricultural development as a catalyst for economic growth will trigger food production and employment through large scale commercial agriculture. The last as mentioned by him in this phase is industrialization through the utilization of the electricity that will be generated by Azura power plant which he helped to influenced to Edo state and now under construction in Uhunwode LGA. No doubt Edo state will be in first line charge to benefit from the power that will be generated by the plant which will help to promote and encourage large, medium and small scale industries for job creation.
The phase three he said is a phase that was planned for a span of a period within 2017 – 2020 with focus on long term policy priorities. From what he has enumerated and what one can find on ground as at today, considering the plans and the targeted time to achieving them, it will not be out of place to say that 50% of the plans have been achieved. Due to unforeseen circumstances of having to have elections at every after two years in the state, the pace of work has have to slow down due to the distractions that comes with it.
With the plan still been implemented which he remains the best man to continue its implementation having not only been a member of the think tank that puts the plans together he was also the leader or the chairman of the team as the case may be.
Considering also now that the main stay of the nation’s economy (crude oil) price is in crisis, the state right now needs a leadership that understand the strategic plan and the ingenuity to think outside the box of waiting for revenue from Abuja to run government and look inward to use the resources that is inherent and residual in our communities, harnessed them and use it to develop the people and the community.
This indeed will be an onerous task that requires a patriotic, intelligent and a dedicated chief executive to be able to achieve all these. I have heard him said that his three point’s agenda is job, job, and job creation. This he has assured will be possible through industrialization and agricultural revolution. This no doubt is an audacious hope which our people whom has the power to choose who govern them cannot wait any longer to behold in reality.
ENDURANCE IHONGBE OBOITE
A public commentator writes from Ekpoma.