The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state government will continue to make investment in preserving the health, safety and environment of Edo people as the state marks its 30th anniversary.
Obaseki said this during the flag-off a tree-planting campaign held at Idu village in Orhionmwon Local Government Forest Reserve, as part of activities to mark the 30th anniversary of Edo State. The tree-planting campaign is in line with the government’s reforestation initiative of planting ten million trees in the next ten years.
According to him, “As we celebrate 30 years of the existence of Edo as a State, we must realize that we live in a world that is being ravaged by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We have lost loved ones: friends and family. Even as we celebrate our glorious nation and our proud heritage, circumstances demand that we must summon all effort, as a people, to ensure that we protect ourselves against the deadly scourge.
“Considering the nature of this unusual enemy, we must quickly adopt a sustainable approach to effectively deal with this scourge along with the disruptions associated with it. That is why to defeat the virus, vaccination is a necessity.
“Those countries and communities with high rates of vaccination are recording fewer hospitalizations and lifting all restrictions. We have to be at the forefront of ensuring that we all get inoculated against COVID-19 so that we can build herd immunity and more lives will not be lost needlessly.”
He continued: “As we protect ourselves from the pandemic, we must also take cognizance of our environment. Environmental sustainability is key to our cultural and economic preservation. The rich forest reserves that our ancestors passed to us have been seriously degraded and depleted, leading to adverse weather conditions that threaten our existence as a people.
“Edo has always been known as the centre of the rainforest belt in Nigeria and West Africa and we have a responsibility to regenerate our forests. It is for this reason that we, collaborating with private stakeholders, have embarked on a reforestation program to have ten million trees planted in Edo State, over the next decade. We must balance environmental sustainability with livelihoods and strategically reclaim our expansive forest lands for present and future generations.
“As we celebrate Edo at 30 today, our emphasis and focus must be on environmental sustainability. In the post-fossil fuel era, we must strive to redevelop our natural resources in forestry and its value chain. That is why I will be planting trees as a significant step in leading our forestry regeneration goal of ten million trees in the next ten years.
“Along with our forest regeneration drive, we also want to keep our forests and our land safe. With your support and collaboration of security agencies in the state, we will be re-establishing a forestry protection force to ensure that bandits cannot use our forest as basis to foster criminality,” the governor noted.
Reassuring the government’s commitment to the security of lives and property of Edo citizens, Obaseki stated: “We are determined to improve on the feat recorded so far in terms of security in the state and ensure that kidnapping, armed robbery, land grabbing and other criminal activities are reduced to the barest minimum.
“Our security strategy is hinged on collaboration between the national security structure and the Edo State Community Vigilante Security Network so that community participation is a key driver in our security plan.”
He further added: “Our mission to Make Edo Great Again (MEGA) will only be a pipe dream without rethinking the methods that got us to this point and recalibrating existing systems to address our peculiar challenges, in the quest to compete and dominate in a fast-changing world. To achieve our mission of MEGA comprehensively, we must involve our kit and kin in Delta State.
“We are therefore commencing discussions to establish a Bendel Commission to foster mutual cooperation and collaboration in economic, security, cultural and environmental matters between Edo and Delta States.”
“I invite all Edo people to join in celebrating this 30-year milestone, as we have all shown resilience, courage, strength and determination in building a strong and virile state, even as we look forward to the next 30 years of growth and shared prosperity,” the governor charged.
Sharing a brief history of the origin of the Edo people, Obaseki said “the Edo Nation has always been renowned as pacesetters: The old Midwestern Region, from where Bendel State was formed, was the first state in Nigeria to be created by a referendum, signaling how strongly we have always sought self-actualization, self-preservation and embraced democratic ideals.
“As a people, we come from forebears who displayed exceptional sophistication in Arts, organization and development. This enthralled the Europeans when their ships berthed on our shores as far back as the fifteenth century. By this time, we had built an architectural marvel with the largest earthwork in human history, with city walls four times the length of the renowned Great Walls of China; traces of which are evident today in what is popularly known as the Benin Moat.”
According to him, “the world was awed by the splendour of Benin City, which by the 15th century had palm-oil-lit street lights which illuminated its very broad streets, some over a hundred feet wide, with underground channels to drain stormwater and check flooding.
This is not to mention our elaborate governance and judicial systems, with courts and enforceable penal laws.
“With this deep history and heritage, we have survived the ages and our people have continued making indelible marks globally. The spirit and blood of our ancestors run deep in us. This strong sense of identity has led us to rise above our challenges in our quest for sustainable development, growth and progress; today, we celebrate yet another milestone.
“Throughout our history, the key driver of our prowess has been our human capacity. It cannot be different today. That is why we are emphasizing education as the fulcrum for our development. The Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) programme is globally recognised as one of the most significant Education reforms programme in Africa today.
“We are repositioning our civil and public service to provide world-class service to Edo people at home and abroad. We have continued to invest in our youth through various programs spearheaded by the Edo Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs), which has given birth to numerous enterprises in the Edo Production Centres, Edo Tech Hub and Edo Creative Hub.
“The next few decades will witness Edo State becoming the Technology Hub in Nigeria as we create more partnerships to train and develop thousands of young people into competent software developers and Tech solutions providers.”
“Although some of the challenges that beset us today may differ from those of our forebears, but like them, our ability to make deliberate, concerted and sustained efforts to overcome adversity is very much assured. In the face of difficulty, we will remain bold, decisive and united, as these values have always guaranteed our survival, advancement and triumph,” he noted.