As part of efforts to drive a people-focused governance, the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has established a direct communication channel between his office and the people of the state through the Talk to Governor Godwin Obaseki initiative, writes Ugo Aliogo
“This initiative is one of its kinds. A governor sending out people to know the problems that exist in our areas for them to be able to proffer solutions is laudable. I am happy that work has started. We made mention of Giwa Amu around that airport in Oredo Local Government Area and it’s been done already. Kudos to Edo State Government, for involving us in the budget process and bringing governance closer to the people.”
These are the words of Kingsley Agho, a university graduate based in Edo State. Since his childhood days, one of his dreams has been to enjoy the dividends of good governance such as provision of basic social amenities and inclusive governance that carry the citizens along in the budget process. But over the years, Agho dreams became a mirage due to failed infrastructure and poor governance. He grew to see bread disappear from the breakfast table and food became rationed. He was born under a repressive military regime where workers were not paid their salaries and universities embarked on incessant strikes.
Every day he woke up, he perceived the pungent smell of helplessness and deprivation. Today, his story has taken a positive twist with the implementation of the Talk to Governor Godwin Obaseki (Talk GGO), an initiative of the Edo State Government. This initiative is being implemented in accordance with recommendations of stakeholders at the recently concluded Edo State Economic Summit Alaghodaro 2017. The initiative was inaugurated November 13 and the state government has begun its implementation of the outcomes of the summit through this initiative.
The Talk to GGO initiative is geared towards bringing development closer to the people in the state by establishing direct communication lines between the state government and its citizens. To this end therefore, the government has employed, trained and equipped over 450 youths who would visit all residents of the state with the aim of collecting information vital to the economic development of the state, beginning with the Oredo, Ikpoba Okha, and Egor Local Government Areas.
The Talk to GGO representatives are charged with the duty of collating information pertaining to the state of infrastructure across the entire state, number of households their needs, health, educational facilities and feedback. The collated data will give an adequate representation of the infrastructural and economic landscape in the state and further help influence government policy.
The state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Hon. Edorodion Erimona, noted that the state government is constantly thinking of ways to directly engage with its residents and stakeholders so that they can understand the best ways to implement government policies.
He also noted that the initiative is for the benefit of all, adding that it would help the administration to update its records and obtain inputs from the citizens as they begin to implement their plans for 2018.
Erimona also stated that the response they have received from the people of the state has been amazing, “the people spoke, we responded, and now they are encouraged to speak even louder.”
He further stressed that governance is all about participation and that without the people, there cannot be government. Therefore, he urged the people to keep up the good work by informing their families and friends to participate in the initiative.
The framework of the initiative is one which provides an understanding to the building of proper infrastructural planning data, building healthcare and educational systems, policy making institutions and its benefits to entrepreneurs and business concerns in the state.
Another member of the Governor Obaseki-led administration who has thrown his weight behind the initiative is the Commissioner for Information, Hon. Paul Ohombamu. On his part, he remarked that the length of time between the recommendation and implementation of the initiative showed the determination and willingness of the government to deliver on its campaign promises within the shortest time possible.
He said: “The state government is attentive to the needs of its people, and therefore the public should speak up and let the governor know what they are thinking. The public also needs to participate actively in the project. They can participate in whatever way they feel comfortable either by speaking to the Talk to GGO representatives or through the www.talktoggo.com website.”
According to a reliable source, it was gathered that the data collation began from Oredo, Egor and Ikpoba Okha Local Government Areas and would spread to other local governments in the state.
The source also affirmed that stakeholders and citizens in the Diaspora can also partake in the initiative by reaching the governor through social media platforms, including the official “Talk to GGO” website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
The source further stated that feedback from the initiative and recommendations from the Alaghodaro 2017 summit prompted the recently commenced agriculture empowerment initiative, the revamping of the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, and the $150 billion Shobe Farm project, which is expected to create more than 85,000 jobs.
It was also revealed that the state government has reacted positively to the active involvement of its citizens in the recently concluded budget process through the Talk to GGO portal.
It added: “The initiative which provides a direct line of communication between Edo State citizens and the state government has seen an unprecedented surge in feedback from the residents; demonstrating their willingness to partner with the government in the development of their state.
“The initiative is one of the recommendations from stakeholders at the recent economic summit held in the state. The initiative will help the government plan effectively for the year 2018. It is an initiative aimed at bringing development to the state through the active participation of citizens in the budget process. Research has been done and it has showed that the initiative is workable.
“In the area of employment generation, the government has employed over 450 youths through this initiative. It is expected that the initiative will encourage active citizenship participation in governance, and involvement of citizens in budget process.
“Public support is needed to help make the initiative a success. When people are aware of the benefits this initiative can bring, it will be easier for them to talk to the group of young people that will be sent out to collect this information.”
Commending the initiative, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Basic Education, Dr. Joan Oviawe, commended the state government for the initiative and identified her ministry as a key beneficiary.
She stated that through the initiative they have been able to listen to students and identify some key weaknesses in the administration of some of schools, especially in the rural areas, stressing that with this information, they have included the recommendations of these students into “our plans for 2018 and would implement a gradual capacity enhancement programme for our teachers beginning early next year.”
She therefore encouraged residents to actively participate in the initiative and engage with the government on whatever issues they face.