By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State yesterday declared that the current agitation for referendum and restructuring of the country was a result of wastage in governance, adding that neither restructuring nor referendum would solve the nation’s myriad of problems.
Obaseki who stated this as Guest Lecturer at the 5thAnnual Correspondents’ Chapel Lecture series of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State council with the theme: “New Opportunities and New Initiatives for Development” held in Benin, the state capital stressed that the countryâ€™s over-dependence on oil for growth and development could no longer sustain the quest by citizens, hence the call for restructuring.
He said the only solution apart from diversifying the economy of the nation from oil, was for government at all levels to cut cost, asserting that the long convoys being used by government officials were unnecessary as part of the problems militating against the nationâ€™s economic growth.
According to him, â€œdwindling oil revenue is now the order of the day. And for us to continue our socio-economic development, the paradigm must change from what we inherited from the civil war. So the bulk of the agitations we are seeing today, whether threats of war, call for restructuring, secession, are results of the evolution of our socio-economic process. Because Nigeria was not always run this way.
â€œAs children in the 60s there were regions and the regions did not go to the center to sustain themselves. The regions were self-financing, infact some of the regions has their own offices in London at that time and they were able to deal independently with the colonial administration. so Nigeria never started this way, it was the unfortunate incident of the civil war and the role of oil after the civil the war that forced us on this condition we found ourselves today.
â€œSuch that Local Governments are legislated, states are legislated and at the end of every month, these organs or these entities that has now been legislated not as a result of the genuine desire of the people. Like the case of Midwest where we had to go through a referendum to decide to be a region. These entities were at all time being sustained by revenues from oil but today that oil is not enough to sustain these entities. So the question now is how do we proceed?â€
He added however that the â€œchallenge is not insurmountable, the challenge is not about dismantling Nigeria, because if you dismantle Nigeria into various parts, the same problem will follow them. The answer is to sit down and say let us be realistic to ourselves. Let us understand that the way we are running the country today by making it so dependent on one source of revenue is no longer sustainable and therefore we must diversify the economy and its politics.
â€œWe must stop wastages, how can government officials be moving with over twenty convoys, what for? These are some of the wastages. I promised a future of economic foresight which will be shaped by the willingness to do the necessary things that will lead us into a new and rapid age of development.
â€œTherefore the new initiatives in development in Edo state are woven around the cardinal programmes of my governance which is the essence of my topic. It is broken into six core areas, infrastructural development, environmental sustainability, culture and tourism, economic revolution, social welfare enhancement and institutional reform.
â€œI decided to take the mantle of leadership from Comrade Oshiomhole in order to continue on the development trajectory which we commenced in 2007. Today every expense of government passes through the oracle, we have blocked wastages and I can tell you that we are on course in Edo stateâ€ he declared.
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman of the occasion, Captain HosaÂ Okunbor, urged other governors in the country to emulate the economic blue prints of the Obaseki administration in the state due to the prevailing recession.
Captain Okunbo who was represented by Mr. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, a former PDP aspirant during last year governorship election in Edo, also called on political leaders to support the Obaseki led administration in the state for the benefit of the people.