Propagating Human Capital Development in Edo

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Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that as the year wraps up, Governor Godwin Obaseki’s

achievement in human capital development in Edo State echoes

Human capital development is incontrovertibly germane to the realisation of sustainable
economic growth and development in any society. Human beings all over the world are identified as the most important and promising source of productivity and economic burgeoning, hence no economy develops without skilled and sturdy human resources to drive that growth.

According to a 2017 World Bank report, of all the generally agreed contributory reasons accountable for the notable growth in economies of most developed countries is an impressive commitment to human capital formation. Noteworthy is the reality that equipment and technology are products of human minds and can only be made productive by people. Therefore, the success of any productive programme and policy, depends on human innovative ideas and creativity. In the absence of substantial investment in the development of human capital in any country or state, sustained economic growth and development would only be
a mere wish, never a reality.

Leaders all over the world with an undaunted interest to make the desired change in state’s polity must identify with and leverage on human capital as an important tool in converting all resources to mankind’s use and benefit, since it has the capacity to sustain the envisioned positive growth trajectory.

On the list of key indicators to rate human capital development are education, infrastructure and health. It is therefore disheartening to know that many states in Nigeria are yet to make a giant leap or record successes in these areas.

The outcome of this failure is the growing unemployed and unemployable graduate list; intensifying hunger and poverty rate; unbridled crimes, insecurity and youth restiveness; declining health sector with many Nigerians seeking medical attention abroad, while indigenous practitioners are hastily moving abroad at the slightest opportunity; amid other
hullabaloo that have stunted the country’s growth.

While this is a problem in almost all parts of the country despite the imminent huge natural and human resources, leaders come and go with many barely making an impact on the lives of the ordinary people. But the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki is already rewriting the history with his investments, policies and transformational reforms. In the last three years since his emergence, Governor Obaseki has journeyed on a steady path to growing a proactive, progressive and productive state. This, he is doing by hugely investing in Edo people, who are the machinery to propel the desired growth and development, repositioning the state into an Eldorado.

So far, Edo State has recorded massive improvements in social welfare, economic growth, governance and infrastructure projects, which are spread across basic education, primary health care reforms, health insurance, sporting infrastructure, urban renewal, security and industrialisation, civil service and judicial reforms, job creation, among others.

In fact, the governor has done far much more for Edo people, ensuring that workers are not just promptly paid and pensioners well taken care of, but also that the work environment is remodelled for efficiency; roads are constructed and maintained, and new physical infrastructure projects are completed. Basic and technical education is re-enacted
to improve learning outcomes; primary healthcare is made more responsive and accessible across the state; affordable housing is catered for, among a long list of other key achievements that cut across different spheres of the state’s
socio-economic landscape.

Barely two months after he was awarded the ‘2019 Best Performing Governor’ by Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in recognition of his efforts in improving basic education and teachers’ welfare in the state, Governor Obaseki has awarded ‘Pacesetter in Education and Human Development’, also in recognition of his strides in education and human capital
development.

The governor through his highly successful Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) programme is readily transforming and revitalising the state’s education sector. Reforms in the basic education sector have led to increased enrolment in public primary schools, where pupils now learn three times more than they used to learn in
the old system.

Interestingly, a lot of states within the country including Lagos are coming to
learn from Edo State’s success story. At the same time, the state also received foreign delegation from Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, among others, who have come to understudy the Edo-BEST programme. Among other awards that have continued to flooded the governor’s tenure, he has gotten accolades from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Bank, the Finnish Embassy, among others, on the impact of the reforms in schools.

The governor’s choice of mental infrastructure over stomach infrastructure is one that is commendable and has endeared majority of the people to him, while selfish political jobbers who have been denied access to the state’s treasury make futile attempts to make Edo State unpeaceful and ungovernable.

While receiving the best governor’s award at a very colourful ceremony in Abuja, Obaseki said, “The country should know that what is important today is mental infrastructure. We are
pursuing intellectual infrastructure, not stomach infrastructure. It is intellectual infrastructure that will build stomach infrastructure. So that is the direction we must go by emphasising development of human capacity.”

He continued, “for us as a government, we decided to dedicate ourselves to not just building classes but to go to the foundation of education. The fact is that if a teacher is not in class, a child will not learn. If the teacher does not know what to teach the child, there will be no learning. And you have got to think of education strategically to realise that
what is most important is the foundation.

“When you don’t make the right investment and commitment to the foundation of education, that is, basic education, children will not learn. If you are not able to add sums and pronounce alphabets, you cannot write and you cannot think logically. So, what we have done in Edo
in the last one and a half years is to first prioritise basic education and technical education”, he added.

The Obaseki-led administration’s unwavering commitment to driving
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is second to none. The
state government recently completed two blocks of buildings consisting of classrooms
and laboratories at the Government Science and Technical College (GSTC). Over 100 well-trained teachers have been employed to teach at the school.

The government has also performed the groundbreaking for the revamped Edo State College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Iguoriakhi. The college is to now run a tripartite campus system with the administrative headquarters in Iguoriakhi, which houses the School of
Agricultural Engineering and Technology, while the School of Forestry and Environmental Technology will be in Irrua and the School of Aquaculture and Marine Technology in Agenebode.

At the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Obaseki has resolved to redefine the face
of tertiary education, ensuring that the varsity continues to set the pace among its peers in the country.

One of the key areas Obaseki is making progress despite inhibiting factors in the local business environment is in spurring industrialisation, which has the potential to unlock economic growth, provide employment and boost productivity.

Already, the state is on course for legacy projects, such as the Benin River Port and the Benin Enterprise and Industrial Park, after successfully piloting the Benin Production Centre in the Sapele Road axis of Benin City, as part of multi-pronged strategy to drive industrialisation in the state.

The Benin Production Centre hosts hundreds of artisans and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) operators, who are provided with a serene work environment and access to shared infrastructure, 24-hour electricity, security, water supply, internet, access to low-cost loans.

As part of efforts to build capacity to generate and distribute electricity within the state, Obaseki signed a Power Purchase Agreement with CCETC Ossiomo Power to power government offices, streetlights, public utilities and the industrial cluster at the Sapele Road axis of the state, after the successful Azura-Edo power plant project, which is servicing the National Grid.

There’s no denying the place of quality healthcare in assessing human development, as humans have to be first of all, hale and hearty to engage in any meaningful socio-economic activity.
This, over time, underpin governments’ prioritisation of healthcare as an integral part of development planning.

The governor is deploying a reformist approach aimed at transforming the state’s healthcare sector. The series of interventions is anchored under the Edo Healthcare Improvement Programme (Edo-HIP), which has kicked off with the rebuilding of 20 Primary Healthcare Centers across the state’s 18 local government areas.

Governor Obaseki on October 31, launched the Edo State Social Health Insurance/Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) as well as revamped Primary Healthcare Centers under the Edo- Primary Health Improvement Programme. The state had made an initial contribution of N100m to access the BHCPF, opening up opportunities to energise its health insurance programme.

Currently, in Edo State, all that is been heard are the echoes of Obaseki’s milestone achievements in human capital development, which are tied up to an organic whole of a systemic plan to better the lives of ordinary Edo people. Governor Obaseki is not just an exemplar but an enabler of good governance.