By Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Segun James
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has alluded to his insistence on fighting inherent corruption in the system as the major cause of challenges experienced by his governmemt.
Speaking to a teeming audience of Edo indigenes at a Town Hall meeting in Lagos on Sunday, Obaseki said, “This is why I am having problems. A situation where I refuse to build one kilometre of road for over $3 million is not acceptable, when I can build three roads for that amount. Then they accuse me of bringing contractors from Lagos. That is not true. The truth is that in Edo, under my administration my road contracts are priced such that the profit is very good, but not outrageous. My profit margins are tight. I do not have contracts that you collect and then sell to another person.
If you are not the one building the road yourself, you can’t collect contract from me. That is why they are fighting me. The boys who are executing the contracts have always been in the system, but they did not have political access. I have not hired any new contractor since I came to office. All the contracts are executed by Edo indigenes. They are the same ones I met on ground, but we have reviewed the way we relate with them because there is no money to throw around. We have interrogated the system That is the difference.”
Obaseki opined that the problem of Edo State was not with resources, but leadership. He explained thus, “Successive governments have been shortsighted. The military governors did not know when the next coup will be and the politicians only think of the next election, but by the grace of God, I am not thinking of the next election because that is already a done deal. That is why I am planning. There was no planning. I did not meet anything on ground. We can’t succeed if we do not plan. We are putting in place rigorous regional and urban planning, such that any other government that comes will be tasked by the people who will ask questions about the projects that are supposed to be sited in particular communities. The last development plan for Edo was in 1975. There has been no coordinated development for Edo since then. We are trying to put in place a development plan that will take Edo to 2050 mainly anchored on the Benin River Port and the Industrial Park which is sitting on a gas field. “
The event which was organised by the Unuedo Renaissance led by Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere was attended by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Phillip Shaibu, Senator Domingo Obende, and Senator Daisy Danjuma, a Board of Trustee member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who said though she was not denouncing her political party, but called on all Edo indigenes to support Obaseki for a second term in office.
A very confident Obaseki, said that “the people are the greatest assets that is why we’re focusing on qualitative education for young people who have lost confidence in the system, that is why they risk their lives going across the Sahara desert to find greener pastures in Europe. “We cannot continue to let them risk their lives for nothing,” he stressed.
He said that beginning from next year, the two cement plants which will also utilize the natural gas will commence operation with 6,000,000 metric tones capacities
The Governor said that in the state, it was no longer business as usual, as that system which has led to stagnant development indices in the last 30 years. “We are focused,” he said.
According to him, until he put a stop to it, people treat public funds as means to get rich at the expense of the people, this he insisted was the reaason for the anarchy and insecurity in the state.