Obaseki: My Election a Battle Between Light and Darkness

Governor Godwin Obaseki

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, recently spoke to some select journalists about his re election bid and agenda, if elected for another four years. He, however, described the September 19 election as one between light and darkness. Chuks Okocha presents the excerpts:

You are seeking reelection, but why should the people of Edo state reelect you for another four years?
In my quest for the office of Governor of Edo State, I stated in my 2016 manifesto and the Policy Document on Edo State Development Roadmap and Work plan that my mission is to achieve prosperity for our people, because the pursuit of happiness and working for the common good is an all-inclusive process – the urging, “let’s go further, together” has been the redolent mantra, which has foregrounded our journey.

I have faith in the principles of democracy and share the values of my Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to build a qualitatively better society based on commonwealth, human rights and social justice under the rule of law. As a political party founded on justice, equity and fair play, PDP’s Social Contract is the Covenant with the people of Nigeria.

I identify fully with its commitment to democracy and good governance, freedom, human rights and human dignity, justice, equity, popular participation, inclusiveness and the rule of law. Its respect for integrity, transparency and accountability in the conduct of public affairs and sustainable development through the creation of an enabling environment for a private sector-led economic development endears it to me.

As I seek the renewal of my mandate under the umbrella, the need to march into a future of economic foresight sharpened by a willingness to do the necessary things that will bring us into a new age of rapid development, presses harder. It is a pact with destiny, the embracing of the future by our progressive actions in today’s world set for the fourth Industrial Revolution.
I reaffirm my willingness, and desire, to serve for four more years, using my knowledge and wealth of experience for the progress and development of our dear state. Our people remain our strength, because there cannot be any meaningful development without their inclusion and active participation.

So, what are your programmes as governor, if reelected?
Six major plinths have held the pillars of my governance model. They are Economic Revolution, Infrastructure development, Institutional Reforms, Social Welfare Enhancement, Environmental Sustainability, and Arts, Culture and Tourism. This time around, the commitment and focus of my team and I is a 12-point Agenda crystallised into a MEGA Manifesto as our blueprint for Making Edo Great Again.

It is a development-oriented programme of progress for Edo State with an eye on the future, and focuses on these key areas: Social Sector (Education, Healthcare System, Pension and Social Security, Housing, Lands and Surveys), Critical Infrastructure and Energy, Economy and Industralisation, Trade and Investment, Environment and Public Utilities, Peace and Security, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Public Service, Public Finance and Public Revenue, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, Law, Judiciary and Legal Reforms, Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Arts and Culture as well as Transport. My Vision and Mission statements: A modern and progressive Edo State where every citizen is empowered with opportunity to live life in its fullness and my Mission is to achieve economic prosperity for Edo State.

What then is the difference between what you have just said and the mega manifesto?
This mega manifesto, therefore, is my public declaration of policy for the progress and sustainable development of Edo State. I am confident that my re-election for a second-term as the Executive Governor of Edo State from 2020 to 2024 will consolidate the transformation of the State through policies, projects and initiatives aimed at making Edo State an investment hub. This policy document is my present declaration to consolidate the foundation of my first term as governor from 2016 to 2020 in providing leadership and vision for engagement and consensus building in planning, executing and evaluating state development initiatives and their outcomes.

We would ultimately create a system that would, at the end of eight years, imbue a strong, indelible governance culture that will stand the test of time and make our people proud of their state once more. In the last four years, we developed a fast-track approach in transforming Edo State through a robust template anchored on critical focus areas that outlined how we would make the lives of our people better and more fulfilling.

What are the point-by-point details of this mega manifesto?
They are social sector. Education. To ensure that the Edo BEST policy continues to concentrate on training and retraining of teachers in equipping them for effective learning management systems, which addresses the needs of our children from early childhood up to the Junior Secondary School level.

To continuously provide and maintain existing facilities for enhanced teaching and learning in our educational institutions. To continuously encourage science and technology education, including information and communication technology and entrepreneurship, to continue to provide the enabling environment for cutting-edge innovations and technology.

To build more technical colleges, and develop and promote technical vocational education to create skills for the emerging Edo State trade and industry and to continuously encourage private sector investment in education at all levels, and the standards for enhanced quality will be maintained by government’s policy. On the healthcare system, we will provide world-class medical services infrastructure to make Edo state a medical tourism destination; to continuously improve and expand access to basic primary healthcare, consolidate on quality and affordable healthcare for all Edo citizens through Edo State.

The Health Insurance Scheme (EHIS), pension and Social Security, we will embark on and to continuously alleviate the plight of pensioners through prompt payment of pension, retirement benefits and gratuities.
We will also ensure a sustenance of the existing prompt data capturing of retirees into the pension group, strengthening the existing contributory pension scheme and guaranteeing quick/immediate payment after disengagement from the Edo State civil service and promoting and sustaining the social welfare of our retirees through social intervention as senior citizens of the state and sustaining the on-going special interventions to support the vulnerable groups; people with physical disabilities and special needs in the society.

On Housing, Lands and Survey, we shall ensure the development of industrial park, logistic park, housing estate, leisure centres across the three (3) Senatorial districts of Edo state as well as the development of affordable modern housing and increasing access to financing and promoting a residential mortgage market in Edo State.

Also, my administration will ensure a sustaining and improving the on-going digitalisation in the use of land (EDO’GIS) and proper mapping and survey of community lands to forestall conflicts between communities.

In line with the vision to ensure sustainability of our priced hard infrastructure assets, we would empower the Edo State Facility Management Agency, which was recently set up, to maintain the facilities and ensure that they retain their structural integrity for a long time to come and to facilitate industrialisation through strategic infrastructure of the Benin port, Gelegele sea port and industrial park and ensure massive and continuous improving of the network of urban and rural roads across the state. We are going to create access to clean and safe water supply (as demonstrated in the Uromi water project) as well as provide access to electricity as seen in the on-going 55MW Ossiomo power project and the 450MW Edo Azura Power Plant and improve Edo citizens’ access to basic infrastructure services — water, sanitation, power, education and healthcare. On economy and Industrialisation, Trade and Investment and focus on providing support for the development and growth of local industries.

What are your Post-Covid-19 economic agenda?
We would be running a post-Covid-19 economy after the elections. This would task our resolve to restart the economy even as we push for economic stimulus package to resuscitate businesses, sustain livelihoods and hold the economy together. In essence, our focus would be on supporting businesses with low interest loan facilities; strengthening the productive sector by prioritising the Edo Production Hub Initiative and pursuing more impactful policies in the agricultural sector.

The reforms in the Edo State College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Edo State College of Education would be sustained, even as we source for more partners to pull in resources to groom our youth for global competitiveness. We will increase investment in the healthcare system while ensuring the statewide rollout of a responsive and well-managed Health Insurance Scheme.

How would you relate this to the past four years and what would you say are your major achievements?
Specifically, in the past four years, some of our key targets and achievements include Job Creation. In this administration, the goal was to Create 200,000 new jobs. We established the Edo State Skills Development Agency (also known EdoJobs), to drive this goal.
Investments in Agriculture: We had promised to develop 250,000 hectares of farmlands across the state. Through the Edo Agriprenuer Programme, we partnered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to support agricultural development.

We have also set up a farm mechanisation hub through a Private Public Partnership (PPP), which provides for tractors and other farm implements for farmers across the state. On Industry and Infrastructure (Roads, Schools, Hospitals, Housing), our mission was to extend roads, address flooding and evolve efficient traffic management solutions. We have completed over 800 roads, which stretch for about 2000km, with at least a road project in each of the 192 wards in the state.

The Ministry of Infrastructure has constructed about 400 roads, while the Edo State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR) PLUS and other partners have constructed 400 roads. This election is already a done deal as it is between light and darkness. My records speak volume for me. I am running on my records of performance.