Jonathan Inaugurates Edo State Secretariat Complex, Hails Obaseki’s Reforms

•We planned for N70,000 minimum wage three years ago, says governor 

•State to pay salaries on June 14 ahead of Salah

Former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan yesterday commissioned the Edo State Secretariat Complex on Sapele Road, Benin City, commending Governor Godwin Obaseki’s commitment to the progress and development of the State.

Jonathan also laid the foundation stone for the 1,500-capacity Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Auditorium, which is being constructed at the Secretariat Complex.

Dignitaries at the commissioning ceremony included Obaseki and the First Lady of Edo State, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki; Deputy Governor of Edo State, Godwins Omobayo and his wife as well as the Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice Daniel Okungbowa.

Also present were the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2024 governorship election, Dr. Asue Ighodalo and his wife; the Deputy governorship candidate and Secretary to the Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie., and the Head of Service (HoS), Dr. Anthony Okungbowa, among others.

Speaking on the new complex, Jonathan noted that the buildings were some of the best in Nigeria, commending the governor for his vision to complete the dream of late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, the then governor of Bendel State, who started the construction works.

He encouraged other governors to emulate Obaseki in investing in the public and civil service and recruiting first class graduates into the service through automatic employment.

“I want to join the civil servants to thank you for your visionary leadership and improving their welfare and paying them N70,000 minimum wage. That is a wage that will actually take them home.

“If you have a vision, certainly you will find a way to overcome all challenges before you. Edo State workers are happy for your transformative leadership which has changed their lives for the better,” he said.

On his part, Obaseki said the commissioning of the Secretariat Complex will  transform the landscape of Benin City, as it is not just an edifice but represents what the future of what city should look like.

He said: “It is not just an edifice, but represents how we want to run our affairs now and in the future by prioritizing what matters most which are productivity, efficiency and excellence.

“The structures are a reflection of the investment we have made over the last seven and half years to rebuild our institutions. This has been a painstaking process which includes a total overhaul of how the public and civil service in Edo State operates.

“We have now built a workforce that will now drive change and advancement in pursuit of the core values of our democracy and good governance. After securing my mandate to govern the people of Edo State in November 2016, this complex, particularly Palm House, was the first place I visited.

“ I started work and built this place, which was in bad shape as the civil servants were working in an uncomfortable environment. I made a pledge to them, myself and to God that I will rebuild the infrastructure of this Secretariat. Today, we are here to see for ourselves what we have done.

“The takeaways from the building of this Secretariat are that it tells us that we can achieve anything we set our minds to irrespective of the opinion of anybody. When we started the building process, many people didn’t see the big picture, but today look at where we are.

“This building is one of the most advanced Secretariat buildings in Nigeria. It has 24 hours daily power supply and high internet connectivity. We have done all this because we believed that government bureaucracy must work if we must make progress as a State.”

The governor noted that the concept of the Secretariat complex were replicated in other locations across the State, noting that they include the health hub, built environment hub, agricultural hub and the education hub.

Separately, Obaseki said that the state government made plans for a N70,000 minimum wage three years ago when the  signs began to show that the economy was going in the wrong direction.

The governor disclosed this when the editorial board of Tell Magazine presented him with the Award for Exceptional Courage in Leadership, at the Government House, Benin City, the State’s capital.

He said that the state made the plans for the increase in minimum wage when he started raising the alarm on the excessive borrowings by the federal government to meet its statutory obligations.

He said: “We are able to pay the N70,000 minimum wage because we planned ahead in the last three years because we knew a day like this would come.

“Thank God that we have been vindicated today, as our sincerity has helped us prevail over every situation. We see prospects for a better economy and transparent government in Edo State because of the institutional reforms we have introduced to better manage the State.”

He continued: “We have always prevailed because the majority of Edo people understand, appreciate and endorse what our government has done. This has been the reason for the courage with which we have tackled any problem we faced along the way.”

Noting that the state was on a steady growth trajectory, he said that for the next few months that are left for the administration, it will finish strong.

“We will finish all that we have started. This week, I will set up my transition team that will aggregate and document for the next administration all our achievements, projects and undertakings for our administration,” he said.

Obaseki, yesterday, also said that the state government will pay government workers salaries on June 14, ahead of the Salah celebrations.

The governor said this during the commissioning of the State Secretariat Complex , in Benin City, the State capital.

According to him: “I have heard all the accolades about the minimum wage. I assure the workers that it is not a fluke. We are a very deliberate government that sits back to do our work. You know that for the seven and half years since we came into office, we have paid salaries on the 26th of every month.

“In cases where we have holidays, we pay our workers before the holidays so they have money to celebrate. In that same guise, we will be paying the salaries for June on Friday June 14, ahead of the Salah celebration to enable you to have a good Salah.”

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