By Osaze Imafidon
WITH the key promise of making Edo State an investment hub where everyone is empowered to pursue his dreams, the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki cannot be described as uneventful since it came on board.
The task of governing one of Nigeria’s flashpoint states is indeed, not an easy one any day.
It was for this reason that many looked up to Obaseki with great expectations as he assumed the mantle of leadership on November 12, 2016.
More to that is the fact that the last helmsman of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole raised the bar of leadership in the state with what observers described as star performances.Hence, the expectations of super-achievements from his successor. In accordance with that and his vision, Obaseki has not left anyone in about his determination to further develop the governance model that was birthed by his predecessor.
His prominent electoral pledges include the provision of two million jobs in his term, attracting investors to explore the mineral potentials of the state, restoration of normalcy in the affairs of community development associations, development of infrastructure and the construction of an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Gelegele among others.
With a team that is dedicated to his vision and mission, the aforementioned promises have gone beyond pledges to tasks in progress.
Truly, the government has been able to chart a course that would carry Edo people along and show them what to expect in the next three years in terms of infrastructure development.
While critiques may argue otherwise, Obaseki, has carried out a good number of innovative infrastructural plans which can be seen in the way the city now looks in terms of aesthetics.
Notably, the famous Oba Market and its environs, which had contributed to traffic gridlock at the city’s nerve centre was reorganized to ensure a free flow of vehicular and human traffic.To achieve that, he demolished houses and other structures which hitherto constituted obstructions.
Apart from that, other markets also attracted his attention as he stopped the habit of trading along the walkways.
This, however, did not come without opposition from those, who preferred the status quo. But that was met with the full weight of the law as those, who attempted to stop the wheel of progress are currently being prosecuted..
Being a private sector person, his decision to harness the opportunities in the private sector, was a salutary move that has continued to inspire hope in Edo.
One of the most conspicuous of the efforts in making the state an investment hub is the decision to convene the Alaghodaro summit.
The event which held from November 10 – 12, 2017, was attended by Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and other leading global and local investors.
In line with the objective of building a modern and progressive state where every citizen is empowered, the event brought together local and international business leaders and investors, bankers, financiers, industry experts, policymakers, the diplomatic community and the academia.
At the forum, participants had a robust debate on the various opportunities in every sector in order to kick-start an era of economic revolution in the state.
The key areas of focus include Law and Order, Civil Service Reform, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Transportation, Forest Regeneration and Conservation, Education, Healthcare, Arts, Culture, Tourism, and Hospitality.
The efforts of the state government in removing barriers to trade and investment include the signing into law, the Private Property Protection Law. The law has criminalised the activities of Community Development Associations in the state.
The CDAs were notorious for harassing landowners by making them pay all sorts of illegal levies and fraudulently sold people’s property until the PPA Law was put in place by the Obaseki-led government.
Similar events had taken place across the state resulting in the noticeable improvements in various sectors.
For instance, the resuscitation of the Auchi Fertilizer factory and the Okpella Cement factory and the blueprint on sports were also products of summits convened by the administration.
The recent award of contract for the construction of 20 stadiums, in the 18 Local Government Areas of the state and two in Oredo Local Government Area was birthed by the blueprint on sports.
Interestingly, when the intervention in sports is completed, there is no doubt that the state will regain its lost glory in sports.
In the health sector, the prospects of having affordable healthcare in the state are now certain given the ratification of a new Health Bill titled the Edo State Health Law 2017, which will domesticate the National Health Act of 2014.
Instructively, it was learned that the benefits of the bill include the remodeling and standardization of the health system in the state particularly the primary health care which covers 70 percent of the state’s health challenges.
Accordingly, when passed into law, it will enable the state government to roll out Primary Health Care Models in the three senatorial districts, the 18 Local Government Areas and the 192 wards in the
Also, the Central Hospital in Benin City is home to a multi-million Naira project, which, when completed, would compete with any modern hospital in the world. It seeks to end medical tourism in the state.
Expatiating on that recently, Obaseki said: “meaningful health care system in Nigeria would be a mirage if government fails to invest in the primary health care sub-sector which is the foundation of a
Education was not also left out in the ongoing transformation and consolidation in the state, as his focus on basic and technical education would definitely transform schools in the state into models that would produce technically sound youth population needed for industrialisation.
While these represent but a few among the various strides in most sectors in the last one year, one is convinced that the Obaseki administration needs the support of the people to be able to sustain its current pace.
•Imafidon, a Public Affairs commentator writes from Igueben.