I t is no longer news that Godwin Obaseki is the new governor of Edo State. Against all odds, the former head of the economic team of Edo State was finally sworn in last Saturday, as 10th governor of the state, having surmounted the huddles placed on his way by state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, some two months ago. Less than a week after the 10th governor of Edo State was sworn in, there is no doubt that expectations of Edo indigenes are on the high side, as they expect him to hit ground running, having been an integral part of the administration of former governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
Though, to an extent, the new governor seemed to have demonstrated his readiness to hit the ground running, considering his immediate appointment of the Secretary to the State Government, on his first day in office, political analysts are quick to comment that appointing an SSG alone is not an indication that Obaseki actually meant business, until he gets down to work immediately.
They argued further that the new Edo governor needs to do more than expected, as there are more than expected work for him in the state, if he is truly serious about piloting the affairs of the state. Among the onerous task ahead of Obaseki, as highlighted, include:
Dilapidated public offices
Though Governor Obaseki, during his first tour to some public offices, said his government will commence instant rehabilitation of some of the public offices and restore the pride of the civil service, concerned citizens of the state however, said they will appreciate immediate action, rather than a quick promise, which may not manifest before the governor leaves office.
According to them, several public offices are in serious dilapidated condition, especially Palm House, Secretariat Building and Block D, which accommodate some of the state ministries and agencies.
Other offices that need urgent attention are the Civil Service Commission building and the Civil Service Staff Training Centre, all in Benin City, which are crying for immediate attention with their tattered look.
Meanwhile, key actors in Edo State civil service have expressed their confidence in the state governor to turn things around for the service and the state at large.
Among those in this school of thought are: the Head of Service, Mrs. Gladys Idahor, the chairman of Edo State Civil Service Commission, Princess Ekiuwa Inneh and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Peter Ogbodaga.
They all told media men that the governor’s interaction with them during his first visit was a signal that his administration have the interest of public servants at heart.
Another area that the new governor of Edo State is expected to hit the ground running is the education sector, where he is expected to pay attention to the various needs of the sector in the state.
Though his predecessor, Oshiomole, dazzled some of the teachers in the state with the payment of seven months’ salary arrears, observers have said that Obaseki will need to give more attention to the sector, than his predecessor.
According to them, technical education in the state is almost extinct. A staff of Benin Technical College, who simply identified herself as Mrs Osahende Ituha, told The Point, “This government need to quickly come to the aid of this school, if he doesn’t want it to become history in his time. Most of the facilities in the school, as we talk, are not functioning, while the building is in a sorry case.
“Though our new governor said in few weeks from now, work will start in resuscitating the school, and we hope so. We need an immediate intervention from government in this school.”
Lack of electricity, water, in communities
Another aspect of the state life, which Obaseki must quickly address is the electricity and water challenges that have long been confronting some communities in the state.
Among these communities is Uhi community in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State. Finding by The Pointrevealed that the community has been in total darkness for more than two years.
With his inauguration, residents of the community are currently looking up to Obaseki for a positive change. One of the residents of Uhi community, Gabriel Imasuen, said the level of past governments’ neglect of the community was high. He added that his community is seriously lagging behind in the state, as no social amenity could be boasted of in the community at this computer age.
He said, “These days, it is hard to believe that there still exist a community without functional primary and secondary school in Edo, but our community is an example of that.
“It is no joke, and it is very painful that I have been spending about N300 daily as transport fare on each of my kids to attend primary school in the nearest community, Ehor.
“As if that is not bad enough, the only secondary school here can’t pass for one. This is because the grammar school has only six classrooms without desks and chairs.
“The school, which was established in 1970, doesn’t have facilities to aid teaching and learning.”
Sunday Eloh, another resident, said the people relied on water from a stream to survive, recalling that the only period they had some relief over the water problem was when Samson Osagie, a former member of the House of Representatives, sank a borehole in the community.
He however, said the borehole had since long broken down, and that the community had gone back to its years of lacking potable water.
Eloh said, “The borehole got bad and none of our representatives at the state or National Assembly has deemed it fit to assist us in fixing it.
“We talk about water, but it is also sad that the community does not have a commonplace called market. Most times, we ask ourselves whether we are truly part of Edo.’’ On his part, Osazua Imafidon, noted that another challenge the people faced was lack of access to primary health care facility.
“There is no health centre here; whenever there is an emergency, we have to travel to Ehor to get treatment and that is if the unexpected does not happen on the way.
“It is sad that as indigenes of the state and Uhunmwode Local Government Area, we have been left to fend for ourselves,” he said.
There is no doubT ThaT expecTaTions of edo indigenes are on The high side, as They expecT him To hiT The ground running, having been an inTegral parT of The adminisTraTion of former governor, adams oshiomhole
Another battle Obaseki must be ready to combat is challenges from the opposition parties, especially the PDP. It would be recalled that his victory in the election that saw him emerged the governor of the state some months ago is currently being challenged in court by the PDP. This is an indication that the opposition is not putting up with his administration, and pundits have said he should prepare his mind for certain disappointments, as it means that some of the people he governs in the state may not be ready to see him succeed.
Following from this, concerned people in Edo State have called on Obaseki to see the need to carry the opposition along in his administration. They added that true democracy is not achieved without the opposition.
In line with this, the Bishop of the Anglican Communion, Benin Diocese, Rt. Rev. Peter Imasuen, has called on Governor Obaseki to extend a hand of fellowship to other candidates he defeated in the September 28 gubernatorial election. The Anglican Bishop urged new the governor not to abandon his defeated opponents, but see how they could contribute meaningful ideas to his administration, in the interest of the masses.
Former governor of Edo State, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor, advised Obaseki to concentrate his first 100 days on tackling social amenities challenges in the state.
Osunbor, in an exclusive chat with The Point, explained, “I will advise him to work according to his manifestoes. In his first 100 days in office, he should concentrate on the immediate needs of the electorate, so as to boost their confidence level in him.”
Obaseki had declared his readiness to hit the ground running. Without doubt, Obaseki is very well aware of a section of the Oath of Office he took on November 12, which stated “that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria. So help me God.” Hence, he has no reason for lamentation, but to work hard to deliver on his electioneering campaign promises.
Good enough, he knows what lies ahead of him. In a recent media chat before the election, Obaseki had promised that “my first assignment is to put together a team and get appropriation for next year, because we have to hit the ground running. The focus will not change in terms of infrastructure and education. The added focus will be on job creation and empowerment. That is why I need to focus on the budget and ensure that I get enough appropriation to emphasise the social aspects which I promised during my campaigns. We will continue to build roads and refurbish schools. What is important is how to get people to work.”
I wIll advIse hIm to work accordIng to hIs manIfestoes. In hIs fIrst 100 days In offIce, he should concentrate on the ImmedIate needs of the electorate, so as to boost theIr confIdence level In hIm
In his manifesto, Obaseki had said his vision was “to make agriculture a viable business in Edo State” and his mission was “to leverage our comparative advantage to become the agribusiness hub in Nigeria.”
To this end, the new governor promised the teaming unemployed people of the state a minimum of 200,000 job opportunities through agriculture in the next four years.
And to achieve this, Obaseki said, “Our strategy will be to focus on the key crops that are best adapted to our local environment for competitive large-scale production. We have mapped Edo State across key crop lines and will develop Crop Enterprise Zones in the different areas, based on comparative advantages and availability of land.
“While our major focus will be on oil palm, rubber, cassava, rice and cocoa, we will also explore growth opportunities in fruits and vegetable farming, aqua-culture, animal husbandry and poultry. Our key goal is to create shared prosperity for our people, by encouraging and safeguarding investments in agriculture through: effective policy and administrative framework.
“We will provide the enabling environment for agribusiness to thrive in Edo State by enacting investorfriendly policies and providing the necessary administrative support for effective project implementation,” he said.
He also promised to leverage on the roads and infrastructure development of Governor Oshiomhole, add ing, “We will consolidate on the massive road construction efforts of the current administration and improve access to other basic infrastructure, such as power and water, which are necessities to support production, processing and marketing of farm produce.”
He added that his administration will use skill acquisition and technology enhancement to “maximise the gains from key crops identified and stimulate optimal yield through farmers’ access to inputs, agronomic practices and modern farming tech nology and equipment,” and to “finance local economic empowerment through Out-Growers Scheme,” with a view to boost the productivity of farmers by increasing access to capital under credit enhancement initiatives, including off-take contracts.”
With the situation of things, it is believed that time will be the judge whether the new governor of Edo State is up to the tasks handed over to him by Oshiomhole, even as keen political observers are waiting in the wings, watching Obaseki’s measured steps