Tony Osauzo, Benin
The second term of office of Edo State Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki began Thursday at exactly 11.58 am, following his swearing-in by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Esther Edigin, at the Tennis Court ground of Samuel Ogbemdia Stadium in Benin City.
At the event, the Aide-de-Camp to the Governor, a Superintendent of Police, collapsed, apparently due to exhaustion and he was immediately escorted from the podium by two security personnel before the state’s immediate past Commissioner for Health, Dr Patrick Okundia, joined in resuscitating him.
Speaking shortly after taking his oath of office, Obaseki said his re-election represents new hope and I see myself as a vessel in the redefinition of democracy in Nigeria and that he is not unaware that this places enormous responsibility on him.
‘It is pertinent to State that there are many sides to the victory we are relishing today. Aside from the fact that it restores hope in democracy as a form of participatory government, our victory also offers an opportunity for us to bridge the gap between a challenging past and a promising future.
‘The unfortunate crisis we have had to endure as a people over the decades has led to deep divisions, which has resulted in inequality, injustice, underdevelopment, poverty, insecurity and unequal distribution of opportunities.
‘However, this is the time to heal. We are kith and kin with a common destiny. Let us now stop dwelling in the past. It is now time to take our collectives destinies in our own hands as Edo people and commence the arduous task of Making Edo Great Again (MEGA),’ the Governor stated.
He stressed that acting together, as a people propelled by a common zeal in pursuit of progress and advancement, there is nothing Edo people cannot overcome if they have a consensus on how to move the state forward.
‘What we need is what I call a unity template, with which to overcome our challenges. The unity template has the ability to help us respond to the economic consequences of the pandemic, to deal with our challenges of insecurity and underdevelopment and to put us on a path to Making Edo Great Again (MEGA).’
Attributing his re-election to the awesome power of God Almighty and the indomitable will and determination of the great people of the State, Obaseki said ”the people of Edo State spoke unequivocally through the ballot on September 19th and have entrusted us with the task of steering our State for another four years.
‘I am encouraged by the trust you have bestowed on us and grateful for your belief in my leadership and my capacity to continue piloting the affairs of this great State.
‘The world is currently going through unprecedented challenges, which is taking its toll on our collective wellbeing and demanding so much from the socio-economic and political structures that hold us together.
‘We are battling a rampaging pandemic, COVID-19, which has claimed more than 1 million lives globally. It has shut down the economies of world superpowers, overwhelmed some of the best healthcare systems and has redefined the way we work, live and relate as human beings.
On the other hand, democracy and the participatory government are facing a crisis of confidence locally and globally. We are compelled, now and again, to reassess our choices in the light of the unfolding intrigues, paradoxes and conflicts that have come to characterize our political reality as people in the free world.
‘As a result, the liberties, which democracy offers and which generations have taken for granted, are now being questioned.
‘These have caused many to reevaluate the capacity of democracy to regulate the affairs of men and deliver freedom, equality and good governance.
‘It is therefore gratifying that Edo is taking the lead in this onerous task of restoring faith in democracy in Nigeria and the entire globe.
‘What you, my dear people of Edo State, achieved with the September 19 governorship election is the restoration of confidence in democracy and its institutions, and we have become a point of reference on how the will of the people can triumph in a democracy that functions properly.’
He said in the last four years, his administration has shown that there are superior ways of running the government, adding: ‘We have utilized core values such as transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, prudence and co-governance. Today, we are acclaimed to be a success story in good governance in Nigeria”.
‘Because of our antecedents in managing resources and redefining and deepening the social contract between the government and Edo people, we believe that despite the problems and challenges we currently face, we shall overcome.
‘This social contract between the government and the people, which you redefined in the last election, calls for trust and reciprocity. We do not claim to have the solutions to all our problems,’ Obaseki further stated.
He emphasised that there was no di dichotomy between government and the people, saying that government’s money earned through tax, belong to the people and therefore encouraged the people of the state to continue to pay their taxes willingly.
‘What we guarantee you, my dear people of Edo people, is that we will provide value for your money (tax revenues) by utilizing it judiciously, transparently and with accountability.’
Governor Obaseki explained that in the last four years, his administration has changed how government works with the introduction of memoranda of understanding and memoranda of agreement with organisations and communities, which assist the government in allocating responsibilities and relating with the people and other partners in development.
‘Your government is committed to working for every Edo State citizen and lifting their wellbeing by ensuring that Edo State grows into a globally competitive economy enabled by technology for the benefit of all her citizens. Before 2025, Edo State will develop and grow its digital economy and operate a digital government. The digital government we are building will plug into the new digital age and would ensure we deliver better and efficient services to all our citizens”, he added.
He said in realizing the vision as reflected in the MEGA manifesto, his government will focus on the following priorities areas of growing ‘the Social Sector by constantly improving our Education, Healthcare System, provision of social security and safety nets, caring for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged in our State.
He added that the manifesto would ‘rapidly develop our critical energy, housing, digital and road Infrastructure, which provides a framework to drive inclusive growth; Build the Economy and drive Industrialization, Trade and Investment, to solidify our State’s status as the choice investment destination in the country; Preserve the Environment and Public Utilities, to make our State more functional and adapt to the challenges of climate change and rural-urban migration. Our major drive will be the clean and green Edo initiative and sustaining our campaign to plant trees and restore the forest.
‘Enshrine Peace amongst our people and improve the general security to lives and property within the State, by working closely with all religious, traditional and community stakeholders
‘Exploit Agriculture and Natural Resources, by tapping our God-given resources to provide food security, create wealth and improve the livelihoods of our people;
‘Strengthen Public Service, Public Finance and Public Revenue, by recalibrating our workforce for the future world of work;
‘Sustain Law, Judiciary and Legal Reforms, to ensure justice, equity and fairness in private and public dealings; Promote Arts and Culture, to preserve the past, document the present, envision the future, and use our arts and culture as a springboard to develop tourism and Revamp the Transport sector, by developing transport infrastructure to a more modern and affordable system.’
The Governor disclosed that his administration has identified key initiatives that will drive public service reforms over the next twelve months by accelerating capacity building; finding new ways of working and operationalizing the Civil Service Training Centre as a centre of excellence in training public servants.
‘With a target of ensuring a defined template for development and growth in our State up till 2050, we have set the modalities for a 30-year development plan to provide government with necessary tools, guidelines and milestones for development planning”, he said.
Dignitaries at the event included the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by an aide, Idubor Iyamu, governors of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, Douye Diri of Bayelsa; Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, while governor Nysom Wike was represented by his deputy, Dr. (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry Banigo and Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.