My dear and great people of Edo State, as we usher in the 2017, I would like to use the occasion to express my profound gratitude and appreciation to you for overwhelmingly entrusting me with the responsibility to take charge and to steer the socio-economic and political destiny of our beloved state in the next four years. I am aware of the enormity of the trust and confidence you have reposed in me and by the grace of God Almighty I will meet your expectation.
As we reflect on 2016, we have every reason to be thankful to God Almighty for preserving us and our country. 2016 has been a year of challenges, difficulties, excitements and opportunities.
Undoubtedly, the economic recession unleashed unprecedented difficulties on individuals, families and communities and no aspect of our economic and social life has been spared from severe economic hardship, which has affected every area of life.
Because of the drop in the price of crude oil and the vandalism of pipelines, we saw the value of our currency decline significantly. We also saw industries and businesses shut down, while people lost their jobs and unemployment continued to rise; all these thus led to increase in crime and poverty.
Despite the difficulties and gloom, 2016 still had some bright moments for us in Edo State for which we are grateful to the Almighty. By divine providence, we had the opportunity to show the world the rich tradition and culture of the Edo civilisation during the coronation of our most revered royal majesty, Omo N’ObaN’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Eware II, the 40th Oba of the Benin Kingdom. This generational display of splendour and culture fortuitously coincided with my victory and inauguration as the 5th Governor of Edo State.
These challenges and changes in the outgoing year, offer us an opportunity to create a society where we can utilise our historic, cultural and logistic advantages for our economic prosperity and social stability. As we deepen our democratic and other institutions, they will serve as a bastion to propel our economic revolution.
The advantages, which Edo State enjoyed in agriculture, the creativity and entrepreneurship of her people and its location and ability to attract industries and develop technical & vocational skills will pull us out of the current challenges.
In 2017 we will continue to build on the successes, which we achieved over the last eight years at much faster pace. Our goal is to attract investments to and make Edo State one of the easiest places to locate businesses and industries in Nigeria.
We have commenced actions to invest in and improve our technical and vocational schools so that we will train and produce highly qualified and employable people.
The development of Gelegele as a port and industrial zone is of high priority to the Government and people of Edo State, as it will improve the economic competitiveness of our state. I have, therefore, set up a seven-member, high powered committee headed by Engineer Gregory Ero, to establish Gelegele as a foremost economic and industrial hub in Nigeria.
One issue that continues to agitate Edo people is the lawless activities of some individuals, who persist in harassing and extorting innocent citizens under the guise of collecting taxes and levies. The laws of our country vests the responsibility for collecting taxes exclusively on the three tiers of government, i.e federal, state and local governments. Therefore, with effect from January 01, 2017, only employees of government can collect taxes and levies in Edo State. All arrangements to collect taxes or levies entered into by any state or local government agency in Edo State ceases to be valid henceforth. Citizens should call or alert law enforcement agencies if they find anyone involved in such nefarious activities.
We have unflinching faith and confidence that there is a bright light at the end of this dark phase, which, by the grace of God will end soon.
We are optimistic that with the current efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria and with our efforts in Edo State, there will be sustainable opportunities, which will create more jobs and provide greater opportunities for peace and prosperity for our state and country.
My good people of Edo State, as we usher in the New Year, let us always remember to share and show love to one another; let us be tolerant and patriotic and to always remember the words of William Shakespeare, the great English poet and dramatist, who said, ‘None is happy except all are happy’.
On this note, I wish you a prosperous and Happy New Year!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Long live Edo State.
•Obaseki, Governor of Edo State, made his New Year broadcast to the state yesterday.