During the past four years, Edo State has made enormous economic progress. This can be seen most clearly in the rising trend for incomes and consumption: Between 2016 when Godwin Obaseki took over as the governor of the state and 2020, consumption capital in the state went up by almost 20 per cent. Broader measures of well-being confirm this picture as life expectancy, job and wealth creation and educational attainment have all improved remarkably.
Viewed from either perspective, from income and consumption on the one hand, or broad social indicators on the other, apart from Lagos State, Edo is advancing much faster than most of its contemporaries, when measured at a comparable stage.
Against this background of achievement, it is all the more staggering and shameful that a percentage of his former party leaders, All Progressives Congress (APC) is in cruel indignation, they queried that the total economic activities of the state ought to have been in their hands and their whims and caprices.
Ironically, state development report 2020, estimates that virtually all the sectors of the economy have been touched by the Obaseki administration.
Complaints from the style of Obaseki’s administration however welcome, must not distract attention from this massive and continuing burden of underdevelopment in the state, which he has come to arrest.
Edo State development report today states that the poor masses, artisans, market men, women and the poorest of the poor are happy and at peace with the state of development, especially with the elimination of double taxation, “Agberoism” touts and other extortions.
The state and the local governments can now pay salaries as and when due.
Before 2016, local government like the cosmopolitan local government Oredo in the state, that could hardly realize 10 million naira monthly from their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), now gets about N100 million on the average every month from the same source.
This has rendered state change revolution of previous administration, a poor incident – Small fractures and tissues in the dry crust of Edo Society. Though, they announced the abyss. Beneath the apparently solid surface, however, they betrayed oceans of liquid matter, only needing expansion to rend into fragments. Mistakenly and confusedly, they have proclaimed the emancipation of the people’s government of Godwin Obaseki.
Like what his predecessor Adams Oshiomhole said, “All positive and progressive changes in human endeavour go with pains and perhaps stepping on toes. Obaseki vowed to put his life on the line for the development of Edo and to erect his administration on a tripod; of urban renewal, Agricultural infrastructure and Industrial template.
To this end, Obaseki has so far done noble, in his implementation and execution of this will. Within the first three years of his administration he took the mantra of Urban renewal and environmental discipline to the door steps of the ordinary Edo citizen. He outlawed the Naira of crass insubordination and hooliganism otherwise called, “Agberos” from the state revenue collection, built and replaced them with humane, friendly and modern technology- driven models. He gave the land transfer transaction a human face with a deliberate policy that crashed the certificate of occupancy “C of O” from over one million naira (N1m) to fifty thousand naira (N50,000). These actions no doubt, may have made him step on the toes of some privileged powerful few, but the people are happy with their governor.
On infrastructural development, he embarked on the complete reconstruction of the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium, rehabilitated schools and established three other technical colleges, one in each Senatorial District to complement the newly built Government Science and Technical College, among many others too numerous to mention.
If Obaseki is to be commended for these giant strides, his passion for the future of Edo State will write his name in gold and for redirecting us to our natural and human resources. The thought that crude oil and the not-too-consistent Federal Allocation will not be with us forever and that we must start thinking of technology and Agriculture as a fallback position to Edo State without crude oil. Contrary to the uninformed critics, it’s with the support of the Presidency, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and DangoteRefineries, that the Obaseki administration embarked on the construction of Edo Seaport, a project which is aimed at decongesting the Lagos, Warri and the Port-Harcourt seaports and making the Bight of Benin a Cargo Ship-belting destination.
On Agriculture, he has facilitated the return of the Michelin Rubber Estate to Urhonigbe Rubber Plantation Reserve, revitalised the Ikpeshi Rice Farm and flagged-off the over five billion naira palm plantation investment in the state. These gestures have brought and ushered into the economy the associated benefits of employment opportunities for our youths and women.
In contrast, some seemingly powerful members of his former party (APC), felt the developmental strides though noble, ought to have been executed differently where majority of them would have been on the driver’s seat. No matter how you dislike a messenger; it is good to accept the good message. It’s on the side of wisdom for all to accept the message of the good tidings in the overall interest of Edo People.
Today, this same Obaseki is seeking a second term ticket to complete his unfinished business, the question is ‘who can stop Obaseki?’
• Ihimekpen writes from Benin City