By Peter Okhiria
Governor Adams Oshiomhole is a man moving the train of development in Edo State at such a fast pace that would make the world’s fastest sprinter, Usain Bolt, green with envy. He is in a hurry to develop Edo State; he is in a hurry to halt the declining fortunes of the state and transform it to the state the people have always dreamed of; and in just two years, the dream is already taking a clear and beautiful shape.
Before the coming of Comrade Oshiomhole on November 12, 2008, the state had virtually been run aground by the past administrations: roads were bad and impassable; pipe borne water was a mirage; rural dwellers were living in the dark as rural electrification was only executed on paper, healthcare centres were dilapidated and public schools were in complete shambles.
These and many more were the challenges Comrade Adams Oshiomhole met on ground after his inauguration as Governor.
To ensure that the people of the state got the worth for their money, the Governor bided his time planning, strategizing and fine_tuning modalities to ensure that the decline in the state’s infrastructure is halted and the state returned to a path of glory.
Today, the story has changed. From Benin City to Uromi, from Igueben to Iyora, construction work is going on in all the local government areas of the state and in virtually every sector: education sector, healthcare sector, provision of water, transportation, rural electrification and the sports sectors. The Governor has turned the state into a giant construction site.
Now, the people have something to smile about. Right from the centre of the Benin City, the state capital, the Kings Square (Oba Ovonranmwen) stands tall and proud. Once a haven of chaos and confusion, the King’s Square, formerly Ring Road is now a tourists’ haven as it boasts of a beautifully lighted musical fountain which rises to over a hundred feet at the height of its glory. The fountain is a sight to behold, especially at night when it emits different hues of colour giving the ambience of an environment only akin to what is seen in Paris or Las Vegas.
Away from the Fountain, the major roads bordering the King’s Square are being dualised with street lights, culverts and walkways. The roads include Akpakpava road; Airport road; Sapele Road; oba Market road and Sokpomba Road. Another major artery into the City, Uselu_Lagos road is also being turned into a six_lane expressway to ease the flow of traffic on that axis.
In another part of the town is what was formerly known as Costain_Isonorho layout. That part of town was completely neglected, forgotten and left to rot by past administrations. The area was literally turned into a refuse dump and refuse as high as a storey_building competed for space with the inhabitants of the area.
However, the story is not the same today as the refuse has been cleared and all the roads covering five streets in the layout have been fixed. The roads are complete with walkways, side drains and street lights. To reflect its new status, the Costain_Isornorho layout was renamed Gani Fawehinmi layout after the late legal icon and human rights activist.
Away from the state capital, in virtually all the eighteen Local Government Areas of the State, new roads are springing up, dilapidated ones are being rehabilitated and others are being dualised to accommodate the heavy flow of traffic.
However, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole’s administration is not all about roads alone. Schools are also being rehabilitated with all vigour and attention it deserves. From Idia College, to Maria Goretti; from Niger College to Adolor College; from Annunciation Catholic College (ACC), Irrua to St John Bosco, Ubiaja; from St John’s College, Fugar to Otaru College, Auchi; from Holy Trinity Grammar School, Sabongidda-Ora to St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School, Igarra; from Edo Boys High School, Benin City to Igueben Grammar School; from Iguobazuwa Grammar School to St Angela’s Grammar School, Uzairue to Our Lady of Fatima College, Auchi the school buildings which have all been left to rot for years are now being refurbished and some new structures are being erected in some of the schools. The structures of these public schools can now compete with what is seen in some of the best private schools anywhere in the country.
To underscore the importance of education to the state government, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had at the 2010 World Teachers’ Day, said: “I want to assure that all schools will have a common high standard. We have decided that whether a school is to be built by the Local Government or State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) or the State Government, the specifications will be the same. We started what I believe is a revolution and I ask you to buy into it”.
In the healthcare sector, the Women and Children Hospital, Otuo; the Women and Children Hospital, Ewohinmi; the Women and Children Hospital, Igarra and the Central Hospital, Benin City, the School of Health Technology, Benin City and the Eye Clinic of the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, which now boasts of the most modern eye centre in the country are some of the healthcare centres that have been positively affected by the Comrade’s magical wand.
In just two years, there is the comprehensive renovation of maternity and labour wards in 24 general hospitals; construction of three antenatal clinics at the Auchi, Uromi and Benin Central hospitals; beyond that, under the MDG Programme, the state has constructed additional structures and renovated many primary and secondary health facilities in the three senatorial districts.
The already completed Women and Children Hospital, Otuo stands out as a world_class facility which compares with any of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, the design of the Central Hospital, Benin City which is a cynosure of all eyes will, when completed, will return the hospital to its pride of place as the number one referral medical institution in the nation.
To tackle the waste challenges of a modern society, Oshiomhole’s government acquired and deployed for use two mechanical sweepers, 48 giant roll on metal waste bins and other specialised equipment and through a public_partnership programme, the government engaged reputable private players with the proper equipment to handle both domestic and industrial waste. This has enabled the Waste Disposal Board to be properly refocused as a regulatory agency.
Meantime, rural electrification and provision of pipe_borne water are also high on the cards of the Oshiomhole administration giving the attention both are receiving.
In the area of the rural electrification, many rural communities in the Central and Northern Senatorial districts of the state have been provided with electricity, with some of them awaiting connection to the national grid by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, (PHCN).
Already, the following electricity projects have been completed: the Uluoke_Okpella Overhead Line, which will enhance the distribution networks in Etsako West, Etsako Central and Etsako East Local Government Areas. This will reduce the load on Edo Central and make additional megawatts available for the use of that part of the State; the Idumu_Eran/Idumeson Electricity Project; Urhomehe Electricity Project; Agbonkina_Evbotube Electricity Project; Erua_Evboerien Electricity Project; Ekpenada_Ekperi Electricity Project and the Oghomehre/Ogbago Electricity Project.
In addition, the following electricity projects are nearing completion: Upgrading of the Otuo Electricity Supply from 2.5MVA to 7.5MVA; Udo_Iguafole Electricity project; Odighi electricity Project and the Evbuabogun Electricity project.
On water, two brand new heavy duty rigs were procured by the government to drill boreholes in any terrain in the state. The rigs have the capacity to drill up to 1,300 metres and this is particularly helpful in areas where the water table is low. Already, the Auchi Water Supply Scheme; the Phase ll of the Upper Sakponba Water supply scheme; and the Ehor Water Supply Scheme have all been rehabilitated, while 101 solar_driven boreholes have been drilled and equipped in the three senatorial districts.
In all of these, what Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has brought to Edo State is something unique. It is what many people have called “governance with a human face”; it is delivering to the people the benefits that have eluded them for so many years; it is delivering on the promises made. At half time of the first term, the Governor has already scored a hat_trick, it is no doubt that that the scores will even be higher be the end of the first term and God willing, his eight years in the saddle of a once_despondent state but one that has now seen the light.
*Peter Okhiria,CPS to Edo State Governor,Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.