By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, has given reasons for the construction of roads and other infrastructure in the state, saying that government must invest in such infrastructure to have citizens that are skilled and employable.
According to Oshiomhole, “you have roads so that those who want to invest their business do not use their capital to construct or repair roads; you extend electricity so that they can be connected to power.”
He said: “The responsibility of government is to create an enabling environment for the private sector to set up their businesses. Government does not have a good history of running businesses and in any case, which one comes first; if you locate a business in a place you can’t access. You will not make sense, if you are to build a factory at Okpekpe for example; how do you carry the raw materials to Okpekpe?”
How do you evacuate the finished products? How do you get your skilled workers to agree to work there? In fact, the reasons we started on roads, I can explain that to you; to be able to deliver on the basic needs of the poor, the starting point is access to site. And to eliminate poverty, you must integrate every community into the economy of the state and the starting point is roads.”
“Ask people who have travelled far and wide; I guess you have also traveled far and wide. When you talk about the Chinese economy growing with ten percent digit over the years, it is not just so because they started building factories, those factories are the result that they have already put the basic amenities in place such as provision of electricity. First, they made sure that their pupils go to school and when the multi-nationals come to build business, they don’t have to spend their money to build roads, to bring water and to bring electricity.
“The business of Nigeria private sector today, is that every business man is expected to be a municipality to himself; he has to build roads, he has to sink his own borehole, he has to bring his own generator, he has to provide his own security guards and when he adds all of that together, the business is no longer competitive.
“The challenge of government everywhere in the world is to provide these amenities and that is the much talk about enabling environment. As we are doing with Bank of Industry for example, to now give credit to people who want to set up what you call cottage industry. It is better we encourage Edo people to set up industries than for Edo State government to set up the cottage industry.”