By Desmond Osagie
Recently, some group of youths who called themselves APC youths in Edo South and led by one Tony Kabaka Adun, staged a protest and addressed the over their perceived neglect by the Obaseki administration.
They also accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of neglecting APC leaders and youths who worked for him to win the 2016 governorship election in Edo State, among others.
A careful look at the youths who staged the protest will reveal that they are mainly youths loyal to Kabaka Adun, who worked for him while Kabaka worked as levy collector in motor-parks and markets in the state during the administration of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
When Obaseki assumed office in 2016, he decided to correct some anomalies in the revenue collection procedure in parks and markets in the state.
He began by abrogating the use of individuals or contractors for levy collection and introduced the use of electronic payment system. He urged the former revenue collectors to come forward for training on the use of electronic revenue collection system. While some embraced the offer, others, most of whom are loyal to Kabaka, turned down the offer.
In a matter of weeks, Kabaka’s boys were out of business as they lacked the skills to participate in the new technology-based levy collection system.
The flag-off of empowerment programmes by the Obaseki administration, shortly after he assumed office, has opened several windows for capacity building and employment for Edo people and residents, many of whom are now employers of labour .
Since the introduction of electronic system of levy collection, there has been a steady increase in the state’s internally generated revenue figures, as leakages associated with the use of individuals in tax collection have been blocked.
Edo State is naturally endowed with fertile land that is good for cultivation of different cash and food crops like plantain, cassava, cocoa, oil palm, timber, pineapple, just to name few.
It is surprising that the sets of youth that protested against their alleged neglect by Obaseki are not taking advantage of the agriculture potential in the state.
Their leader, Kabaka, allegedly made a lot of money from collecting taxes and levies on behalf of Edo State government in the past. Why has he not invested in agriculture or other ventures and engage his followers in any of the many profitable ventures?
Democracy is all about meeting the needs of the majority of the people and not for the select few. Obaseki is doing this by creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Several skills acquisition programmes for the unemployed and under-employed have been organised in the state and thousands of unemployed people are hired daily through the EdoJobs electronic platform.
There are others that have been shortlisted, interviewed after the Computer-Based Test (CBT), and are awaiting appointment letters into the state civil service.
Kabaka and his loyalists’ claim that they have been neglected by the Obaseki administration is not only a lie, but a deliberate attempt to rubbish the efforts of the Obaseki administration at empowering Edo people through direct employment and skills training.
At this crucial moment in the life of this administration in Edo, Obaseki should be allowed to concentrate on the providing good governance to the people.
Nonetheless, the governor should avoid any controversy, threat, fiasco as much as possible, because it is not only dangerous at this time, it is also politically wrong, and unhealthy. Obaseki should strive hard to engage more unemployed graduates through the Edojobs scheme, while more rural communities should be opened up with good roads and electricity.
This will encourage youths to stay in rural areas to practice agriculture. Importantly, youths who are interested in agriculture should be trained and assisted with loans, equipment and seedlings to start their business.
- Osagie is resident in Benin-City