By Nwachukwu Emeka
Since 2016, when Governor Godwin Obaseki emerged the helmsman of Edo socio-political space, the state has journeyed on a steady path of developmental progression, with residents witnessing successive execution of life-transforming, impactful and people-oriented projects and programmes.
The governor has not only redefined governance but has also been able to evince his adeptness and expertise to deliver in every sector, thereby saving the state’s sinking economy, achieving infrastructural turnaround and re-positioning the state for industrial boom.
The new face of Edo State, characterized by unprecedented development, massive infrastructural transformation, revolutionary economic expansion and an upsurge of investors has re-positioned the state as ‘favourite hosts’ to almost every national event.
Most recently, the ‘heartbeat’ of Nigeria hosted the National Festival for Culture and Arts (NAFEST), which the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo attended. It also received a mammoth crowd of visitors who attended the Comptroller General’s Annual Conference of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS). The state is to host the 2020 National Sports Festival, which was postponed as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, among other hosting rights the state won as a result of its milestone achievement in infrastructural transformation.
To achieve the infrastructural turnaround in Edo, Governor Obaseki, as a first line of action identified different sectors that required transformation, designing and developing system solutions, with attendant models for evaluation and execution.
The success of this systemic approach is evident in the massive improvements recorded in social welfare, economic growth, governance, infrastructural projects and sustainable development across various facets of the state.
The Governor Obaseki-led government has urban renewal as one of its key development thrusts. Since the start of the administration, there have been massive construction of roads, reclaiming of gully erosion sites, construction of parks and the restoration of sanity to public places across the state.
The milestone achievements by the governor’s administration are traceable to his resolve to overhaul road infrastructure across the state, open up new towns, enhance access to rural areas and consolidate on his administration’s urban renewal vision.
The governor has in last three years embarked on road construction projects in each of the 192 wards in the 18 LGAs of the state, with each of these roads either completed or in various stages of completion. So far, the state government has built over 800 roads, which stretch for about 2,000km. While the State’s Ministry of Infrastructure constructed about 300 roads, which stretch for 700km, the state under the various streams of the Edo State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR), constructed over 500 roads, spanning about 1,300km across the state.
According to Governor Obaseki, “This administration will not relent on our efforts at infrastructural renewal, industrialisation, and social development programmes which we are currently undertaking across the entire state. We are committed to fixing our roads, rebuilding schools, facilitating expansion of existing businesses and ensuring a vibrant, boisterous state that we will all be proud to be associated with.”
A major aspect of the governor’s infrastructure drive is the construction and renovation of public schools across the state, expected to complement investment in human capital development.
Over 80 percent of schools in the state, including conventional and technical institutions of learning, have been remodelled to reflect the governor’s commitment to build infrastructure in the quest to revive the state’s industrial sector.
So far, the state government has rebuilt over 250 schools and deployed bespoke technology in the classrooms. The net result is that over 300,000 children in public schools not only just go to school but now learn when in school.
Also, the Government Science and Technical College, has been remodelled to be become a center of excellence in technical education in the state. With its new state-of-the-art twin blocks, the school has resumed for a new academic session, while the state government has recruited new science and technology teachers to ensure that the school is top-rate.
The John Odigie-Oyegun Training Institute is one among several buildings constructed by the state government to boost infrastructural deficit in the state. The building provides conductive environment for civil servants and consolidates ongoing civil service reforms aimed at building a world-class workforce to drive seamless service delivery.
The training centre, a three-storey twin-building is fitted with large training rooms and latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) equipment. The Centre is designed with the capacity to host about 1000 people at a time and will host training programmes by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), amongst others.
Other features of the institute include two halls capable of holding 118 people each and seven training halls that will host 58 people each, a library, a sick bay, a cafeteria and 12 offices.
The governor also embarked on massive construction of new offices and secretariats for the workers, including the completion of the Blocks C and D in the Secretariat Complex with the Treasury Building, which was abandoned for over 40 years.
The redesigned workspaces, according to the governor would boost productivity, enhance work-life balance and streamline processes to deliver quality service at a faster and more reliable pace to Edo people.
The Emotan Gardens is an 1800-unit affordable housing estate developed by the state government through the Edo Development and Property Agency (EDPA) and Mixta Africa, a renowned property developer.
The estate sits on a 70-hectare in Upper Sokponba axis of Benin City and provides a range of housing options to subscribers. The estate is the first of its type in the state in the last 16 years after the state government overhauled the EDPA.
The Edo State judiciary also benefited from the infrastructural development of Governor Obaseki. The state government built the Judges’ Quarters to ensure that the welfare of members of the top brass of the judiciary is well catered for. The quarter is the first executive residence for Judges in the state and is located at Aiguobasimwin Road, within the GRA, which is the most secured neighbourhood in the state, lying close to the Government House and 4 Brigade Headquarters.
Also, the state built an Industrial Court, which was donated to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) to fast track the adjudication of industrial conflicts, to foster industrial harmony. Others include the construction of residence for the Chief Judge, High Court and Magistrate Court Complexes, among others.
The newly rebuilt Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium is a testament of the governor’s commitment to drive infrastructural revolution in the state and promote its aggressive sports development plan.
The world class stadium hosts an Olympic-standard swimming pool; new four-in-one tennis court and spectators’ stands; a two-storey secretariat; a squash court and spectator stand with a befitting secretariat; a single tennis court for finals with spectators stand; weightlifting and para-powerlifting hall, which is attached to the main bowl, and a new gymnasium hall for weightlifting, kickboxing and boxing, among other facilities.
To further broaden the scope of sports infrastructural development, the Obaseki-led state government embarked on the construction of 20 mini stadia with at least one stadium in each of the 18 local government areas. Five of these 20 mini stadia have been completed.
The Edo health sector also witnessed the massive infrastructural transformation of the Obaseki-led administration with the construction and reconstruction of 20 Primary Health Care centres across the 18 LGAs of the state, to provide for a robust healthcare package for Edo people no matter how dispersed they might be.
The health centers are equipped with adequate security, utilities, 24-hour electricity (using solar energy), provided with essential drugs and medical appliances as well as a complement of Information technology gadgets for telemedicine.
In order to sustain a robust monitoring and contact tracing system to handle infectious diseases in the state, the state completed a Lassa Fever Isolation center at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin City, while another of such facility is being built at the Auchi General Hospital. Also, the Edo Specialist Hospital has been opened to the public and is offering bespoke services to Edo people, even as more private medical enterprises are sprouting on the back of reforms to make Edo a destination for health tourism.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the state has acquired 280-bed isolation capacity, 28 ventilators, 10 Intensive Care Units (ICUs), located at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital Benin, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Irrua Specialist Hospital and the Auchi General Hospital, and is setting up 100 screening centres across the state to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).