Obaseki grooming next generation of tech experts at Edo Innovation Hub

SPECIAL REPORT

By Dapo Akinrefon

DURING his first term, Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki earned the name:  “Wake and See Governor” because he preferred to work and deliver infrastructural projects without prior fanfare or needless rhetoric.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Governor Obaseki has carved his name in gold in Edo State and will be remembered for so many things. Having performed beyond the expectations of his admirers and foes, the governor has taken governance to another level.

Prior to becoming the Edo State governor, Obaseki served as the Chairman of the Economic and Strategy Team, EST. In that capacity, he pioneered a number of policy reforms that saw the state restructure its public finance, secure funding for infrastructure and improve the business environment to attract investment in power, agriculture and other critical sectors.

 Besides, Obaseki was also instrumental in attracting the Edo-Azura power project, with support from World Bank to the state. Upon assuming duty as the governor, he has enacted projects with the aim of making the state an investment hub. Asides from his infrastructural projects, he enacted a number of social development initiatives.

In all sectors of the economy of the state, Obaseki has raised the bar. In addition to this, he has vigorously pushed Edo State as a viable investment destination. In January 2018, his administration established the Edo State Investment Promotion Office, ESIPO, to facilitate investments and stakeholders engagements so as to improve the business environment in the state.

Sensing the need to tackle human trafficking and illegal migration, the governor has been in the forefront of nipping the menace in the bud as he disclosed that his administration used job creation initiatives and entrepreneurship programmes to address illegal migration and human trafficking among youths in the state.

Obaseki said his administration would sustain efforts at ensuring that Edo youths were adequately empowered to live life to the fullest.

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Aside from tackling human trafficking and illegal migration, the governor has launched a roadmap to meet its 30-year development plan for the future of the state by 2050. Many observers in the state admire Obaseki’s bold moves despite a decline in crude oil revenues, reduction in federal allocation to states, economic downturn and unstable foreign exchange rates and other challenges that were occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. With this plan, the governor was optimistic that there is a bright future ahead for Edo State.

Speaking during the unveiling, Obaseki said: “What we have today is a defining moment. We cannot make such mistakes again after 30 years. We believe that Nigeria and Edo State have a bright future despite all these challenges. It is possible that our dreams will become reality because we have strategies that will help us achieve our dreams. So, today, we are going to be talking and launching the Edo State 30 year’s development plan.”

In the sports sector, the governor remodelled the popular Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City by ensuring it meets up to the world and  Olympic standards by equipping it with state-of-the-art facilities. The imprint of the Obaseki administration in the civil service has also earned him some accolades.  Prior to his emergence as governor, Edo State was known for the poor treatment of its workers and its pensioners.

The sight of workers and pensioners regularly protesting over accrued benefits was a notable fact that presently looks like a long time ago. Upon taking the reins of power, his administration paid and cleared all the outstanding pension arrears for over 3,000 pensioners, who were being owed arrears of over many months and years. In some cases up to 13 years. As a relief to many recipients, the state government has commenced the payment of statutory gratuity after harmonisation thereof.

Also, the government is paying the requisite death benefits to families and relevant beneficiaries of the deceased state workers. Obaseki also made education as one his selling points with the flagship of the government’s intervention in education known as the EDOBEST initiative.

The Edo-BEST initiative, which means Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation, Edo-BEST, is a programme focused on reforming the education sector that targets 1,500 public primary and junior secondary schools; 15,000 government teachers and 300,000 pupils.

 The many achievements recorded by the administration has earned him the Vanguard’s Governor of the Year Award.

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