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May 26, 2024

Edo 2024: Your involvement in shaping policy, crucial than ever, Ighodalo tells Nigerian diaspora

Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the September 21 governorship election in Edo State, Dr Asue Ighodalo, has urged Nigerians in diaspora to be involved in national discourse, noting that their participation in shaping policy and political dialogue is more crucial than ever.

Ighodalo, on Saturday night dazzled like a million stars as a Guest Speaker at the 3rd Annual Convention of the Esan Peoples Congress (EPC), in Austin, Texas, USA.

Ighodalo, who delivered his speech via Zoom, held the audience spellbound as he did justice to ‘The Value of Participation of Nigerians in Diaspora in Nigerian Political Affairs.’

While commending all the participants for the “clear demonstration of your love of motherland, a love we all share and about which I am very passionate,” Ighodalo tendered his unreserved apologies for the inability to be present physically. He was, however, grateful that “technology has come to the rescue and I could not be happier or more proud at this rare opportunity to address such an august body.” He went on to describe his topic as “crucial and timely,” just as it was “weighty and important.”

Ighodalo asserted that “Nigerian diaspora remains one of the most vibrant in the world and represents a vast reservoir of skill, experience, and capital. Across the globe, brilliant hardworking Nigerians are making significant contributions to sectors as varied as medicine, information technology, academia, and finance,” and that it has “a pivotal role to play in the political landscape of Nigeria.”

He noted that while “the diaspora has contributed immensely to Nigeria’s socio-economic development through remittances that surpass foreign direct investment and aid, the potential to influence positive political changes remains largely untapped. In an era where governance and transparency are at the forefront of our national discourse, your involvement in shaping policy and political dialogue is more crucial than ever.”

Among other things, Ighodalo argued that “By engaging in policy advocacy, capacity building and development, we can leverage the diaspora’s exposure to global best practices, to influence reforms in governance, economic management, and public service delivery in Edo State. This could be done by way of think tanks and advisory boards as a platform to articulate and advocate for policies beneficial to both our state and its global citizens.”

He insisted that, “This can be achieved through training, mentorship programs, and by creating platforms that facilitate the exchange of ideas. Their global exposure and professional networks would enable them to introduce best practices and successful models from around the world, adapting them to fit local contexts. Moreover, these advisory boards could very effectively act as trusted liaisons between the government and international organisations, facilitating partnerships and attracting foreign investments.”

Unveiling his vision for the state, Ighodalo declared that, “Here in our beloved Edo State, the vision I hold for our future is deeply interconnected with the values we admire in our diaspora community. My administration’s vision to transform Edo State into a first-world economy is not just an aspiration but a detailed roadmap titled the ‘Pathway to Prosperity for All in Edo.’ This plan is designed to leverage the very qualities that have made you, our diaspora, successful on the global stage.”

He added that “The ‘Pathway to Prosperity’ initiative seeks to embody the principles of diligence, creativity, and resilience that are prevalent in our diaspora. By creating an environment where these traits are not only welcomed but also fundamentally integrated into our governance model, we aim to deepen the foundational reforms of the last several years to catapult our state into unprecedented economic growth and social development.”

Ighodalo listed the key strategic initiatives to include: Security, Growing Our Economy, Innovation and Technology, Education and Skill Development, Infrastructure Development, Healthcare Reform and Good Governance and Transparency.

He declared that, “Together, these initiatives form a cohesive strategy aimed at transforming Edo State into a model of prosperity and good governance, driven by innovation, education, infrastructure, healthcare, and transparency. This holistic approach promises not only to enhance the economic and social fabric of our state but also to ensure that the benefits of development are shared equitably among all Edo citizens.

“Permit me to quote here from the remarks I made at my declaration earlier this year in Benin, and I quote: ‘Today, I can tell you that I see a pathway to prosperity for our people and our dear state. I see a path to lifting the highest number of people into prosperity by implementing the most comprehensive social welfare program ever witnessed in south-south Nigeria. I see a path to making Edo State the safest state to live and work. I see a path to educating primary and secondary school children and preparing them for the world of work so that they become assets that employers of labour from all around the world will compete to employ. I see a path to funding and building the road networks that will open up our state and support the transition of our state economy from a third-world economy to a first-world economy’.”

Ighodalo then invited the august participants to join him in realising his vision for Edo State, saying “Come with me as we embark on this ambitious journey to transform Edo State, your involvement, inspired by your successes abroad, is not just desired but essential. The pathway we envision is paved with the values you uphold, the integrity you embody, and the excellence you pursue.

“I call on all of you therefore to let us join hands to build an Edo State that we can all be proud of, an Edo State that stands as a model of prosperity and good governance, mirroring the very essence of the Nigerian spirit that thrives across the world,” Ighodalo declared.

During the question and answer session moderated by Barr. Chris Ekoh of Ekoh Law Firm, Houston, Ighodalo dealt succinctly with all the questions ranging from Benin-Auchi Road to security to dealing with corruption and infrastructure to the admiration of all the participants who ended the zoom appearance with a loud and sustained applause.