… says victory at poll has restored faith in democracy
… emphasises ‘unity template’ to drive inclusive growth
By Ikhili Ebalu, Benin City
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, have been sworn-in for a second term in office, with the governor committing to deepening reforms and diversifying the state’s economy to consolidate on progress recorded in his first term in office.
The inauguration, which held at the Tennis Court of the reconstructed Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, had in attendance President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Edobor Iyamu and Governors of Sokoto, Delta and Bayelsa States, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and Duoye Diri respectively.
Others present include National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus; Vice Chairman of PDP South-south, Chief Dan Orbih; former Minister of Works, Mike Onolememe; Speaker Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA), Marcus Onobun; Chief Judge of Edo State, Esther Edigin and the Commissioner of Police Edo State, Johnson Kokumo, among others.
Governor Obaseki said his victory in the September 19 governorship election is a testimony to the “awesome power of God Almighty and the indomitable will and determination of the great people of Edo State.”
According to him, “The good people of Edo State spoke unequivocally through the ballot on September 19th and have entrusted us with the task of steering our state for another four years.
“I am encouraged by the trust you have bestowed on us and grateful for your belief in my leadership and my capacity to continue piloting the affairs of this great state.”
The governor said that his re-election marks a restoration of hope in democracy in Nigeria and across the globe in the face of unprecedented challenges that have beset the world.
“The world is currently going through unprecedented challenges, which is taking its toll on our collective wellbeing and demanding so much from the socio-economic and political structures that hold us together.
“We are battling a rampaging pandemic, COVID-19, which has claimed more than one million lives globally. It has shut down the economies of world superpowers, overwhelmed some of the best healthcare systems and has redefined the way we work, live and relate as human beings.
“On the other hand, democracy and participatory government, is facing a crisis of confidence locally and globally. We are compelled, now and again, to reassess our choices in the light of the unfolding intrigues, paradoxes and conflicts that have come to characterize our political reality as people in the free world.
“As a result, the liberties, which democracy offers and which generations have taken for granted, are now being questioned. These have caused many to reevaluate the capacity of democracy to regulate the affairs of men and deliver freedom, equality and good governance.
“It is therefore gratifying that Edo is taking the lead in this onerous task of restoring faith in democracy in Nigeria and the entire globe.”
Noting that his second term was a time to heal and develop a template to foster inclusive growth and development, he said, “This is the time to heal.
We are kith and kin with a common destiny. Let us now stop dwelling on the past. It is now time to take our collective destinies in our own hands as Edo people and commence the arduous task of Making Edo Great Again (MEGA).
“Together, as a people propelled by a common zeal in pursuit of progress and advancement, there is nothing that we cannot overcome if we have a consensus on how to move our state forward. What we need is what I call a unity template, with which to overcome our challenges.
“The unity template has the ability to help us respond to the economic consequences of the pandemic, to deal with our challenges of insecurity and underdevelopment and to put us on a path to Making Edo Great Again (MEGA).”
He added that it was pertinent to rekindle the social contract between the government and the people, noting that it would require trust and reciprocity between government and the people to solve society’s problems.
According to him, “Let me at this juncture comment on the false dichotomy between what belongs to the people and what belongs to the government. We must realize that what belongs to the government belongs to the people and vice versa. It is only by bridging this dichotomy that we can deal with the realities and challenges that we face in our society today.
“This gulf also manifests in the apathy to civic participation and protection of government assets. Why should we have problems getting our people to pay taxes to a government who they voted for? Government does not have money of its own. The money the government utilizes to provide service and assets for its people is actually the peoples’ money.
“What we guarantee you, my dear people of Edo State, is that we will provide value for your money (tax revenues) by utilizing it judiciously, transparently and with accountability.”
He said that in the next four years, government policies, programmes and reforms would be to “grow our Social Sector by constantly improving our Education, Healthcare System, provision of social security and safety nets, caring for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged in our state, and rapidly develop our critical energy, housing, digital and road Infrastructure, which provides a framework to drive inclusive growth.”
He also pledged to “build the economy and drive industrialization, trade and investment, to solidify our state’s status as the choice investment destination in the country; pursue the clean and green Edo initiative and sustaining our campaign to plant trees and restore the forest and enshrine peace amongst Edo people and improve the general security to lives and property within the state, by working closely with all religious, traditional and community stakeholders.”
Obaseki added, “We have identified key initiatives that will drive public service reforms over the next twelve months by accelerating capacity building; finding new ways of working and operationalizing the Civil Service Training Centre as a centre of excellence in training public servants.
“One key project required for the orderly development and growth in our state is a master plan. We have set the modalities to deliver a 30-year development masterplan, which will provide future governments with necessary tools, guidelines and milestones for development planning.
“My appreciation goes to all our traditional leaders led by his Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin.
“I am grateful to our youths, civil servants, traders, women, professional bodies, artisans, among others, for your unalloyed commitment and loyalty. We will continue to put you first as we continue on this journey of Making Edo Great Again (MEGA). I want to single out for special appreciation all Edo people in the Diaspora – in Nigeria and overseas. Your support will not be in vain.”
“I am grateful to my family – the Ogbeide-Oyo Obaseki and Gbinigie families. This victory is the prize and vindication for family values that was bequeathed to me by you,” the governor added.