EDO…LETS GO FURTHER TOGETHER
Being the Speech and Manifesto delivered by Mr Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki at the official flag off APC campaign for Edo Governorship election. July 16, 2016, Ogbe Stadium Benin City.
It is with immense gratitude to God Almighty and delight that I welcome you all to this momentous occasion of the flag off of the APC gubernatorial campaign towards the September 10, 2016 election. I feel particularly honoured by the presence so many dignatories, family, friends, associates and our great party faithfuls. Let me specially salute, the political colossus of our time, a first grade democrat, and leader of leaders, the leader of our great party the APC, His Excellency, Senator (Alhaji) Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaba of Bogu, and the Asiwaju of Yorubaland . Let me also salute a distinguished son of Edo and former Governor, a patriot, a seasoned administrator our father, His Excellency Chief John Odigie Oyegun, the highly progressive minded national Chairman of our great party.
Let me salute all the brave men and women who made it possible for me to stand before you today as the candidate of our great party, the All Progressive Congress (APC). I am most grateful to my then co-aspirants for demonstrating that the fortunes of our party are superior to individual interests. I wish to assure each one of them and indeed, all members of our great party that the flag of APC in Edo State will continue to fly above all else and it will be unequalled in terms public acceptability, organizational cohesion, empowerment and party loyalty.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I open this speech today with the words of a distinguished political philosopher Sir Thomas Paine, when he said the “mind once enlightened cannot become dark”. A visionary leader creates a new dawn, working with passion, insight and boldness; he sets forth a rhythm that is profound enough to compel his lieutenants to latch on the powerful flow of passion. The totality of the transformation we have witnessed in the last seven and a half years spans all facets of development of the State. We have witnessed the development of a solid foundation- policy transformation, infrastructural transformation and most importantly, the first inclusive development framework of Edo State. This ten year framework is a promise and guarantee of sustainable development and continued progress of the State. All these could have only proceeded from visionary leadership of our Comrade Governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.
Comrade Oshiomhole is a man of immeasurable passion and imagination. He is a man of boundless energy with a good heart. He is a man whose pedigree is completely interwoven with the welfare of the ordinary citizen and this he brought to bear as Governor of Edo State. He inspires and fires the passion and energy of others and brings out the best from their inner strength and resources. Comrade, I salute you. You have today laid a solid foundation for us to build on. Let me clearly say to you Sir, that your legacy as Governor of Edo State will long be cherished and adored!
I led a team of highly dedicated professionals and technocrats in the progressive government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as Chairman, Edo State Economic Team for about eight years running. My sole motivation was to give back to my home State having benefited immensely from the best of education, training and discipline that my State can offer. I have trained and worked in other parts of Nigeria and abroad. I have also helped state governments grow their economies and provided strategic services for corporate bodies to grow their businesses while creating opportunities for employment and manpower development. I have no doubt that the experiences garnered in the private and public sector will help me successfully navigate the State through the current economic challenges. Having worked closely with the Comrade Governor, developing plans, formulating policies and programmes, and implementing same, I am deeply familiar with what has been accomplished and what has been left undone. I am familiar with successes, prospects and challenges!
As many of us would recall that the Administration of Comrade Oshiomhole inherited an Edo State which had been made comatose by a decade of mismanagement, bad policies, failed promises, ruined infrastructure and hopelessness.
But in the face of these challenges, the administration dared to envision an Edo state that will become a leading economic centre in Nigeria where the people live in dignity, powered by a Government that is responsive to their needs. Today, we are proud that Edo stands out as a success story. We will build on that success and continue to live up to the metaphor of our state – The heart beat of Nigeria.
With discipline, we have been able to manage the finances of Edo State better; we have involved people and ensured that there is transparency in government; we have improved service delivery to our people through the use of ICT and motivated the civil service.
Some of the results of these internal reforms are evidenced by several successful projects which this government has executed – most of which have been completed today. It is evident that our improved Public Financial Management reforms program has ensured that Edo State remains one of the few States in Nigeria that is still able to pay salaries to civil servants, pensions and still meet the financial obligations to all our contractors.
The Oshiomhole administration undertook one of the greatest revolutions in Education in the recent history of Nigeria by reconstructing and rebuilding over 50% of primary school infrastructure and over 30% of our secondary school infrastructure within a space of 7 years. We can all bear witness to this Red Roof Revolution.
Almost 1,000Km of roads have been constructed statewide, including those roads past governments claimed were plagued by marine spirits (mami water) at Teachers House, Uwelu, Asoro, Queen Ede just to name a few.
The ongoing Storm water drainage project was the answer to flooding challenges created by decades of poor urban planning by past governments.
In a couple of months, the new 200 bed wing of the central hospital would make Edo State home to one of the most advanced accident and emergency units in Nigeria.
As a result of the reforms in governance and improvement in infrastructure undertaken by the current administration, Edo State is now poised to be a hub for investment in Nigeria. This is obvious from the close to $2 billion investments which have come in from the Azura Power Plant in Ihovbor/Orhior/ Idunmowina Communities in Uhunwode LGA; Over $1 Billion is being invested in a 6 Million MT cement factory in Estako East LGA by the Dangote Group; Fresh investments by Rubber Estate of Nigeria Ltd (RENL) and Presco Plc in massive Rubber plantations and processing factories in Orhionmwon LGA
As you know, electricity and cement are some of the key building blocks for industrialization and job creation. These investment portend a lot hope for jobs and social stability of Edo State.
However all these strides need to be consciously strengthened and entrenched.
In the face of the new economic challenge we face, we need leadership with fresh and original ideas to take on these new challenges, so that we can build on and deepen the successes of the current administration. There is only one course of action- we must be courageous and determined, we must build on and extend the successes of the current administration to achieve the aspirations of Edo people.
I stand before you today on the giant shoulders of the success of the Comrade Governor. Over the last seven and half years we have transformed Edo State and achieved what was said to be impossible, however the Edo Project is still a work in progress and we are at the most delicate part of this journey.
We cannot afford any reversals or slowdown in the pace of the achievements we have made to date. There is a lot more that still has to be done- we still have to construct thousands of kilometers of road into rural communities and farms; scores of schools still need to be renovated; we need to further strengthen our service delivery to our people by training and equipping our civil service; we need to address the issue of massive unemployment especially amongst our youths by providing sustainable jobs; we need to give our people more and better access to healthcare if fact there is still so much more to be done.
It will be a huge risk for all of us if we revert political power to those who lack deep understanding of how to link the achievements of the last 7 years with the current situation in Nigeria . What Edo State needs today is someone who has the capacity to raise and access the investments required to build on the past in order to realize the vision.
What Edo needs today is a leader who in addition to political sagacity, has the managerial and intellectual experience to manage the State of Affairs in the difficult and precarious situation we find ourselves.
Focus on Job Creation
Within four years, we will create over 200,000 new jobs across the state through Agriculture, Entrepreneurship Schemes, Attracting Investments for the development of Industries and Technical & Vocational Skills Development. We will publish a template to be jointly used by the public and the civil society to track the achievement of this objective.
In line with the popular aphorism that states give a man fish and you feed him for a day, but when you teach a man how to fish, you feed him forever, therefore our agricultural development model will reposition agriculture from being subsistent farming or a way of life to Agriculture as business. Many Edo people will generate wealth by keying into our value chain development of Oil Palm, Cassava, Cocoa, Grains, Rubber, Fruits and Vegetables, we will create over 150,000 jobs within the next 4 years under a farm ownership and management model or out-growers’ scheme.
Through the provision of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Loans at single digit interest rates, we will encourage micro and small businesses to grow, medium enterprises will become large companies on the long run. This will create over 50,000 jobs as we intend to support over 20,000 MSMEs in the next 4 years.
We will make it a matter of state policy to attract investments to our Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) Institutions on a sustainable basis across the state to specialise in areas for which they are best aligned including Agriculture, Engineering, Building Technology, Fabrication, Hospitality & Food Sciences, Furniture & Wood Joinery, and ICT. Each Institution will achieve the highest Nigerian and International accreditation and will be sufficiently staffed. Recognising the role of technical and vocational skills in industries, our industrialisation policy will ensure Local Economic Empowerment of Edo people through contracting and staffing. Our Government will link technical education and skills acquisition to industrialization trajectory of the state, this means that our investment in the area of technical education will be driven by the needs of industries, economy and relevance of programmes.
Development of Industries
Currently the electricity demand in Edo State is over 450 mega watts but the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) is rationing about 150 mega watts of electricity between the four states it serves. We want to generate 20% of Nigeria’s electricity from plants sited in Edo State, so we will attract more investments in large and small scale electricity generation and working with the BEDC, we will ensure that more power is available for domestic and industrial use. We will also ensure that areas not previously connected will be linked with the electricity grid. Excess generation will be sold to the national grid.
There is a saying that “the rain produces abundance wherever it falls”.
We will provide the enabling environment for women to achieve their highest potential by taking our women empowerment initiative beyond the phase of empowering women. We will empower society as a whole through the women because when we strengthen women we are empowering our domestic economy. We will advance government services when women occupy leadership positions.
Specifically, we will:
Launch development projects under the leadership of women;
Improve access to low interest rate financing for Women-in-Business;
We will develop over 20,000 affordable modern shops across the state by renovating existing markets and developing new ones under Public-Private Partnerships (PPP);
We will also ensure that our women’s health indices improve through adequate medical infrastructure, health care services and health care subsidies.
We will ensure at least 35% women representation in our broad based government across board.
In addition to providing access to Medium and Small Scale Enterprises financing for our young entrepreneurs, we will focus on the development of our youths through investments in sports, arts and crafts. Our key target will be to link these talents with resources to become globally competitive and access to markets to unlock their inherent potentials.
Civil Service Reforms
I, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, this day the 16th of July 2016 pledge to build a strong Civil Service whose population will be proud to be identified as Edo State Civil Servants anywhere they find themselves. My Government will invest in training and capacity building of the civil service within a broad plan of refocusing the service to meet the 21st century governance demand.
We will consolidate the gains of the last seven and a half years by continuing the infrastructure revolution and urban renewal efforts. We will complete the improvement on the Education Infrastructure in the remaining schools and build new ones.
We will take our health care delivery to an international standard to reduce the need to travel abroad for health. Reports have it that Nigerians spends close to $2 billion in medical tourism to in India in 2015 alone.
As the Chief Security Officer of the state as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, we will entrench law and order across the state by cultivating a government that is alive to the need to the security of lives, property and investments while speeding up dispute resolution and strengthening the criminal justice system.
However, knowing full well that youth employment is a major remedy to security breaches, we will link our security approach to industrialization, youth training, skills acquisition, civil construction and our robust public works programme which is aimed at generating over 20,000 direct employment in the first three years.
More specifically, we will:
Formulate a comprehensive security strategy with inputs from all stakeholders with a view to making Edo State safe for the citizens and for investors.
Strengthen the Criminal Justice System with initiatives targeted at promoting a workable system for the interpretation of the law, determination of disputes and punishment of offenders;
We will support the police and other state-sponsored agents in various capacities and the infrastructure that supports them in the work they do.
Re-introduce mobile and assize courts to expedite the dispensation of justice in matters concerning small claims and misdemeanours and to reduce the strain on our courts of superior record.
Reinvent and incorporate Emergency Control Systems to secure the wellbeing of Edo people.
Bearing in mind our economic development initiatives which we will commence immediately upon assuming office and recognising the role of taxation in development, we will implement a pocket friendly tax regime to grow the tax base. In this regards I am quick to remember the words of an accomplished jurist Sandra-Day O’Conor, that no one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom. I have been a private sector businessman paying taxes to government and also as a senior official of government helping with taxation management, I know the pains of taxation and the benefits that comes with responsible management of tax proceeds. Our government shall commit itself to a transparent management of tax payers resources at all times
To this end, we have anchored our campaign on the establishment and furtherance of good governance through institutions, infrastructure, investments, enforcement of law and order, increased production capacity and socio-cultural development.
Our limits shall not be defined by the challenges of today but by the extent to which we are prepared to push forward our purpose, our commitment, our dreams, our practice and our strategies through hard work. Our success will depend ultimately on your willingness to give us your confidence and approval.
We are aware that reality in governance often throws up unexpected circumstances. Yet we state before you all today, that WE SHALL NOT FAIL even while setting these high standards.
Finally, we ask that you challenge us to deliver the extra ordinary. Broaden your vision of the Edo State that you want and it will become the Edo State that we will build together.
I stand before you committed to ensuring that the great work that has commenced and successes recorded in our efforts to build an economically viable, enduring and formidable Edo state is not only achieved but sustained so that we can provide a guaranteed future for our children, empowerment for our women, happy retirement days for Pensioners, access to capital for our farmers, improved conditions of service for the Civil Service, modern markets for our traders, skills development for our artisans, finance for small and medium scale businesses and deeper involvement of the Traditional Institutions in our collective development agenda.
As Governor, I a pledge to build an Edo State that has a strong and resilient economy; an economy that will provide jobs for our teeming youth and fulfill our social aspirations as a people. I will continue the infrastructure revolution and expand the urban renewal and housing efforts. I will focus on women and give them priority in education, health and entrepreneurial opportunities we will create.
Power, Housing, agriculture and agro processing; mining and extractive industries including petrochemicals; and information technology will form the bedrock on which Edo State would grow its economy and generate jobs and industries.
During my tour of the entire 18 Local Government Areas of the state before the APC primaries, I saw from the beautiful mountain view of Ososo in Akoko Edo through the busy Ilushin water side in Esan South East down to the ever green vegetation swaths of Ovia and Orhiomwon, I saw an Edo state that is so blessed by nature awaiting to be tapped for a sustained economic growth and development.
I saw an Edo state whose strategic location in the Nigerian federation is not only to unite the country, but to support the strategic intent of Nigeria which is to be a self sustaining independent country and by this, Edo State becomes the root through which this objective could be attained.
I see an Edo state whose viability as an economic hub is no longer in doubt, I see an Edo state whose capacity to recreate itself will be a matter of course, I see an Edo state whose educational institutions will become a reference point for others in the region and indeed in Nigeria just the way it used to be, I see an Edo state whose diaspora population will be an integral part of our development.
I envisioned an Edo state, whose youths will be the foundation of our development and the fulcrum of our mission, I see an Edo state where the quality of lives of our people will be far higher than the National average due to the direct impact of our economic policies.
Ladies and GentIemen, I see an Edo state whose famous cultures and traditions will be reinvigorated under my leadership to become part of our economic growth and harnessed to the greater benefit of our people. I see an Edo state where our people will leave in peace, equanimity and where social justice, equity and fairness shall prevail at all times.
I am opportuned to have a running mate who is a tested politician, a man of the people with deep connections wiith the masses, a dedicated party member and team player . Honourable Phillip Shaibu is a youth and whose enthusiasm and energy will bring enormous value to the task of governance. Together, we will work day and night as a team to ensure the realization of the collective aspirations of our people. I therefore request you all to support and pray for us as we contest for the office of Governor of Edo State. Join us to pray and support our resolve to ensure Edo State takes her pride of place as a strategic destination for investors and a state where its citizen live in peace, harmony and prosperity.
GOD BLESS THE GOOD PEOPLE OF EDO STATE
LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
OBA GHATO KPERE. ISE!
July 16, 2016, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
Edo, Let’s GO further, Together