For many, the time has come for Governor Godwin Obaseki to compensate and repay the Edo people for the huge sacrifices they made to re-elect him for a second term of a four-year constitutional period in office.
The road to Dennis Osadebay Avenue, the Edo State seat of power, was never an easy ride; it was a long bumpy journey characterized by several months of rancorous disputes.
Luckily, the coast became clear for the governor to consolidate on his first term achievements after he polled 307,955 votes to defeat his main rival, Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who got 223,619 votes in the contest at the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the State.
The Governor and his deputy’s second term officially commenced following the signing of the oath of office administered by the former Chief Judge of Edo State, Esther Edigin, during the swearing-in ceremony on November 12, 2021.
Obaseki, in his inaugural speech, said his administration would be committed to deepening reforms and diversifying the state’s economy to consolidate on the progress recorded in his first term in office.
“In the next four years, government policies, programs, 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,” Obaseki said.
He also promised 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 among Edo people and improve the general security of lives and property within the state, by working closely with all religious, traditional and community stakeholders.”
The governor further said that his re-election marks the restoration of hope in democracy in Nigeria and across the globe in the face of unprecedented challenges that have beset the world, adding that his second term was a time to heal and develop a template to foster inclusive growth and development.
“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 into 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.
Assessment of performance of employees, especially elected officials, to track set goals and maintain good performance culture on a yearly basis has become a method adopted by citizens to review and rate achievements.
For Mike Ewansiha, a Benin resident, “It is still too early to read his scorecard. I am not going to be dismissive of his contributions nor am I going to give him a hallelujah chorus yet. He didn’t set up his cabinet early enough and for whatever reasons, we cannot read his scorecard. So, now that he has his cabinet, perhaps, he would like to cover lost ground in the coming years.
“The paucity or deficit of funds may have affected his performance in the last year. The Federal Government takes all the monies and leaves the state with little or no money.”
Among some of his administration’s projects which span across infrastructure, health, security, youth empowerment are the construction of the high court complex buildings, John Odigie-Oyegun civil service training center, and the launch of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) development fund worth N2bn to support entrepreneurs in the state which was in collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BOI).
Also, the ongoing construction of the Benin Central Park as well as Ekehuan-Ugbiokho road, completion of the Edo State Secretariat complex, Block C and Block D, Emotan Garden housing units, and the adoption of a technology-based Edo Revenue Administration System (ERAS) to block leakages and enhance transparency in revenue collection.
To end medical tourism in the state, boost human capacity development through the promotion of health education, and, ultimately, improve the health sector to meet global standards, the governor upgraded the facilities of the Edo State College of Nursing Sciences in Benin City for the training of nurses and midwives.
The present administration’s fight against COVID-19 cannot go unnoticed, as well as efforts to address the burden of out-of-pocket health expenditures with the launch of the Edo State Health Insurance Scheme to offer quality and affordable health care services for citizens.
In line with the government’s commitment to ensuring durable infrastructure to improve livelihoods, the Obaseki-led government recently earmarked 91 roads for repairs and rehabilitation across the three senatorial districts of the state namely Edo south, Edo Central, and Edo North senatorial districts.
Worried about the rising insecurity, his administration unveiled a vigilante network to complement the efforts of the federal security agencies in checking crime and criminality in the state.
Ewansiha commended the administration’s effort to improve security in the urban area but yearned for it to be extended to rural areas, saying “If you travel to rural areas, especially between Benin and Ehor road, you will notice that nothing has happened on that axis. So, that area needs greater attention”.
But, Peter Igbinigie, Edo State publicity secretary of the All Progressive Congress (APC) disagreed with some of the governor’s projects, opining that “We have been subjected to untold hardships as a result of this government. We have projects that exist on paper which as of today there is nothing to show on the ground.
“What we have here in Edo, today replicates what one would call a government that doesn’t have direction. There is no ongoing project that will affect the lives of the Edo people. No single contractor is on-site carrying out the business of government.”
Responding, Chris Nehikhare, Edo State publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said: “It is obvious; the resetting Edo Agenda is causing serious discomfort for APC.
“Edo people believe in the vision of Governor Obaseki. Over the last 12 months, he has not only shown capacity in the management of the resources and finances of the state but in the design of a master plan that will become a road map to a prosperous future.
Nehikhare assured that Governor Godwin Obaseki and the PDP would continue to deliver on good governance.
A lot of distractions might have come his way in the past 12 months but the Governor, dubbed “wake and see”, seems undeterred in the face of adversity and has continued to steer the sheep to achieve more progress and rekindle the social contract between the government and the people.
Giving credence, Charles Idahosa at a recent briefing admitted that the topmost delivery that Edo people know the governor for is missing in the first year of his second term administration in office owing to “distractions” within the party.
“The truth is that, when we were running from scorpions, we didn’t know fully that we were bedding with snakes. Now, the stakes are higher, integrity is at stake for the governor and those of us that urged him to move and moved with him to PDP.
“Edo issues would have been long resolved like Benue and Sokoto States if not for the in-house crisis that is destabilizing Governor Obaseki. His first four years were action. You will all agree with me that in this first year, he has been very slow because he is completely distracted. He has not been able to put his house together because of these distractions,” Idahosa said.
Robert Osarodion, an inhabitant of the state said, “We gave him the mandate to lead the people to prosperity; our issues should be his number one priority and not solely on party affairs. At this juncture, It is pertinent to remind him to kick off and fast-track the ongoing construction of many dilapidated roads in the Benin metropolis.