By Kede Aihie
Nigeria has a myriad of challenges, including facing its worst recession in 25 years, which has taken a toll on majority of 193 million Nigerians (pop est. NBS). Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, in his book, Flashes of Thought, says ‘government’s job is to achieve happiness for people.
There is a huge disconnect between the federal and state governments in policy matters, economic competitiveness and growth. Edo State is one of two (Lagos State) sub national in Africa to get World Bank direct budget support, for improvement of management of public resources in implementing an infrastructure-oriented development.
World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2017 Report highlights challenges in power, infrastructure and inefficient bureaucracy in Nigeria. Governor Godwin Obaseki says he is committed to improving the lives of the Edo people by providing additional infrastructure, create new jobs, ensure that there is security and ensure Edo State citizens live in happiness.
Governor Obaseki seems to buck the trend following his 100 days in office, in which he’s had a packed agenda. He set the stage for important policy pronouncements by banning private collection of taxes as well as forwarding a bill to the State House of Assembly to criminalise land grabbing. He has set up committees to start reforms in the agriculture sector, which is expected to create about 80,000 agricultural jobs; a seven- member committee to establish GELEGELE as an economic and industrial hub in Nigeria; engaged services of 15 PENSION fund administrators with the responsibility of enrolling employees in the state public service pension scheme; inaugurated a six man joint development committee with SIEMENS to undertake activities that will drive entrepreneurial initiative in Edo State.
If that is not enough, he has set out plans to rebuild Benin Technical College to increase the training of skilled technical manpower. The government has ambitious plans to expand, but here, too, infrastructure deficiencies are constraining growth. Toaddress this, the governor’s 2017 budget is very bullish as has set aside N22.3billion for infrastructure, development and upgrade. He has also increased the government capital expenditure of the Judiciary from N280 million to N1.8 billion (for the improvement of court infrastructure) and promised to facilitate location of an Industrial Court in Benin City.
Nigeria spends over N630 billion annually on food importations. Obaseki recently led a delegation to China, with the aim of developing, Edo State’s Agro Industrial Park. President of Diageo Africa, a partner with Guinness Nigeria, John O’Keeffe, in his recent visit to Governor Obaseki, harped on commitment, innovation and local raw material sourcing. The state government has concluded plans to collaborate with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), for capacity training of its workers.
As power supply in Nigeria plummets, Governor Obaseki’s government plan to partner with Chevron to utilise the huge gas reserve in Edo state to electrify and industrialise Nigeria. The state government aim to partner with energy giant SIEMENS to establish a gas powered turbine that will actualise the generation of 1,000 megawatts of electricity within the next 24 months. In addition,
Edo state government is actively supporting the Azura power project, which will be ready by the end of Q3 2017.
With Governor Obaseki’s pledge to build on the legacies of his immediate predecessors, Adams Oshiomhole and Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, Edo State’s future looks bright.
By Kede Aihie