• Tony Igele

Edo Feeling Obaseki's Governance

Anyone who knows how rowdy Osadebey Avenue, the seat of power in Edo State, was when the immediate past governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was in power and how it is today, will know that the leadership style of Governor Godwin Obaseki is quite different from that of his predecessor. Today, the Government House, Benin-City is as quiet as a grave yard and any body found loitering around may even be arrested unless he proves he is there for genuine reasons. Party leaders no longer throng the Government House unless on the invitation of the governor.

They have learnt to play politics in their various wards. But amid the serene atmosphere, a lot is happening in the state in terms of the presence of government. Inside the Government House, you will observe that the mechanics’ workshop, which had been abandoned since the days of military administration in the state, is bubbling with activities. Obaseki has contracted the repairs of all government abandoned vehicles and those in bad state to mechanics for repairs.

As of the time of filing this report, over 50 vehicles have been fixed by women mechanics to which the contract was awarded. Speaking during the graduation of 25 female mechanics in Benin-City, the governor had noted that female drivers and mechanics would be encouraged to study at the Benin Technical College after the college would have been revamped by government. He said: “I want to throw an offer to you today.

In Government House, we have a workshop. We would like you to come and take a look at it and also see if you can take over maintenance of the vehicles in Government House. We are going to partner with the Lady Mechanic Initiative, a non-governmental organization, to promote youth employment in line with our electioneering campaign promises”. Mrs Sandra Aguebor, the founder and coordinator of the female mechanic initiative, told Obaseki that the girls had the passion to work and assured that they will not disappoint; as it is today, they have not disappointed.

Obaseki has equally received kudos in the way he handled the collection of government revenues. Before now, the Edo government had negative publicity due to the activities of several revenue collectors in the state who did nothing but to extort members of the public. Oshiomhole did his best to curb their activities to no avail.

However, on the 31st of December, Obaseki announced the banning of all forms of revenue collection by these youths, an indication that it’s a listening government. The state government intends to introduce a civil way of collection of revenue such as to avoid embarrassing members of the public and double taxation. The fear, however, is that most of the youths whose jobs were terminated may go into crime. But Obaseki has plans for them.

We found that the state government has commenced the compilation of the names of these youths including those who have been jobless over the years with a view to engaging them. Their biometrics are also being collected because Edoconnect gathered that the state government intends to have a pool of over ten thousand youths who will be trained in traffic management and sanitation officials under the new regime of Environmental Sanitation and Waste Management.

As part of the plans to further engage youths, the state government intends to purchase one hundred hectares of land in the 18 local government areas which will be cleared and prepared by government for youths. It was learnt that agricultural equipment are already being imported while seeds will be provided for them to go into large scale farming. Obaseki has made it clear that the days of thuggery are over in the state.

It would be recalled that Oshiomhole once said Edo people will remember him for taking some stringent decisions in the state but hinted that Obaseki will take more stringent decisions capable of swallowing those made by him. And it is obvious that he has the political will to take decisions that will take the state to the next level from all indications.

People will observe less tension in the state currently and that is attributed to the style of this governor.

In preparing the 2017 budget, Obaseki constituted a budget committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, and membership drawn from the executive arm and the state Assembly. So what is currently before the House for approval is a budget prepared by both arms. The development, according to analysts, will checkmate any form of tension that may arise between the two arms over the budget. It is expected that the budget will receive accelerated approval from the lawmakers. Besides the budget, Obaseki has made it clear that leaders of his party, the All Progressives Congress, will pick those to be appointed by him.

He therefore urged those who want appointments to go to their various wards to solicit support if they are good enough. This is a clear departure from what was on ground where the governor and some leaders of the party make decisions on who should be Commissioner or Special Adviser. The idea is to give party leaders at the grassroots a sense of belonging and to also give appointments to those who are grassroots leaders and not just leaders in the state capital.

Obaseki is not going to appoint Special Advisers who are not known in their wards, as nomination of persons will be approved by ward leaders except for some technical personnel who will be specially picked as a result of their skills. Sunday Vanguard learnt that the governor intends to appoint 200 SAs and 192 of them will come from the 192 wards of the state. His intention is to identify the authentic political leaders at the grass roots which will help him deepen the policies of the APC-led government at that level. Obaseki believes that annihilating PDP in the state should not just be the normal political warfare in cities but wants to uproot the party from the grass roots by empowering those grass roots leaders, incorporating them into the running of government and creating employment opportunities for them.

And to ensure that his party, the APC, is carried along in the execution of government policies, the governor briefs party leaders every week. In December 2016, he went round the three senatorial districts of Edo, explaining to party leaders his plans and policies for the people. To even build a party that will help disseminate the policies of government direct to the people both in urban and rural areas,

Sunday Vanguard learnt of plans by Obaseki, through donations from APC leaders from the state and outside, to acquire a befitting party’s secretariat in Benin-City. The party will be equipped with state, of-the-art communication gadgets so that people at the urban areas will always be in touch with those in the rural areas. This is to ensure that every Edo indigene understands what is happening in government and can easily make contributions through party offices.

Relief has also come to road users in the Government Reservation Area (GRA) in Benin- City, as the administration has commenced repairs of all the bad roads in the area. Work is currently going on at Ugbor Road, Akhiobare, Oni, Jemide, Giwa Amu and other areas within the GRA. Obaseki’s bulldozers are roaring in the area to the admiration of residents. And with the harmonious working relationship the team former Governor Oshiomhole put together, including Obaseki, Shaibu and Osarodion Ogie (SSG), Edo can be said to be heading to the next level after the solid foundation for development build by Oshiomhole.

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