How Oshiomhole grounded government house with his ‘oracle’ -
Governor Elect Godwin Obaseki and Governor Adams Oshiomhole, during the official handing over to Obaseki at Government House.
According to him, “ when I went to bed because I am used to reviewing memos, files and other decisions we have taken at night, I took this memo to work on it and I saw N1million for fuelling of vehicles. I started calculating, using my calculator and wondering how many vehicles we have in that department and what the vehicles were meant for. After making my calculations I came to the conclusion that even after fuelling the cars there, we would still have at least N500,000 balance. We cut cost where we can by prioritizing projects and decisions. Things are hard and the only way to surmount them is by cutting cost in governance and blocking all leakages”. While launching the SIFIMS, Obaseki said it would enhance and actualise his administration’s vision of a repositioned electronically driven Civil Service in the state.
While commending his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who paved the way for the introduction of E-Governance through the introduction of the “oracle” system of payment, Obaseki who stressed the need for accountability and transparency in government narrated how the introduction of oracle grounded government House during the administration of Oshiomhole.
According to him, “after Oshiomhole who has a lion heart introduced oracle, government was shut down to the extent that Comrade (Oshiomhole) had visitors at home and told his house boy to bring drinks. The House boy came out and said no drink sir. Comrade screamed at him, ‘go and get me drinks my friend’. The house boy insisted that there was no drink. Comrade now asked him why, he said because of oracle Sir. That was when Comrade knew that the decision he took had shut down government. But it is a bold step that will ensure accountability in governance and that is what we are going to sustain”.
Civil War effects
Asserting that the civil service system must key into the system, Obaseki said “What we are doing is to automate the process, we inherited the British administration system which was used to govern the entire world. It was that system that helped us to build the economic, social and political foundations of this country. Nigeria worked because the civil service worked.
The civil service worked because there were processes and system that made the processes to work. What happened was that we had a civil war and most of those processes were disrupted. So when we say things are not working today it is because the processes that we inherited in terms of how we managed the bureaucracy was disrupted and it has been a challenge trying to bring back those processes. It is important to know that the money we are spending is tax payers money and we are only privileged to manage it so we must be prudent about it.
As a government we want to make the job of the civil servants easy, that is why we want to run E-Government. We must look for money next week and rebuild Training Center, where there will be mandatory training and voluntary training for civil servants. If you close and you don’t want to go home early you can go there and they will teach you. To make sure we run an E-Government, we just acquired a thousand computers, by the grace of God we are going to complete bloc C this year, and put fence around the secretariat from the Ministry of Works Sapele Road to the High Court junction.
We will make sure we have wireless internet facilities in all our offices. By the grace of God by the time our power project is completed we will have 24 hours electricity in our offices. I come from a civil service family and I worked as a clerical officer at the age of 16, so I have an idea of how the civil service works and I know that no government, no institution can progress without the civil service. But on your part, you must understand that you cannot continue with the attitude of the past. To whom so much is given so much is expected. We want to run our government like an electronically based government. Before the end of my tenure we will no longer use hard files, so that all actions will be on line” he stated.
Cutting down expenses
To further cut down on government expenses, Obaseki resuscitated the abandoned mechanic workshop at Government House and mandated female mechanics to refurbish the over one hundred spoilt vehicles left in the workshop since the administration of the military. Over fifty vehicles have been rehabilitated from that effort and rather than buying more vehicles by the government, the rehabilitated vehicles are today being used by top government officials. In addition, the normal fanfare that goes with commissioning of projects and governor’s visitations are no longer there as Obaseki argued that those side attractions contribute nothing to the economy of the state.
While trying to cut cost in governance Obaseki is working seriously in Benin City and other senatorial districts particularly on roads, investment in agriculture, youth empowerment programme and many other sectors. The Government Reservation Area (GRA) in Benin City has a new look with the reconstruction of the bad roads in the area. It was due to his style of governance that has forced some leaders including the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare 11, to tell the governorship candidate of the PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to accept the verdict of the Edo Election Petition Tribunal, which last Friday affirmed Obaseki as the authentic winner of the September 28, 2016 governorship election in the state.
Reform for youths
Apart from making efforts to reform the economy of the state, Obaseki has also reformed individuals. For instance some the youths referred to as political thugs now dress in suit to avoid the wrath of the governor who has zero tolerance to any form of thuggery. When the immediate past governor Oshiomhole ran into one of these boys recently, he expressed shock seeing two of them in suit. They told him that under the new law in Obaseki’s dispensation, anyone who is not well dressed and does not comport himself well cannot enter Government House. Oshiomhole smiled and said in pidgin English that “so you have now been transformed from ringing bell to wearing suit, and una fine well well for this suit o. This shows Obaseki is working hard o” (laughter).
Obaseki has not failed to exhibit the technocrat in him even to the chagrin of some politicians but he has remained dogged in his reforms and that is what had delayed the appointment of Commissioners in the state. He intends to develop a template whereby Commissioners will follow suit when they are appointed. As he focuses on delivering his promises to Edo people following his recent victory at the Election Tribunal, the governor is expected to invest heavily in agriculture this raining season. The state government had acquired hectares of land in the 18 Local Government Areas of the state for agricultural purposes and over fifty thousand youths of the state are expected to be gainfully employed in this sector