Why Edo must focus on human resources, industrialization, by Obaseki
As Edo State prepares for its governorship election later this year, one of the frontrunners Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) spoke with Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu in Benin City, on his ambition, his views about governance among others. Excerpts:
Why I want to be governor and the coming primaries
I am going to be governor of everybody; those who are mine and those who are not mine. This is a contest within the same party and only one person will emerge.
I have a future but to justify my going away (from this government), I said to myself let me do it and before you know, I felt it could be a reality. I just told a few people and suddenly everybody was like why not and when I tested it with the Comrade, you could sense a sigh of relief, yes it could be expensive but it is doable and since then everything has been falling in place. That is why some of my other aspirants are shell-shocked because when the arena was being designed, I was never in the picture. It is like an injury time entry.
The most important thing is how do we empower our people in a meaningful and sustainable way? If you drive around, there is poverty staring you in the face. There is nothing to link up with the people but you can imagine if an entity comes and somebody chooses to invest $20 million into whatever it is, even if it is just to grow grains, do you know the number of people it will employ? It will change the landscape; it will change even our politics.
My Vision for Edo
I don’t need to do much differently because I just need more of what we have done in the last seven years. If you look at the last seven years it was like laying a foundation for our house, you know the amount of materials that need to go underneath the soil, the amount of concrete you need to bury, the design work you need to do, where the pillars are going to be to suspend the house, that is what we have done in the last seven years. We just came out of the foundation level we now need to begin to raise that structure of the house up to the level so that you can get to the first level, deck it take it to another level depending on the plan you have, you can take the building as high as you want to depending on the foundation you have laid.
The Edo project which is the house that we started seven years ago will be housed above many in this country and so we have taken time out to lay very solid foundation in terms of ensuring that we have reinstated the whole idea that government is about the people. That there must be governance, there must be prudence in the management of government resources because these resources belong to the people. You can’t just deep your hand in the treasury and take people’s money and do whatever you like with it. You have to have a sense of accountability; you have to show the people and tell them what you are doing with their money.
You are going to have a plan, development is not accidental, and it is a well thought out series of ideas implementable ideas. We have built the infrastructure, the basis for this government, we have not built all the roads we need to build in Edo state, and we have not even built 20 per cent so we need to continue to build on our infrastructure. But this time, around we want to direct those infrastructures and make sure that we get social and economic benefit from them which are all what we have done. We want to begin to ensure that the output of our schools, we need to first finish there are so many communities where we still need to refurbish the school system. We need to now begin to train our teachers better, give them 21st-century tools to equip the children for the challenges ahead of them. We need to begin to plan and control our environment better because today our cities are sprawling out into slums.
In specific terms what I will do differently is to extend the plan to the next phase, which is to begin to introduce more of the economic elements into the plan. To begin to sell what we are doing to the outside so that we can attract investment and investors to create jobs. We have to send children to school, we have to create an economy that will employ them and the only way we can get employment for them is to encourage and attract the private sector to come. Will they come, they will come because they see that we are governing the state properly, they will come because they will see we have built infrastructure, which will help reduce their cost of doing their business.
Today, people believe that once they have access to the governor, all their problems are solved but it was when the governor had all the resources, when the governor goes to Abuja comes back with money but he doesn’t have that anymore.
Oshiomhole has been able to make every Edo man look at ourselves as one and it is a political master stroke, even though he is from Edo north, he comes to embrace the Oba of Benin as our cultural home so if someone from the north whose migration is farther embraces the Oba, is it someone from Central that will not do that? So as you begin to work everywhere, everybody begins to see this is our own.
After seven years, we have achieved quite a lot and the government that built so much roads is coming to an end and people are asking for other things, we have had roads, we have seen schools, but people don’t have jobs these are the things that are now coming to the fore. People suddenly forget that once there was a time government could not even build roads, government could not even build schools, government could not build hospital now they have taken it for granted but this is normal so what type of government should now run to be able to provide these goods and services to the people.
I looked round and I saw the people contesting and I said look if you truly and genuinely came to assist, this is not the time to quit because what will happen two things; even the capacity to continue to do what we have taken for granted, you will find out that we are not being able to do it because all sorts of arguments will come, there is no money and then to do the basic things of government and reason for building roads is for the economy to be opened so that is what I saw and I went to the governor and said Comrade, you know what, I know you are struggling with and I said I want to run because from the risk analysis point, if I walk away and things get down, will I be a free man? I see that I know what to do; I know what we need to do which is to rethink government.
I don’t know what happened to government; before now, when you see the protocol list of government, you see businessmen as part of the protocol list of government which meant that government at a point recognised the fact that individuals who are in the society were creating wealth were also important to government but if you go to Government Houses today, do you see private people, it is all government as if government in itself creates money the reason is that after the civil war, all the money government needed to run the country came from the centre and that is why government started to think that way. Now the money government needed to run government, they cannot provide themselves from that source so you have to rethink it. And it is very difficult when you are part of the problem to find solution.
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