TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE writes on the recent town hall meeting, which Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, had with indigenes of the state resident in Lagos
Communication is key governance given its role in informing, enlightening and educating people on activities of government. This, perhaps, explained why Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, stormed Lagos with members of his cabinets last Sunday to hold a town hall meeting with Edo people resident in Lagos.
The town hall meeting, which was organised by Unuedo Renaissance, a body of professionals from Edo State, with a theme “Edo Òkpa ‘Nó,” gave Governor Obaseki the opportunity to interact with Edo indigenes in Lagos as well as the people hearing directly from the governor on how he has steered the ship of Edo in the last three years.
The town hall meeting, which took place at the 10 Degrees Event Center in Oregun, Ikeja in Lagos, was well attended by eminent Edo indigenes. Among the dignitaries at the event were Governor Obaseki’s wife, Betsy; the state deputy governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu; Secretary to the Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie; Chief of Staff to the governor, Chief Taiwo Akerele; the state Chairman of Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Barr. Anselm Ojezua; former member of Senate, Senators Daisy Danjuma and Domingo Obende, former two-term Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Matthew Egbadon, commissioners, special advisers and heads of agencies, captains of industries, professionals, artisans, among others.
Governor Obaseki who interacted with Edo people in Lagos for almost three hours, especially during the questions and answers sessions, spoke passionately about his developmental plans for the growth and development of the state.
The governor highlighted the impact of his administration’s reforms in basic education, primary healthcare, infrastructural development and other sectors of the state’s economy to Edo indigenes resident in Lagos.
He said his government is passionate about developing Edo people to lead productive lives, and assured the citizen of the state that his administration would work toward building an international airport in the state, adding that “My dream and I hope I will be here then is that by 2050, Edo will host the Olympic.“
Speaking about what his administration has done so far and plans for the future, the governor said: “We decided to focus on the fundamentals. We focused on people and on education, healthcare, security and jobs. Our development efforts are focused on developing our people, building infrastructure, and creating the space for economic prosperity.
“We have strengthened the education system, which is what the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) programme is about. If one doesn’t have literacy and numeracy skills, such a person won’t be able to survive in the world. That is why we implemented the Edo-BEST programme. We thank God that the world has acknowledged that we have gotten it right.
“Today, we have about 300,000 pupils in our public primary school system. I can tell you when a teacher or pupil is in class or when they have completed their lessons, from my office through technology.”
Obaseki also informed the people of the state that his administration has carried out a lot of reforms in the agricultural sector, noting that the state government has recorded immense success with its agripreneur programme, which has impacted a lot of youths in the state.
“We are rebuilding the schools of agriculture. We have asked Okomu Plc, Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Presco Plc and others to sit on the board of our schools of agriculture. This is so that they can teach the people they need to employ,” he said.
He declared that he is confidence about his reelection because he has delivered on what the people of the state need and his focus now is to better the life of the people of the state and not his reelection.
The governor said he is not focusing on the forthcoming governorship election in the state because he is confidence that the re-election is already a done deal and therefore he is committed to the development of Edo State and working toward ensuring that Edo overtakes Lagos State by 2050.
He said Edo State problem is not resources but leadership, and he therefore reiterated his commitment toward ending godfatherism in the state, declaring that “Godfather will not be allowed in Edo State.”
His words: “The problem of Edo is not resources; it is not opportunity. We had all of these. We had everything. Our problem is that people have being thinking so shortsighted. The military governors did not know when the next coup would be, so they never try made attempt and the politicians are only concern about the next election.
“For us, we are not thinking about the next election because by the grace of God that is spoken to already. We are thinking about the next generation; where will Edo be in the Year 2050? How would will be positioned by 2050? How would we overtake Lagos by 2050? It is possible.
“For us, it is clear; what we need to do is to plan. They said those who fail to plan, plan to fail. So, it is about having rigorous regional and urban planning. We didn’t meet anything but we are going to leave behind a lot.”
The governor while commending the people of his state, said the success of Edo people is ingrained in their makeup as evidenced in the exploits of the Benin Kingdom, which attained sophisticated civilization and has thrived for thousands of years.
He said the reason why Edo people have excelled over thousands of years is because they possess natural endowment that others didn’t have.
“We have a rich colonial heritage; we know who we are. We are Edo people. We have built infrastructure for thousands of years. Without bulldozers, we built the world’s largest earthwork known as the Benin moat. Without modern cutting tools, we created artworks that adorn museums across the world,” he said.
Speaking to journalists after the event, Governor Obaseki described his meeting with the Edo people in Lagos State as a form of accountability and not political move.
“My meeting with the Edo people in Lagos State is just about accountability. They have the right to know what is happening in their state. As we approach election, there is a lot of misinformation as a result of the contestation. So, it is important to let them know, put out the facts, engage them, get their concerns and indeed their feedbacks were profitable,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Daisy Danjuma, publicly endorsed Governor Obaseki for second term and urged the people of Edo State to allow the governor to continue.
She said her support for the governor, who is a member of the APC remains despite the fact that she is a member of PDP’s Board of Trustees.
Senator Danjuma, who commended Obaseki for prioritising the development of the state, said the governor has the support of the Edo people in Lagos.
“He (Obaseki) has done well and we want him to continue. I am a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of PDP but I support the governor and his policies. I support him for a second term. I am for development. Let us forget politics; let us develop,” Senator Danjuma who represented Edo South Senatorial District in Senate between 2003 and 2007 declared.
Speaking earlier, a former Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Egbadon, lamented the level of brigandage in the state politics, asking the governor to find a way to solve political problems without resorting to violence.
He said governance in Edo State are run in the last 11 years without carrying Esan people along, noting that the senatorial district has no deputy governor, ambassadorial and ministerial positions.
Egbadon, who spoke on behalf of the people of Edo Central, also kicked against marginalisation of the people of the senatorial district in term of political appointments at state and federal levels.
The former Speaker also kicked against act of political brigandage in the state and therefore urged the governor to use his position to ensure peace in the state.
Speaking on behalf of the people of Edo North, Dr. Mamudu Dako, commended Governor Obaseki for what he has done so far in the Edo North Senatorial District, most especially in the areas of infrastructures and other laudable projects in the area. But despite what the incumbent administration has done in Edo North, Dako said the senatorial zone is still behind others in terms of projects in place in different parts of Edo State.
He therefore urged the governor to do something urgently to address the situation. He also implored the governor to address security challenges in the state, saying that the people of the state cannot pretend that all is well about security and politics in the state.
Dako also urged Governor Obaseki to settle the political crisis in Edo State by ensuring that all political differences are resolved.
Also speaking, Barr. Bright Ogbebor, who spoke on behalf of the people of Edo South, urged everybody in Edo State to help Governor Obaseki to secure second term.
His words: “We are all one and we cannot discriminate. Edo South has 60 per cent population and majority of the resources in the state.
“We thank the governor for what he has done for Edo South. Let us all support him to get second term because he has a lot of plans for Edo State. If opportunity is not given to him, all those plans will die.”
In his welcome address, the President of Unuedo Renaissance, Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, said the town hall meeting was organised for Governor Obaseki to speak to Edo people in Lago State on what he has done so far.
“He (Obaseki) was elected as governor and we decided to give him an opportunity to speak to us on what he has done so far. We are very important in the politics of Edo State because we decide what happens in Edo State during elections. We are one and all groups should be united. We have a common heritage and we should hold on to that,” he said.
The governor prior to the town meeting visited Oba of Lagos, His Royal Majesty Oba Rilwan Akiolu at his palace in Lagos Island.
Speaking during Obaseki’s visit to his palace, Oba Akiolu, called for a peaceful resolution of the political crisis in state, noting that such was necessary for the development and advancement of the state.
He said Edo and Lagos states share a lot in common, noting that his forefathers traced their ancestry to Benin Kingdom, adding that it would only be proper for the two states to work together for mutual development and growth.
His words: “Politicians don’t quarrel, they only agree to disagree later. The friction must end on a peaceful note. No victor, no vanquish. I have told my son, here. What is paramount is this country is development and advancement.”