As we usher in 2019, there is every reason to celebrate this gift of a new Year and to thank God Almighty not only for preserving us to see this new year, but more importantly for His mercy and the achievements we recorded in 2018.
As we reflect on 2018, we have reasons to celebrate the modest achievements, which we accomplished despite the challenges, which we still face as a nation.
With assistance and support of Mr President and the Federal Government, we were able to pursue our goals and ambition to make Edo State a model for economic development and good governance.
My priority as your governor is to ensure that we emphasise and focus on policies and programmes which will enhance the wellbeing of majority of our citizens by creating the enabling environment and building the necessary social and physical infrastructure for our people to achieve their aspirations.
In order to achieve our promise, we have continued to invest in those areas, which would make life better for our people.
Education and healthcare received a lot of our attention last year and we rolled out Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EDOBEST). EDOBEST has been hailed locally and internationally as a revolution in Basic Education in Nigeria with huge potential to aid our children to learn. I thank the over 7,000 digital teachers who are changing the future of our children and the hundreds of our school-based management committee members who have volunteered to ensure that we change education outcome in Edo State. This year we expect to roll out EDOBEST in every public basic school in the state.
Similarly, our desire to improve healthcare of millions of Edo Citizens by emphasizing primary healthcare took off with the pilot of our first 20 model PHCs equipped with electricity, technology, properly trained health personnel and adequate security. The plan is to have 100 of such PHCs in 2019.
We want Edo to be a centre where we will be able to access quality health care services, without the troubles of travelling out. The New specialist hospital will be opened this quarter under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) management agreement.
In December, we launched the New Edo State Security architecture, which is an innovative approach to fight violent crimes in the State in a sustainable way by involving the communities in the security arrangements and also getting the private sector to participate in funding security in Edo.
Henceforth, up to 25% of the Security vote of the state will be committed to the Security Trust Fund. With the contributions of Edo Citizens and commitments by private companies, we can stamp out crimes from our dear state and make it the safest place to live and do business.
We are still very committed to the creation of jobs so that we can keep our young ones across the three senatorial districts engaged and productive. Even though we have created well over 77,000 jobs in the last two years, including the over five hundred graduate employment into the Edo State Civil Service, we plan to do more this year as we invest in production and processing centers where artisans and entrepreneurs can go and produce goods and services.
With the rapid progress, which we made with our partners in our investments in the modular refinery, the Benin Industrial and Enterprise Park and the Benin River Port, we expect that construction will commence on the park this year and that the Modular refinery would also be installed this year.
We are very pleased with the progress we have made in housing, especially with the construction of the 74 hectares, 1,800-unit Emotan Garden Estate, where 100 units are now ready for occupation. I encourage Edo Citizens to take advantage of this opportunity to own property in this unique project.
We are mainstreaming more women and physically challenged persons in governance, in our effort to create an inclusive system that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of all classes of people in our state. We demonstrated this recently when I approved the employment of all persons living with disabilities, that applied for civil service jobs in the state.
The Edo of our dream is a place where everyone can actualise their God-given potential and contribute to our collective growth and development as a nation.
I must at this point commend the Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, for his fatherly guidance, especially his support for the fight against human trafficking and illegal migration in our state.
The positive response of the traditional institution, the clergy, our mothers and sisters in our various markets, the international community and other stakeholders, to curtail the scourge of human trafficking, has been remarkable. These efforts have begun yielding success such that the European Union announced that Edo State has dropped from the first to sixth position, in illegal migration to Europe.
While this is a landmark achievement considering the fact that Edo State occupied the first position for years, we are however, not relaxing our efforts to stamp out human trafficking and illegal migration from our state.
This modest achievement is the product of our collective fight. Our success story, though modest, is a demonstration of how far we can go as a people, when we come together to tackle a common problem.
We recognise the challenges you, our people, are facing with respect to poor electricity supply. We will continue to task those charged with this responsibility to fulfil the mandate they have been given, while also intensifying our efforts to provide an alternative source of municipal power supply to our people.
As we approach the elections from next month, I implore all actors to work with me to ensure violence-free elections in Edo State.
We look forward to another important year in our annals, and I count on your continued support and assure you that we will uphold your interest above all else.
I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.