Obaseki: Stepping into the ring armed with sterling achievements
Governor GODWIN OBASEKI took on the mantle of political leadership in Edo State in November 12, 2016. IDRIS UMAR MOMOH and CHURCHILL OKORO write on his achievements across various sectors in his first tenure as governor of Edo State, which comes to an end on November 12, 2020.
The first phase of Godwin Obaseki’s political journey to Dennis Osadebey Avenue, the Edo State seat of power, which commenced November 12, 2016, would on November 12, 2020, come to an end, having completed the constitutional four years of one tenure.
But the journey to the last lap of eight years of the second tenure would commence this November 12, 2020 after the conduct of the gubernatorial election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) slated for September 19.
Since his assumption of office, Obaseki has always put his mind on people-oriented policies and programmes that would not only put smiles on the faces of the teeming populace but also stand the test oftime.
In realising his political mission, the governor initiated several reforms to fast track socio-economic development and transform the state to serve as a benchmark to other states across
To sustain and boost the state’s economy, the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led government identified six areas his administration’s political economy would rest on. These six areas of interest include – culture and tourism, sports, economic development, environmental
sustainability, institutional reforms, infrastructural development, and social welfare.
As part of commitment to ensure that these policies and programmes are realised as well as open up the state to more investors, create lasting legacies for successive generations
and unlock the state’s potentials, the governor initiated an annual Edo State Investment Summit tagged ‘Alaghodaro,’ to chart a possible way forward.
Alaghodaro, a Bini slogan that connotes progress, showcases the state’s investment potential in its development plan and creates a platform for experts, investors, business leaders,
and other critical stakeholders to brainstorm and explore partnership prospects.
In his unique style of governance, people-centred policies and all-encompassing framework geared towards making the lives of Edo people better, Obaseki has undoubtedly set a pace for others to follow.
Though it has not been an easy task in the past three years, with criticisms and disparaging remarks from various groups of persons but the governor has kept his head up and undeterred to putting the state on a redemptive path.
In less than four years, the Godwin Obaseki has recorded significant achievements across all sectors; from the area of economic growth, education, agriculture, infrastructure, health, sports development, education, among others.
Determined to improve the educational sector beyond what it was on assumption of office, the Obasekiled administration implemented a new teaching technique and high technology learning through the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EDOBEST) programme, which
has bolstered confidence in public schools.
The Edo-BEST programme, which is basically for primary school pupils, involves the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools in teaching. Under the
programme, 11,356 primary school teachers were trained on digitallyenhanced technique for teaching pupils in not less than 918 public primary schools across the three senatorial districts in the state, training over 11,500 School Based Management Committee (SBMC) members and
distributing over 1,140,000 learning materials to pupils, while over 243 schools were renovated.
Obaseki, who launched the programme in Benin City, said plans were underway to roll out the programme in the junior secondary school to capture more children in the state. His reforms in the basic education sector have led to increased enrolment in public primary schools, where pupils now learn three times more than they used in the old system through the grooming of a new tribe of versatile, tech-savvy and highly-skilled teachers that are leading a world-acclaimed public education revolution in the state.
In launching the Edo-BEST program, the governor said “pupils do not just go to school in Edo, they now learn.
Our teachers have been trained to use technology to teach in a manner that has resulted in children learning three times more than they used to with the old system. Currently, there are about 300,000 pupils in public primary school system and the Edo-BEST programme has positively changed the story of the educational life-cycle of an average Edo child.
So far, many states within the country, including Lagos, have visited Edo State to learn from the Edo-BEST success story.
The state has also received foreign delegation from Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, among others, who have come to understudy the Edo-BEST programme, including accolades from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Bank, the Finnish Embassy, among others, on
the impact of the reforms in schools across the state.
The reforms in the educational sector in the past three years and six months put the state as the third highest in West African Examination Council (WAEC) results in 2018.
Edo State with a total landmass of 19,187 square kilometres has ample arable land, diverse agro-ecological zones, good rainfall and rich soil. The state has a Gross Domestic Product of
$11.89 billion and $3,623 per capital income. Edo State is the second largest producer of palm oil and palm kernel. It accounts for 72 percent of the Nigerian total vegetable oil production. It also accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s rubber, timber and cocoa production.
Leveraging the euphoria of the huge potentials abound in the sector, the Obaseki-led administration has implemented well thought-out strategic and far-reaching reforms that attract and retain investments in oil palm, cassava, maize, yam, rubber, cocoa, rice, vegetables, aquaculture and livestock production.
The Edo State Agripenuer programme, which commenced in 2017, is part of the administration’s strategies to boost Micro, Small- Scale and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and sustain current youth-focused agricultural initiatives in the state.
Under the scheme, over 10,600 hectares of maize, cassava, rice, soyabean
and other crops are being cultivatedbin Agenebode, Warrake, Usugbenu, Iguorhiakhi and Sobe. Over 55,000 young beneficiaries while about 20,000 jobs were created under the initiative. In addition, the Edo Food and Agriculture Cluster (Edo-FAC) in Ehor, Uhunmwode Local Government Area, has benefited over 1,300 farmers. There is also a farm mechanisation programme for commercial agriculture in the state. The state with its partners and investors set up the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP). To boost the oil palm production in the state, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to invest a whooping sum of about N70 billion to support the project, and in the next two to three years, the state will be cultivating about 100,000 hectares of oil palm.
In an effort to increase the country’s sufficiency in rice production, the state government invested in rice cultivation and production. Farmers in Warake rice farms, Owan East Local Government Area in partnership with the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led government recorded bumper harvest in 2019 farming seasons.
The state government provided inputs and technical support for the farming season to boost food sufficiency in the state. The government’s multifaceted agricultural development scheme backed by the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the CBN, the Elephant Group, and a number of other off-takers benefited not less than 2,000
farmers in different farm settlements in Ilushi, Iguoriakhi, Sobe, Warake, Iguomon, Agenebode, Usugbenu, Ekpoma, among others.
Flagging off the cultivation, the state governor said the government intended to harvest 17,000 metric ton of rice by cultivating 4,000 hectares of land at the end of the 2019 planting season. He noted that off-takers were on ground to buy off the produce, and assured farmers of buyers for their produce.
“We are delighted at the bumper harvest in Warake, which follows the impressive performance of the farm at Agenebode. This is a testament to the fact that we are doing the right thing as
regards rice farming in Edo State. We are looking at expanding the scope of what we have to accommodate more farmers in the state,” he said.
The state government investment in agriculture was further boosted with the investment of N28 million by Japanese government in conjunction with Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) in rice processing mill at Ugbeke-Ekperi in Etsako Central Local Government Area.
The N28,750,070 million ultra-modern rice mill has capacity to mill three tons of paddy rice per day.
The mill will produce “Royal Rice” brand of rice. Determined to ensure that the state depend less on crude oil revenue from the federation account, the state government further sealed a deal with NIRSAL for the expansion of the Edo Agripreneur Programme to cover other crops aside grains.
The programme operating under the CBN Anchor-Borrower Programme and covers only the cultivation of grains such as maize and rice targets 17,000 jobs and N2 billion revenue.
Speaking during harvest of maize at Sobe in Owan West Local Government Area, the governor said the signing of the amended deal with NIRSAL became imperative following the success of the 2019 Agripreneur Programme. He said the programme would
be expanded to accommodate poultry, piggery, as well as the cultivation of root and tuber crops.
Aliyu Abdulhameed, managing director of NIRSAL, said with the success of the programme in 2019, funders and other stakeholders in the value chain would be encouraged to provide more funding under the model.
He said the programme was aimed at supporting and improving the livelihood of 880 farmers on 4,400 hectares of land across the 18 local government areas of the state. The state government investment in agricultural sector also extended to rubber production with the management of Rubber Estate Nigeria Limited, investing about N5.1
billion in Urhonigbe Rubber Plantation. The planting, which will be in two phases, will cover 1,300 hectares in the first phase and 1,000 hectares in the second while a total of 350 jobs will be created.
The administration, also successfully revamped the 60,000 metric tons of Edo Fertilizer and Chemical Company located at Auchi through a Public Private Venture, 14 years after it was abandoned.
The administration is not only creating jobs for its teeming population but also striving to guarantee access to affordable, efficient and quality healthcare services for residents across the states.
Some of the notable achievements recorded in the period under review are rehabilitation of the 20 primary healthcare centres in the 18 LGAS of the state; enactment of the compulsory Health Insurance Law to reduce out-of-pocket expenses on healthcare, and the repair and opening of the Edo Specialist Hospital.
Others are training of over 500 midwives, nurses and community health extension workers on best practice for care delivery and establishment of the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre and Infectious Disease Isolation Centre.
To achieve its set objectives, the state government set up critical stakeholders in the health sector to come up with a detailed plan to guide in setting standards in the health sector, and this resulted to the unveiling of the Edo Health Improvement Programme (EDOHIP).
The administration’s focus in reforming the health sector is based on the EDOHIP, which will strengthen the primary healthcare system, provide access to specialist care for most common ailments and healthcare financing.
The intervention programme is expected to set up about 200 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC); this means that there will be one PHC for every 10 units across the 192 wards in the state, with adequate security, utilities and 24-hour solar-powered electricity.
To ensure the programme is fully implemented, the state government set aside 2 percent of its federal allocation for both state and local government councils. The Edo State Health Insurance Scheme and the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund are housed under the Edo Healthcare Improvement Programme (EDO-HIP) – a broad framework to remodel healthcare services so that residents can have unfettered access to efficient and affordable healthcare in the state.
One of the administration’s overarching goals is to make sure no fewer than one million persons in the state benefit from the Edo Health Insurance Scheme (EDO-HIS) by the end of the year 2021.
Some of the benefits under the scheme include: antenatal care, ultrasound in pregnancy, induction of labour, management of eclampsia, immunisation, family planning, malaria treatment in adults, chronic disease screening, and treatment of severe acute malnutrition and management of maternal sepsis.
Other advantages are Child Outpatient Department (OPD) for children under five years of age, management of new born sepsis, referred child treatment to secondary health facility, emergency stabilisation, emergency ground transportation, normal delivery and postnatal care, caesarean section in secondary health care facility and referred antenatal care to secondary health facility. The services will be accessed in 20 pilot PHC centres across the 18 LGAS of the state.
The state government’s effort in the fight against Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) cannot be overemphasised as the government has put in place state-of-the art medical infrastructure.
Edo State government under the leadership of Godwin Obaseki started the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) with the constitution of a COVID-19 Response Team, which commissioned an epidemiological survey to predict ways the virus spread and a pathway for response.
The state government has trained over 4,200 health workers who are in the frontlines of the campaign against the pandemic. These health workers are provided with life insurance and hazard allowances ranging from N90,000 to N300,000, depending on their cadre, to cater for as low and also support staff up to the consultants working on the frontlines.
Governor Obaseki and his team procured 5 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines; over 5000 Viral Transport Medium (TVM); 28 ventilators, mobile x-ray machines, oxygen concentrators, among others. Of the 5 PCR machines in the state, three are sited in government hospitals and one in a private facility. The government ceded one of its machines to a neighbouring state to support their response to the pandemic.
The state government has over 500-bed capacity holding and isolation centres spread across different health facilities in the state, with the Stella Obasanjo Hospital contributing over 42-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 156-bed holding facility; University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) with 48-bed Icu-equipped isolation centre, and others at the ISTH and Auchi General Hospital.
Edo State government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has recorded a milestone with the completion of an additional holding centre at the Ogbe Nursing Home, Benin City. The Ogbe Nursing Home will serve as a holding centre where suspected persons will be kept while their COVID-19 status is being verified through tests in the two testing centres in Benin or at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH).
In addition to the isolation centre at Irrua Specialist Hospital Teaching Hospital, the government built two new isolation centres; 30-bed new isolation centre in Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin City; 12-bed isolation centre in Auchi, 12 female and 12 male, making a total of 24.
Also, the state government has set up over 18 screening centres in Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCS) across the state, with five additional ones at borders with Delta, Ondo and Kogi states as well as eight mobile screening centres moving around wards in local governments to screen and collect samples that fit the case definition for testing.
The state government, which has so far spent over N1 billion to put in place the infrastructure to manage and checkmate the spread of the disease in the state, plans to screen a minimum target of 500,000 people and test 5,000 individuals in the next few weeks.
Over 917 residents have been tested for the virus, more than 140,000 persons screened across the 192 wards in the state. The state government is working in tandem with private hospitals, clinics and pharmacies to ensure the deadly virus is contained in the state.
The state government is refurbishing the Stella Obasanjo Hospital Isolation Centre to be the best in Nigeria, to increase capacity of holding patients, especially with increasing number of daily cases of the COVID-19.
The expanded 300-bed isolation facility will treat cases in the four main categories of infectious disease management; category one is the most critical and serious cases, which requires the use of ventilators and respirators. While second, third and fourth categories will be for none critical cases.
Reassuring on the state’s readiness to ward off the outbreak of disease in Edo, the state commissioner of health, Patrick Okundia said the state government had intensified efforts to contain the pandemic.
Worried by the spate of insecurity, especially kidnapping, herdsmen/ farmers clashes, cult-related killing and armed robbery, the Edo State government in December 2018 unveiled over N2 billion security trust fund architecture codenamed “Operation Wabaizigan”.
Wabaizigan, a Benin phrase, means ‘abstain from bad things,’ is part of strategy to beef up security in the state and boost confidence of potential investors in investing in the state.
The state security architecture included purchase of 50 special security cars fitted with modern communication and security gadgets, 30 Toyota Hilux patrol vans, 30 patrol motorbikes and three Tropicalised Armoured Personnel Carriers, three Ambulances, Integrated Command and Control Centre and five special security check points to be manned at all the entry and exit points in the state.
Others are Special Patrol Units (land and waterways); Integrated Electronic City Surveillance Unit; Establishment of a Special Force unit/ anti-kidnapping squad; establishment of K-9 unit; establishment of paramedics unit; establishment of the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) scheme with 3,000 trained and kitted workforce and a community police radio network.
In line with his campaign promises to create enabling environment for investors to thrive as well as bring governance to the doorstep of the populace, the Obaseki-led administration embarked on road construction and rehabilitation across the 18 LGAS of the state.
The road construction was geared towards opening up new towns, improve ease of doing businesses, enhance access to rural areas and consolidate on his administration’s urban renewal vision. In the past three years, over 80 roads have so far been constructed across the state, stretching about 2,000 kilometres, the state’s Ministry of Infrastructure constructed about 200 roads, which stretch for 700 kilometres, while the Edo State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR) constructed over 400 roads, spanning about 1,300 kilometres across the state.
Some of the roads so far constructed in the past three years are the 18.5km road connecting Irhirhi, Aruogba, Obazagbon,okhoromi, Obagienevbosa, Ogheghe and Ogbekpen Ogheghe and Sapele Road bypass. The project, which criss-crosses Oredo and Ikpoba Okha local government areas, links Benin – Sapele Road and Airport Road.
Another noteworthy development is the completion of the 14-storey blocks C & D public and civil servants secretariat building complex initiated by the then late Samuel Ogbemudialed military administration over 40 years ago.
The completion of the complex will address accommodation deficit faced by public workers as well as the huge cost of rent in private accommodation. Also, the construction of a multi-million naira ultra-modern court complex at the Edo State High Court premises along Sapele Road is at the final stage of completion.
As part of the governor’s drive for industrialisation and plans to electrify the state, the installation of high-tension cables and a sub-station on the Sapele Road axis, linking the city centre to the 55mw Ccetc-ossiomo Power Plant in Ologbo, Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, is at the final stage of completion.
The 55mw Ccetc-ossiomo Power Plant will address erratic power supply in Benin metropolis, power industrial clusters at the Sapele Road corridor, streetlights and key public buildings, including government offices, hospitals and other essential public amenities in the city centre.
As part of his administration’s vision to set the state as a leading economic hub in Nigeria, Governor Obaseki signed a $200 million deal in China for the Benin Enterprise Park. The $200 million deal, which is for textile industry, is to be operated by the anchor tenant at the Benin Enterprise Park (BEP), as part of concerted efforts to industrialise the state.
The state government is also in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria for the promotion of investment in the Cotton, Textiles and Garments (CTG) sector. The BEP would be
Determined to help youths realise their potential, the state government under the leadership of Godwin Obaseki started several reforms with a vision to transform the state’s sports sector, including the rebranding of Bendel Insurance and Edo Queens Football Clubs.
Besides, he has rebuilt the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and plans to build 20 mini stadia across the state to promote grassroots sports. Apparently, this strategy has led to a significant decrease in the number of Edo State indigenes who opt for illegal migration and human trafficking as routes to greener pastures.
In his resolve to deliver on his campaign promises to create 200,000 jobs geared towards addressing the problem of poverty, hunger, unemployment, and ever-rising criminality among youths, the Obasek-led government as of 2019 created over 157,000 jobs.
The jobs were created through jobs matching and placement, jobs’ tracking, skills development and entrepreneur, Edo innovates, Edo food and agric cluster, Edo production centre, Ministry of Wealth Creation, National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), and indirect jobs.
According to the governor, the Edo State Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs), has created direct and indirect jobs along its different intervention areas, with 46,576 created through job tracking; 3,434 through job matching and placement, and 22,872 from the skills development and entrepreneurship programmes.
“There are 27,732 beneficiaries under Edo Innovates; 1,376 at the Edo Food and Agriculture Cluster; 161 through the Edo Production Centre; 10,000 beneficiaries through the Ministry of Wealth Creation; 12,413 in the National Social Investment Programme; as well as 32,430 beneficiaries engaged through indirect jobs. This brought the total jobs created by the Edo State Government to 156,994”, he said.
The governor has assured to surpass the figure before the end of his administration. In view of the forthcoming gubernatorial election slated for September 19, the Edo State chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Anselm Ojezua, said Obaseki’s achievements would guarantee second term victory.