Before he was sworn-in as governor last November, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, had gone round the nooks and cranny of Edo State soliciting votes and support for his administration. He was a gentle speaker and many doubting Thomas’s never believed he could make a good governor. That is the simple truth. But 100 days down the road of governance in the state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has proved those doubting Thomas’s wrong.
If anything, he has achieved so much within his first 100 days in office and have preferred to remain silent about his achievements and not to make any noise as most politicians would want.
Within a relatively short period of time, he has done so much in the area of road construction. In January, Mr. Obaseki flagged off 29-kilometre Agbede Awai-Idegun road in fulfillment of part of his electioneering campaign promises to the people. Flagging off the road construction, the governor recalled his experience during his visit last August highlighting that the road was in a state of disrepair.
In his words at the occasion: “When I came around August 2016 during our campaign and I wanted to go to ward 8 for campaign at Idegun, we left around 7am. I got to Idegun around 8:30 or 9:00am and I asked what kind of suffering is this in the state and during this time, our vehicle was losing balance, then, I promised that if God made me governor, the road would be one of the first that I will construct.”
He did not only flag it off, he disclosed that his plan was to build the road to meet the standard set by the immediate past administration. He equally told the ecstatic crowed at the occasion that the road is strategic to the plan to open up the area for the proposed 40,000 hectares of land for mechanised agricultural purposes as foreign investors were already indicating interest.
It is obvious that road construction is one of his cardinal areas of fous as during the period under review, his young administration formed a partnership with the AG Dangote Company in the construction of roads using concrete technology and it disclosed its readiness to construct and reconstruct over 3,000 Kilometres stretch of roads across the state, using the concrete pavement technology. The technology is currently on the demonstration stage in the state
Nevis Street which is located between the Lagos Street and Forestry road in Benin City, is about 450 meters long and is a demonstration project to test-run the concrete technology.
The government intends to use the technology to construct and re-construct 3,000 km length of roads across the state within the next four years. The idea here is germane because the materials are locally available which makes it cheaper in the long run, easy to construct, more durable and requires little or no maintenance compared to Asphalt technology.
Several roads in Benin Metropolis have been asphalted quietly by the Obaseki administration. Plymoth road and Akenzua are currently being asphalted. James Watt road and many artery roads around the King square axis have been reconstructed. The GRA axis of the city also has many of the roads reconstructed by his government. The good news is that he is now focusing on areas not touched by the Oshiomhole administration.
This is my clear advise to him during one of my agenda setting articles shortly after he assumed office. I recall urging him to focus on these roads that would help reduce traffic congestion on the major roads and attend to roads that help connect communities within the metropolis. I recall urging him to give attention to roads such as Iririn-Aruogba which will connect new communities in Ogunmwenyin and Ugbor axis down to Sapele road. He should equally focus on Evbuotubu, Erunwnse roads which would help open up large communities in Egor Local government down to Siluko roads, connecting to Adolor College Road and Ugbowo axis of the city as well as several other such roads. With what he has done so far in Plymouth road, he has taken away shame from Edo people’s story because as at the time of the coronation ceremonies for our new Oba, that road was in a terrible state of disrepair, but today it is wearing a new look. It all goes to show that Governor Godwin Obaseki is a listening governor who also knows his onions.
Drainage projects at the Benin Water storm to combat erosion in the city is in progress as Godwin Obaseki is getting very prepared to fight erosion ahead of the rainy season. This is lofty and commendable.
Interestingly too, no fewer than 50 youths who are indigenes of Edo state are currently being trained by the state government in general road construction, surveying, carpentry, masonry, safety, lab technology, welding and road supervision.
It was reliably gathered that the training is part of efforts to fulfill Governor Godwin Obaseki’s promise to generate 200,000 jobs in the next four years. His Government in Collaboration with AG Dangote has engaged 50 Edo Youths, training them on how to use concrete pavement technology to construct road in the state.
The governor assured that after the successful training of these youths, they will become the pioneers in an evolving revolution in road construction in Nigeria. Some of them worked in Edo SEEFOR Programme under his tutelage where they learnt to construct road with direct labour. He is determined from all indications to return to the old era of using direct labour for road construction. But this time, using concrete and some other local raw materials.
Another cardinal area even the blind can see and the deaf hear about what the Obaseki administration has done or is doing is the agricultural sector. He promised to revolusionalise agriculture and make it the hub in the country. And to achieve this, Obaseki had said: “Our strategy will be to focus on the key crops that are best adapted to our local environment for competitive large-scale production. We have mapped Edo State across key crop lines and will develop Crop Enterprise Zones in the different areas based on comparative advantages and availability of land.
Obaseki, while delivering his keynote address, at a workshop in the state capital early in the year advised participants to apply modern agricultural techniques in order to improve production as an alternative means to generate income.
He said the state government had promised to synergise with the federal government to revive and reclaim the nation’s arable lands, which have not been put into optimal use over the years. He also unveiled some economic strategies which according to him include some key areas such as making land accessible for usage, providing security and infrastructure, driving agriculture from the top and not bottom, and giving the necessary support towards achieving the desired objective.
What with the issue of Pensions in the state? Obaseki has made tremendous progress in attacking the hydra-headed problem he inherited from almost all previous administration in the state. But he appears to have the lasting solution that would permanently resolve the problem. A good number of pensioners have quietly received their gratuities during this short period without lobbying anybody. The workers have all be moved into the contributory pensions scheme in line with the Pencom law, now amended. Workers in the state are free to go now to mount Olympus and freely say “In Godwin Obaseki, Vingi, Vingi, Vingi!
• Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Edo State.