The Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has said that his administration is working with the federal government on a programme that will assist skilled people to migrate legally.
Obaseki who said this on Monday in his New Year broadcast, explained that the initiative is part of efforts to dissuade people from embarking on illegal and dangerous journeys to Europe by land and sea.
“As part of our efforts to stop human trafficking and illegal migration, my government is currently working on a project with the Federal Government to assist people to migrate legally and properly. Our skills centres will offer training, certification and visas under well defined structures which will allow those who want to travel to do so safely and with dignity,” he said.
Recalling the challenges that marked the past year, such as the economic recession which he described as the “worst in decades,” he noted that “perhaps, our saddest moment in 2017, was the very shocking and sad experiences of our sons and daughters in Libya: who fell victims to one of the worst forms of evil, which is human trafficking, including our children, that left our shores with high hopes for greener pastures only to be subjected to all manner of inhuman treatments such as slavery, organ harvesting while many died in the Sahara Desert and in the Mediterranean Sea.”
The governor stressed that “We were all pained to read harrowing accounts of the experiences of the returnees and even more pained to see videos of their unfortunate experiences on the internet.
“We are cooperating with the Federal Government, development partners and other stakeholders to execute a comprehensive strategy to identify, track, arrest and prosecute all those involved in this heinous crime.
“We have also put in place a comprehensive welcome, documentation, counselling, training, rehabilitation and empowerment programme for the returnees. I am glad to inform you all that we are recording great successes on all fronts.
He further said that his administration resorted to tough economic decisions and relied on the creativity and support of all Edo people to weather the storm in 2017.
“We have kept our word to serve our people with all our strength and might because for us, leadership is about solving problems and providing direction across all sectors for our people to realise their God-given potentials.
“2018 promises to be another year of opportunities for us as a state because we hope to grow the economy of Edo and significantly improve the social and economic conditions of our people, based on the foundation which we have laid in 2017.”
He assured that “with the timely approval of the 2018 budget, we will commence its implementation immediately by focusing on our key programs aimed at addressing the most critical challenges facing us as a state.
“In order to achieve our main goal of creating a minimum of 200,000 sustainable jobs, we will continue to construct roads and other infrastructure to ease movement of people and goods, support investment in agriculture, improve our education and health systems and ensure that we create a peaceful and secure state.
“We have committed to construct and rehabilitate at least 3,000 kilometers of road network in Edo during my tenure in office. The contract for many of the roads we advertised are being awarded so that the contractors can take advantage of the dry season. We are also emphasising maintenance of existing roads by strengthening the agency which will now work more closely with the local government authorities.”
On the state’s new transport masterplan, Obaseki said that “in addition to continuing the rehabilitation and construction of major and arterial roads, we are working on new user-friendly road signs, appropriate house numberings, restocking the Comrade Bus fleet with 75 new buses, and have completed the designs of new all-purpose modern bus terminals. We are confident that the construction of the Central Benin City Bus Terminal will commence in the first quarter of this year.”
He added that “Other projects that will be pursued in the new year include the development of the Gelegele Seaport. We are committed to the realisation of this project because of the several socio-economic benefits that are tied to it, namely jobs and a gateway for exporting processed products from our industries and the allied businesses it will attract to the state. The technical report on the development of the seaport has already been completed.”
On agriculture, the governor noted his administration in 2017, resuscitated the Auchi Fertiliser and Chemical plant which is now the only such facility available for the Presidential Programme on Fertiliser, employing over 500 workers.
“The design of the Ilushin Agriculture processing zone, Ikpoba Production Park, Edo Auto Market have commenced while construction work has started at the N200 billion Benin Industrial Park, one of our major achievements in 2017, which I promised our people during my electioneering campaign. We anticipate that the industrial park will commence operations in 2019.
“We have a new security architecture with holistic coverage and a faster response system that has restored a greater sense of security among our people. With the full support of the Omo N’Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, and the good people of Edo State, we have institutionalised land acquisition and management in Edo State with the Private Property Protection Law that has restored sanity in the sector. This has eliminated unnecessary skirmishes and killings over land ownership in the State.
He expressed his gratitude to “the millions of residents, friends, and development partners for their faith in my administration and their support for all our policies and programmes. We also acknowledge the unfettered support of the Federal Government and our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for standing by us as we continue to work at redefining and redirecting the policies, structures and institutions of leadership and governance for the benefit of the citizens in the State.”