Barring all odds, Edo people would file out to exercise their franchise again to elect leaders at the grassroots level before the end of the first quarter of this year. A signal to this effect emerged when the State House of Assembly amended the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission Law following a letter from the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
The House at the committee of the whole amended the Principal law section 21 (1) reducing the notice of election which earlier stated that notice of election shall not be later than 90 days to 45 days.
This was to be followed by the appointment of members of the State Electoral Commission headed by Prof. Stanley Orobator by the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who at inauguration charged the new board of the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) to be fair and objective in the discharge of its duties and responsibilities.
Edo State Government recently affirmed that it has concluded plans to conduct local government election within the first quarter of 2018. The Edo State Commissioner for Communications and Orientation, Barrister Paul Ohonbamu made the disclosure in an exclusive interview with a private broadcast station in the state capital recently.
Although, no date has been fixed for the election, and the whistle is yet to be blown for proper campaigns to begin, preparations are already in top gear with the emergence of hordes of aspirants across the local councils across the various political parties.
Sadly though, the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the State, Chief Dan Orbih had recklessly ran his mouth with foul words in an interview with a print media while reacting to the proposed election that “no date has been announced for the election. EDSIEC has not called a stakeholders meeting on the election and the government is busy amending the local government law for their evil intention.”
When EDSIEC is ready for the plans and preparations it would hold stakeholders meeting. Stakeholders meeting cannot hold before EDSIEC members are appointed or the law setting up the institution is amended. It is the House of Assembly’s duty to make laws for the people of the state and they have also not erred in amending the EDSIEC law. So what is Orbih talking about?
The PDP thinks it can reap where it refused to sow. Edo people would remembers their very sad experience in the hands of the PDP which in spite of the huge oil revenue that accrued for over ten years that it held sway, Edo was in a parlous and deprived state. They dashed the hope of Edo people who gave them their mandate.
Since the takeover of the state by the All Progressives Congress, Edo people have witnessed tremendous growth and development in several areas. The Oshiomhole administration laid a very solid foundation in the area of urban renewal, transportation, Primary, secondary and tertiary education, health care delivery, security and creation of enabling environment for industrialization and many more.
The Governor Godwin Obaseki’s administration within one year has demonstrated very strong commitment and determination to take Edo State to the next level. It committed to the construct ion and rehabilitation of at least 3,000 kilometers of road network in Edo during his tenure in office. The contract for many of the roads advertised so far are being awarded so that the contractors can take advantage of the dry season to fix the roads . The administration is also emphasising maintenance of existing roads by strengthening agency which will now work more closely with the local government authorities.
In the APC-led government new transport master plan, in addition to continuing the rehabilitation and construction of major and arterial roads, the government is working on new user-friendly road signs, appropriate house numberings, restocking the Comrade Bus fleet with 75 new buses, and completed the designs of new all-purpose modern bus terminals. Plans are in top gear for the construction of the Central Benin City Bus Terminal which it will commence in the first quarter of the year 2018.
As part of our urban renewal project, the Edo Development and Property Authority (EDPA) has been restructured to better perform its legal functions, and we have acquired over 700 hectares of land around Obagie N’Evbosa where we will construct a new town this year and over 2,000 jobs will be created at the project site.
The government is also pursuing some laudable projects that would open up the state for business and tourism to flourish which include the development of the Gelegele Seaport. The APC government is committed to the realisation of this project because of the several socio-economic benefits that are tied to it, which are; jobs and a gateway for exporting processed products from the various industries and the allied businesses that are being attract to the state. Already, the technical report on the development of the seaport has been completed and submitted to the governor.
The Obaseki administration has also been able to resuscitate the Auchi Fertilizer and Chemical plant which is now the only such facility available for the Presidential Programme on Fertilizer, 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 last year. The government has a 2019 target to complete this project and Edo State will witness industrial revolution that would create massive employment even beyond the 200,000 promised by the government . This would certainly outlive his administration.
The new government has also put in place a new security architecture with holistic coverage and a faster response system that has restored a greater sense of security among our people. This has received backing of our revered monarch Omo N’Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, and other well meaning people of the state. Government has institutionalised land acquisition and management in Edo State with the Private Property Protection Law which has restored sanity in the sector. This has dealt a severe blow to the hitherto frequent skirmishes and killings over land ownership in the State. The list is endless
Where then can the heavily decimated and crisis-ridden PDP stand as we approach the local government election in the state? Who will vote for PDP in Edo State? Edo people are highly sensitive to political developments in the state and nobody would want to vote for known failures in an important election that would touch on the grassroots.
Already, the Obaseki administration has put structures on ground to connect the state government’s development with the local governments through the appointment of Special Assistants in all the wards in the state and only recently, 18 female Special Assistants in all the 18 Local Governments to specially attend to women and gender issues. The governor has an effective grassroots touch unpparalled in the annals of the creation of the state. So, the PDP should not expect to reap in Edo State come Local Government polls.
• Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Edo State.