… urges residents to abide by COVID-19 guidelines

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state government would be actively engaging its citizens and private organisations on security of lives and property and in driving its urban regeneration initiatives in 2021.

The governor, who disclosed this in his New Year broadcast, noted that he was emplacing deep-rooted reforms in the state to engender sustainable development and reconfigure government institutions to better serve the people.

According to him, “I celebrate this highly anticipated New Year with you, my beloved people of Edo State. Despite the difficulties and uncertainties in 2020, the scriptures enjoin us that in all situations, we must always give thanks to God Almighty.”

“Let me use this opportunity to once again express my appreciation and gratitude for your courageous support and confidence, which you have reposed in me and pledge to pursue our vision to Make Edo State Great Again,” he said.

According to him, “As we begin a new year under difficult circumstances, we must realize that tough times don’t last forever. Let us see the opportunities in this adversity and continue to preach love and hope this new year. Please remember that COVID-19 is still here with us and we must follow all the precautionary public health and safety guidelines.”

The governor noted: “In keeping with my promise to bequeath Edo State with a 30-year Masterplan, we have procured the services of experts to begin the process of designing the Urban and Regional Master Plan. In tandem with the planning process, I will be launching Project Clean and Green Edo this year. This project will involve citizen and corporate participation in beautification and planting of trees, particularly in urban areas.”

Assuring that the security situation in the state is being addressed, he said, “The social and economic tension emanating from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the #ENDSARS protests and its aftermath, which resulted in jailbreaks of the Correctional Centres in Oko and Sapele Road in Benin City. Almost 2000 prisoners escaped from these facilities and this has compounded the security situation in the state, which we are now dealing with.

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“We are building a robust security system to deal with the peculiar challenges that we now face. We are essentially evolving a public safety system that is anchored on citizen participation with a bottom-up structure, such that citizens are actively engaged in protecting and securing their immediate communities in collaboration with the government.”

He added that the government would be launching the operation ‘Know Your Neighbour,’ campaign, where citizens will be requested to provide information and identities of all those who live close to them.

On the highpoint of the outgone year, the governor said the September 19, 2020 election was a silver lining for the state, noting, “In the midst of the gloom and despair, there was a silver lining for us in Edo State with the conduct of the September 19 governorship election, which against all predictions, turned out to be peaceful, credible and a watershed moment for our democracy as a nation.

“With the election, the people of Edo State, demonstrated that power truly belongs to the people and that only the people have the right and authority to choose who should govern them. By this action, you inspired us and gave us hope to forge ahead and continue to chart our cause as a people desirous of change, progress and shared prosperity.”

On the need for the citizenry to support the government to deliver on its promises, he said, “Today, you, my people, can confidently say that you have put your own government in power. We must therefore now come together to ensure the success of this government. Your Government can only succeed when we all play our role by fulfilling our own obligations, particularly by paying our taxes. It is only by paying your taxes that the government can raise the required funds and resources to finance development projects.”

The governor emphasized on his administration’s effort to drive change in the civil and public service, assuring that the reforms would bequeath the state with a strong and technology-savvy workforce to improve efficiency.

“We commenced work for our second term with a comprehensive exercise to strengthen the ability of civil and public servants to deliver service to the people of Edo State. We are strengthening the processes, functions, institutions and personnel of the public service so that institutions not personalities will drive sustainable development in Edo today and in years to come. This reform exercise has started with over 1,400 vacancies declared that would be filled with young professionals who will utilize technology to enhance better service delivery to Edo people,” he said.

He continued: “We are determined to continue providing durable public infrastructure and a maintenance culture in government, as we continue to prioritize development of road infrastructure, public buildings and many projects in our rural areas and urban areas. We have now appointed a transaction adviser to assist in getting the Benin River Port to actualization. Our hope is to complete all the designs and fundraising this year so that construction can begin early in 2022.”