1. I celebrate this highly anticipated New Year with you, my beloved people of Edo State.
2. Despite the difficulties and uncertainties in 2020, the scriptures enjoin us that in all situations, we must always give thanks to God Almighty.
3. The coronavirus pandemic which started during the first quarter of 2020 drastically affected lives and livelihoods not only in Edo State, but globally with over 82. 8 million people infected and nearly 2 million deaths.
4. In Edo State, even though we recorded considerable measure of success in managing and protecting our people during the initial outbreak of the virus, we are now battling with the second wave of the crisis, which we are told may be larger and more virulent.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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 government can raise the required funds and resources to finance development projects.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. With the 55MW CCETC-Ossiomo Independent Power Plant, which is now operational, we will intensify our efforts to bring more industries to Edo, while we will continue to attract and support more investments in agriculture across the state.
12. Following up on my campaign promise to make Edo a hub for technology in sub-Saharan Africa, we have signed our first partnership agreement with a highly-rated software engineering company, which will culminate in the training of over 15,000 software engineers in Edo by 2025. The first set of 250 young persons will be onboarded into the Edo Tech Park programme by February this year. We will also explore more avenues to sustain employment creating opportunities for youths by offering them more training and apprenticeship programmes so that they can take advantage of the expansion of the private sector with the influx of new investors.
13. 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.
14. 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 government.
15. We are launching operation ‘Know Your Neighbour,’ where we will be requesting you to provide information and identities of all those who live close to you.
16. Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) reforms will be extended to the Junior Secondary School (JSS) school level this year. The new teachers who are currently being recruited into the Edo Supporting Teachers to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellows programme, will change the face of public education and restore high standards in the system. The Colleges of Agriculture and Education, which are now running as tri-campus institutions, would commence academic activities this year, as we strengthen partnerships to make them world-class institutions of higher learning.
17. One major lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is that we must strengthen our healthcare system. We have therefore began our comprehensive healthcare reforms which will include rebuilding the schools to train healthcare manpower, fully rolling out the state’s health insurance scheme to provide a source for financing our health systems and increasing the number of state-of-the-art primary healthcare centres in the state from the current 61 to 120 this year, 2021.
18. We deeply appreciate the continuous support and encouragement from various stakeholder groups and friends of Edo State, who supported and gave various donations in our fight against COVID-19.
19. We thank the Federal Government and development partners who continue to stand by us. We are grateful to His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin and the traditional institution; the judiciary; the legislature; the media and civil society; the organised private sector; our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, the public servants; students; farmers; market women and artisans, amongst others.
20. 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.
I wish you a very happy and safe 2021.
Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki
Governor, Edo State
January 1, 2021