Engineer Ferguson Enabulele, the Chief Accounting Officer of Edo Ministry of Infrastructure, says Governor Obaseki, in fulfilment of his administration’s agenda to address the shortfall in road infrastructure delivery in the state, has approved over new 101road reconstruction and rehabilitation projects.

The permanent secretary of the ministry speaks with the NIGERIAN OBSERVER in commemoration of the first year of the second term in office of Governor Godwin Obaseki in Benin on the state of road infrastructure, the government’s new road projects, Edo master plan, the state’s intervention in the rehabilitation of federal roads and civil service transformtion agenda among others.

What is your assessment of the Infrastructure development under Governor Godwin Obaseki administration in the past 12 months or from 2016 to date?

Well, government actually is an ongoing process. Before this year’s Alaghodaro, government has been working and after the Alaghodaro government will continue to work. As far as I am concerned, this government is doing so much in the area of Infrastructure development.

Infrastructure happens to be a thematic pillar that umbrellas road development, energy and electricity sector, water resources sector, physical planning and urban development, management of public utility, the tangible and intangible infrastructure of the ICT and a whole lot of others.

It is very big thematic pillar. So far, in my assessment, this government has done so well. In terms of public buildings, you see what has happened to the government offices. So, there are a lot of testimonies to that fact. The electrification process is also going on, the operation light Edo is on, you can see what is happening to the street lights all around the Ring Road and the access streets. Also, there is a design to restructure the traffic light, which has reached a very high stage.

Then, for my specific area, which is road development, government has done so well. We also need to understand that road development is very critical a sector in any government or economy.

Fortunately and also unfortunately, past governments have giving more concern to what we call the highways connecting local governments but the internal network roads have been abandoned for some time but these are the link roads that touch the average persons; they are of daily use by the people. Overtime, past governments had not paid attention to them (internal roads) but this is the first government is paying great attention to the internal link roads.

You can see that a lot of potholes had sprung up all over the state. In the entire local governments of the state we have had the presence of the Seefor, of Superlink and the presence of the ministry of Infrastructure.

We also have very significant road projects like the Ekenwan Road, which is dualized up to eight kilometres and the other five kilometres will be single carriage way. It is progressing so well in tandem with programme of work. That project will be completed by September next year and to the glory of God, funding is not a problem for that project. The fund to complete that project has been reserved and that is phase One of Ekenwan Road.

We also have another signature project which is the Textile Mill Road of which 60% of that project has also been executed. We have the completed Ihevbeya – Ogba 33km road that spans from Airport Road down to a little after RCC in Sapaele: a very good veritable by-pass which is now in use. We also have the Ugua-Amagba Road that is linking Ugua-Amagba community. That project is 90% completed. It is just remaining a small portion of the boundary between Ugua-Amagba. There are a whole lot of projects.

The Agbede – Ewani project in Estako is going on well save for this raining beacause it’s a very mashy terrain. The contractor has to leave the site until the weather becomes favourable. There are a whole lot of road projects such as the Obakhabhaiye Road network which is housing the Edo State bus terminal. There is a whole network of roads that was constructed there under this administration.

So, government has done well in terms of roads development and the government is not stopping. We know that some of these roads are 50 to 60 year old that could need total replacement but we also know what the times are in the country and inthe world.

One wonders how His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki is able to manage the resources to spread across this huge thematic pillar. I admire his courage but no doubt that he is a finance expert and he is deploying that experience to actualise some of these laudable achievements.

We also have our auspicious project to come, which is actually the reconstruction and rehabilitation of more than 101 roads. The list is right before me. The design has been completed, the projects are in the final stage of award because we have to pass through the global e-payment process to get this contract awarded. That is one good thing about this government; we use due process in every thing we do. So, the contract award is being concluded.

And I can authoritatively tell you that by next week, you are going to witness impressive deployment of men, materials and machineries to some of these roads. They are more than 101 projects and first on the list is the rehabilitation of the New Lagos Road. We know that part of the road is Federal Government’s project but this government cannot continue to wait for the Federal Government.

We know the pains our people go through in terms of these odd areas where the Federal Government needed to intervene but it has not. So, the state government has decided to step into these areas like the New Lagos Road. We have the service lanes which belong to the state but we also have the expressways which belong the Federal Government but we see that there are some spots causing some traffic discomfort. So, His Excellency has directed that we step into such areas and rehabilitate them.

We have Chief Uguangbe Omoragbon Street and we have Edaiken Primary School Road. If you look at the drains of the sitting along the New Lagos Road, one of the major culprits is the Edaiken Road; it washes a lot of debris into the road. So, His Excellency has approved that the road be constructed with side drains and others. There are a whole lot of projects in my list.

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Another audacious project is 18, 19 streets through Ohonre, through Adolo, through Evbuotubu, through Uwelu, through Upper Ekenwan Road. It is going to serve as a major by-pass that will connect traffic within that alignment. So, that is why we talked to the people of Evbotubu, they should be patient and let us have this all important by-pass cutting across Evbotubu to Upper Ekenwan then government will listen to them; to look at their internal roads and others.

To me, I score the governor, in terms of infrastructure thematic pillar 90%, drilling down to my specific area of roads development, I also score him 90%. He has done so well with very meagre resources of the state, he has been able to allocate them and use them judiciously. Then, we have been able to distribute these projects in such away that every person in the state benefits from the road development sector of the state.

How much has been budgeted for the major projects?

They have their specific cost items. The cost of the projects will run into billions of naira. You know, inflation has not helped issues, it has doubled the cost of road intervention but Mr. Governor brought his private sector experience to bear in terms of this costing.

So, we are able to segregate the components that make up road construction activities to the extent that he able to tell us that those components that are foreign currency dependent should have their own separate rates, then those road components which are native or indigenous should also have their own separate rates unlike in the past that if you want to apply inflation rates,you apply them generally.

This idea was able to come in and moderate the cost of some of these roads. So, our road projects are still very efficient and it will be one of the most efficient in the country , I can authoritatively state that.

What is your take on the implementation of the present administration’s Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) agenda in the area of Infrastructure development?

Making Edo Great Again is a mantra that ushered in the governor, at least, for his second term. The journey of making Edo great again started in his first term but it became more prominent in his second term bid.

Everything I have reeled out in this interview is to make Edo great again. Constructing efficient roads is part of the journey, if you look at this thematic design here, it depicts the Mini – GRA housing the Government House, the State CID Road and all other. We are going to turn this into master piece, to include cycling paths, street lights, walk ways and drainage systems. So, this is an example of making Edo great again in our own perspective.

You can see it is already drawn, all we want to do now is to sink it with the master plan committee because anything you are doing now under this administration has to be in sync with the master plan. There is a masterplan for Edo State that is being designed by a group of consultants and the regional master planner. So, any significant project you want to do must key into that master plan.

Making Edo Great Again has different aspects. You can’t know it all but one aspect that stands out is the Civil Service Transformation Agenda; a revolution has happened within the civil service but people are actually yet to feel or see it. The civil service has changed, the way we do things have changed.

We now have a civil service that is poised for performance, a focused and efficient civil service, a performance-driven civil service has been ushered in, it is a dawn of a new era for the state civil service. So, all these are all part of making Edo great again. To me, it’s the best thing that has happened to us in Edo State and time will actually testify to this fact.

Can you give an insight into how much has been channeled into infrastructure development under your watch?

The budget of the state is public documents, every citizen of the state and beyond has access to that budget and it is usually read out by Mr. Governor. So, anybody that want to have access to figure on what we have spent can do so.
What was allocated as my own budget has been utilized judiciously but we can point at the projects. They are all on-going and all that. I am only hoping that the incoming budget could be enhanced because there is so much to be done.

What do you wish to add to this interview?

I want to wish Mr. Governor well and I want to pray God to continue to give him strength. He is a gift to this state; he is a gift to this state, and a whole lot of others. I am so happy that he came as governor, he has revolutionalized governance in such a unique way that I know that people will be happier for it at the end of the day. I am only telling him not to relent, he is doing it for God and humanity.

I am a Benin person, this is my own land, I know that we stand to benefit from everything Mr. Governor has done. I wish him happy Alaghodaro anniversary, I wish him more to come. That is all I have.