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100 Days: Centennial Musings On Obaseki’s Economic Administration By John Mayaki

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That Mr Godwin Nogheghase
Obaseki’s government in Edo State would be a colossal success should never have
been in doubt. The handwriting had always been on the wall; but those who are
wanting when foresight is being deployed could not have perceived it.

His background in finance and
international business is a pointer to the timeliness of his emergence as
governor, especially seeing as Nigeria is going through such a harrowingly
inflationary strait in its financial affairs. In times as these, when virtually
every state economy in the country seems headed for the rocks, it will require
nothing more than a skilled economist and leader at the helms of affairs, and
compliantly adjuvant people to sail against the tide and pull through.
Barring an insignificant number
of unhappy partisans, there is already enough belief in Governor Obaseki’s
capability to move Edo to the next level. The Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo
Uku’ Akpolokpolo Ewuare II paid him a visit and said he would support his
administration.
In addition, religious leaders in
the state have also promised to work with him to address and rectify the issue
of children roaming about the street and engaging in unprofitable ventures. By
so doing, the aim is to create an enabling environment for children to make
something of themselves in Edo State.
The major stakeholders in the
state, the judiciary and legislature, have also shown support. The diligence and
zeal with which the legislature worked on and passed the 2017 appropriation
bill, also known as the budget of consolidation and prosperity is testament to
their support. Both the outgoing and newly appointed Chief Justice of Edo State
also expressed support for Governor Godwin Obaseki, with the governor also
realising the need to renovate and refurbish the premises of the Edo State High
Court in Benin City as well as to create incentives that can attract more
judges to Edo State. 
However, Governor Obaseki is no
neophyte to economic administration. He was Chairman of Edo State Government’s
Economic and Strategy Team from March 17, 2009 under Governor Adams Oshiomole,
a position he held pro bono.
He accomplished a great deal
while he held that office, and has drafted a template to adopt that economic
profile and constitute a government of continuity. This continuity is not, as
many overfretting critics opine, a replication of the Oshiomhole-led
administration.
Ab initio, it may have been permissible
to think such would be the case seeing as not many critics have the forbearance
to accord leaders the benefit of doubt. However, after 100 days, surely it is
clear to every critic that while Obaseki respects former Governor Adams
Oshiomole, he is not going to replicate his administration.
Broadly speaking, he has realised
the need to adopt the same progressive mentality. He has also keyed into
specific philosophies like the need to export products and not people as a
state, the need to look to agriculture as an alternative source of income, the
need to overhaul and electrify the educational system so that young ones don’t
go to school amiss, and so on. One only needs to listen to the governor speak
or read his budget and new year speeches to have a good grasp of what
continuity he is really aiming to pursue.

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To facilitate an increase in
export and to generate extra revenue from it, then the state needs to be
producing more than it can consume. The thrust of Obaseki’s economic policies
has considered this factor and is setting about developing talents within the
state.
First, upon realising that the
youths that could have been deployed to drive production, are feeling more at
home at thuggish endeavours. Prior to his stance on manual collection of tax, many
youths in Edo State were involved in partisan thuggery and collection of
revenue. The governor, in less than 100 days has indicated a firm interest in putting
a stop to that.
He ordered a cessation on manual
collection of taxes and he even introduced a waiver system of up to 50 percent
for defaulting taxpayers. He then commissioned a committee to look into electronic
means as an alternative to the manual system of collecting tax. This new
electronic method, when adopted, will provide employment for up to 10,000
youths.
Subsequently, he organised an
agribusiness conference in which stakeholders in the agricultural sector were
invited in order to strategize how to rejig and revivify the agricultural sector.
This is of course even as he had earlier set up an agricultural committee with
a target to create about 80,000 jobs.
Then the big one; the Gelegele
Seaport. According to the governor, “The importance of developing the Gelegele
sea port cannot be overemphasized. Apart from the historical importance,
Gelegele seaport still has a significant role to play in the future of the
economic development of Edo. It will lead to promotion of trade and commerce
and employment, lead to significant infrastructure development within the host
community and its environs”.
The wealth that can be generated
from the Gelegele Seaport when it is operational is immense. Every student of
history knows that trade plays a great part in the formation of many of the
greatest kingdoms and empires in history. In just hundred days, Governor Obaseki
has gone to inspect the seaport even as it now lies defunct and temporarily
barren. He has also constituted a committee to supervise the development of the
seaport while he himself has already gone on a trip to China to meet with
investors and woo them to set up in Benin.
That this musing is even possible
is a reflection of the transparency of the Obaseki-led administration. He has
recognised the importance of the people in a democratic government and has
accordingly opted to carry them along. Indeed, Governor Obaseki not satisfied
with his government’s transparency, revealed plans to improve his government’s
communication structure.  
The governor has accomplished so
much in so little time and this is a commendable thing. It will not be out of
place to rub the palms together gleefully and lick the lips in anticipation of
what the governor can possibly achieve at the end of four years.
For now though, the trajectory of
his administration reveals that it is considerably dependent on the people. He
has adopted what may be described as a transactional style of leadership and so
the people of Edo State have a key role to play in its success. For those who
wish the state well, let them put aside their differences, muse on his
achievements in 100 days, and work together to make Edo great again.
Mr. John
Mayaki is Chief Press Secretary to Governor Godwin Obaseki

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