Governor Godwin Obaseki
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki says his administration’s fight to stop “warlords and non-state actors” is one of the reasons some powerful forces in the state are against him.
However, Obaseki said at a meeting with the Benin Elders Forum in Benin on Friday his administration would not yield to threats and intimidation in its bid to prevent the resources of the state from being looted by corrupt individuals. He said, “You are all witnesses to what is happening and I am sure that you will ask what exactly is going on. When the change occurred in 2016, I had no doubt in my mind to jump into the train to continue the reforms which we had started, but what I didn’t realise was that the rot was so deep and fundamental. It was not just a rot in physical expression, it was becoming cultural.
“You could not drive through the city because we had warlords that had taken possession of everywhere. In fact, when we had to clear Lagos Street, we found out that people had erected stores and shops on the street. It then became clear that there was a lot more work to do.”
The governor added, “I just could not understand why Oredo Local Government Area, for instance, could not earn more than N5m in taxes monthly. Meanwhile, there were non-state actors who were celebrating having billions in their private bank accounts at the expense of the government. Once I came in, these non-state actors began to almost physically threaten the state and I had no choice but to dislodge them in good faith.
“I thought this was something we had all agreed to do; I thought we were happy that now we can drive through Oba Market; I thought we were all comfortable with the sanity in the city. But today what do we have? A fightback from these characters and they are getting support from sources you can’t believe. How can you have a city and it is only those who refused to go to school and have turned themselves into thugs that want to dominate our polity? How can we have progress?”
Obaseki, who said his administration would not relent in transforming the economic fortunes of Edo people, said, “In all the things I am hearing, nobody has been able to tell me what exactly the policy issues are. Is it that ensuring you build infrastructure at the right price is not the right thing to do? Or building roads is not the right thing to do? Or is trying to get more resources of the state to work for the people not the right thing to do? Is paying teachers and strengthening the education sector not the right thing to do?
“If we must develop, we must begin to grow the yam seed rather than eat it. We are four million people today. In another 10 or 20 years there will be about 10 million people. So, what’s the plan for the future? We will continue in our developmental strides as long as they impact on the lives of the ordinary Edo people.”
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress on Friday replaced its suspended Publicity Secretary, Christian Azebamwan, with Joseph Osagiede pending the next congress of the party.
In a statement by the Assistant Secretary, Ikuenobe Anthony, the party said in line with Article 17 (vi) of the APC Constitution it “unanimously nominated Osamudiame Edekere and Osagiede to act as secretary and publicity secretary respectively until the next congress”.