My dear good people of Edo State
I stand here today, humbled by your overwhelming endorsement of our collective mission and support for our struggle to refocus, reposition and redefine our dear Edo State for peace, progress and prosperity. With your unparalleled and unflinching support and encouragement we have overcome all obstacles placed on our path as we collectively rejected domination, bad governance, bad leadership, and undemocratic conduct in the management of our commonwealth. Collectively, we set an example and political milestone for Nigeria and Africa as we showed that it was possible to defeat negative political forces, run elections without violence, and campaign on performance and the support of all strata of society.
Special gratitude goes to Almighty God, our creator and benefactor for granting us the wisdom and courage for all our achievement within this period. We pray that the souls of INEC officials who perished in a boat mishap while on duty on election day would rest in perfect peace. There is no doubt whatsoever that it is the generous Grace of God that has seen us thus far and ensured that in our last election, there was not a single injury or loss of life due to violence.
Allow me to pay a special tribute to my late wife, Clara, who stood by my side here on November 12, 2008 during my first inauguration. Today even though she is not physically present, I feel her presence right here as I speak. Not only for the gift of the wonderful children that she gave birth and nurtured for me, but also for her wise counsel and unflinching support through thick and thin. May her gentle soul continue to rest in peace, Amen.
Permit me also to acknowledge the heroic sacrifices of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, my Private Secretary, Fidelis Okhani of AIT, George Okosun and Olatunji Jacobs both of ITV, all of who paid the supreme price during the struggle to renew our mandate. May their good souls rest in peace, Amen. We shall never forget them.
I cannot thank enough the good people of Edo State for their hard work, sacrifice, contributions, courage, and support, throughout this period. I believe I can continue to depend on your wise suggestions, prayers, and criticisms now and in the future.
I give special recognition to members and leaders of our party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for the understanding, support and prayers.
Next, I must thank our Royal Father, His Royal Majesty Omo N’Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, CFR the Oba of Benin. A father of inestimable value, a fair player, a man who values merit and service, who has kept us together in Edo State in peace as one family, I say, a big thank you.
My very special thanks goes to Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, who stood firmly on the principle of one-person-one-vote and thus contributed significantly to a violence-free election in Edo State.
I thank all traditional rulers, chiefs, spiritual leaders, political leaders, women, workers, the youth, security forces, and well-wishers from far and near for their goodwill, prayers and support before, during and after the July 14, elections.
I salute all co-contestants during the election whose roles have helped to deepen and strengthen democracy in our State. We continue to count on your support to take Edo State to the next level. I use this opportunity to invite all of you to join me to transform and reposition our dear State.
My dear people, I believe that it is very critical that we take full advantage of our renewed mandate to build a solid future without forgetting the past. We must realize that at the end of the day, it is our responsibility to leave lasting legacies that will continue to promote the general good.
Our people deserve the best and must therefore not be treated as objects of manipulation, but as citizens that participate robustly in the politics of their communities to advance their interests. It is under such conditions that politics can throw up good leaders, democratic policies and programmes that would benefit our people.
Edo before November 2008
We must constantly remind ourselves of the past in order not to repeat previous mistakes and miscalculations. The history of Nigeria would not be complete without acknowledging the special role of our great State which has recorded landmark achievements and produced world renowned people in all facets of human endeavour, namely tradition and culture, business, sports, administration, education, and quest for social justice. No wonder, Edo state is referred to as the heartbeat of the nation.
Regrettably, in the recent past, the State became riddled with mismanagement, oppression, corruption, poverty, marginalisation of the people, suffocation of civil society, and the general neglect of the basic needs of the masses. There was hardly a difference between the rural and urban centres in terms of planlessness, unemployment, infrastructural deficit and decay, unaccountable leadership, political manipulation, waste and criminal diversion of state resources, and general insecurity. Investors refused to come to Edo State, security forces were overwhelmed, schools and hospitals were dilapidated, workers were not paid as and when due, many retired without benefits, pensioners died without pension and our people just continued to hope against hope. This situation, in a general sense, continued until November 12, 2008 when a new dawn began in Edo State.
The challenges we met were enormous but we were determined. With our hopes, dreams and commitment, anchored in the people, we confronted those challenges head on. These included lack of faith in government, low revenue generation, infrastructural dilapidation, bad political leadership, criminal godfatherism, lack of socio-economic planning, absence of due process, accountability and respect for human rights. I do not need to go into much detail on these matters. Your support and prayers made it possible for us to tame and contain the dark and evil forces of reaction, oppression, exploitation, corruption, and retrogression.
Our scorecard since 2008
Today, we are proud of our scorecard. With all sense of responsibility and humility, we make bold to say that we have comprehensively impacted the lives of our people, in so short a time since the creation of this State. Within our limited resources and in spite of the financial deficits we inherited, we have touched communities and lives across the state. This is not the time to go into specific details though I am sure that virtually all citizens of our dear State have directly enjoyed our newly constructed roads, renovated schools, clinics, hospitals; our water and electricity projects, and the comrade green mass transit buses on our road. We are creating jobs, paying wages as due, supporting Federal Government security agencies, encouraging sports and culture, and rebuilding the courage, dignity and cultural identity of every Edo person.
We are carrying out reforms in all sectors of governance and promoting a culture of respect for ‘value-for-money” in all transactions, respect for public property, beautification of the capital city, modernization of local government headquarters, and promoting political and leadership responsibility and accountability. We have paid special attention to the transformation of the rural areas and the empowerment of women and the youth. The results of our efforts are clear and we have received commendations from within and beyond Nigeria. We have always believed that our people deserve the best and we are committed, as a government, to providing the best at all times for them. I can say without hesitation that the best is yet to come.
Edo into the future: The next four years
In the next four years, we shall continue to rebuild faith in government and governance at all levels; mobilise our people to commit to collective growth and development, and strengthen institutions for efficient and effective service delivery. It is our hope that traditional leaders and institutions as well as religious bodies and civil society groups continue to mobilise their members to complement our efforts. We shall not fail to deliver on all our promises and to complete all on-going projects.
Allow me to say that while we will continue to work on infrastructure, we plan, in the next four years, to place emphasis on promoting sustainable economic growth and development. Our Government will emphasize human capital development, training and retraining of teachers and public servants; promotion of agriculture for food production, employment and increased income to our farmers and rural dwellers; small and medium scale industrial development. We shall continue to attract local and foreign investors to Edo State so as to create more jobs for our people.
We shall continue with to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and ensure that all forms of waste are eliminated in the public service. In collaboration with the security agencies, we shall continue to work hard, to ensure and assure the safety and security of our people. Our goal is to ensure that Edo State becomes a major investors’ haven in Nigeria and that our small and medium scale industries are fed with products from our agricultural initiatives.
Let me pay some brief attention to three issues: agriculture, local government and education. Our goal is increase the gross domestic product (GDP) of Edo State, create jobs for our people and forge strong linkages between agriculture and industry. To achieve this, our government will provide substantial incentives such as provision of rural roads and other incentives to promote large scale commercial agriculture. Emphasis will be placed on productive partnerships, processing and storage that will generate new opportunities for training and income to our small scale industries and farmers.
We are aware that in some local governments, the impact of governance, policies and leadership at the local level has not been visible or felt by the people. We will conduct local government elections early next year. Our focus would be to ensure that qualified, committed, exposed, capable and innovative candidates that will make the required difference in the lives of the people participate. We need men and women that will reinvigorate the communities, deploy resources carefully and strategically, complete on-going projects, stimulate production, and initiate new realistic projects. This would stem migration to the rural areas and encourage productivity at the local levels. Sectors such as health, youth and women empowerment, education, agriculture, rural industries, housing and security must take priority.
The monitoring of the activities and performances of local governments will become a priority of government because it is not a crime to live in the rural areas. Our government will put an end to the era of absentee local government chairmen and design pro-people programmes to make life in the rural areas worth living.
On education, while we shall continue to rebuild school structures across the State, we intend to pay special attention to the content and context of the schools. No markets, drinking joints or hotels would be allowed around the established perimeters of our schools so as to curtail some social vices associated with exposure of our children. Teachers will be monitored to eliminate ghost teachers, lateness, and poor delivery. A special fund will be created to ensure retraining, especially in the area of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). We will emphasize technical education geared towards skill for jobs.
Our schools will be required to establish libraries and reading rooms with computers to broaden the world-views of our children and keep them at par with their contemporaries around the world. A merit scholarship will be established to support indigent but brilliant children to acquire higher education in those areas where we have manpower deficits. The modalities for this are being worked out by the Ministry of Education.
We, the people of Edo State remain totally committed to the unity and progress of Nigeria. Challenges and contradictions are, in the first instance, evidence of leadership failure at all levels as exemplified in the Edo State. This is not the time for lamentations and despair about the future of Nigeria, but time for rekindled patriotism, hard work and collective commitment to build a reunited Nigeria.
To reinforce this process of nation building requires refederalisation and reconstruction of the Nigerian state with due cognisance to the rights and responsibilities of the constituent units in our federal arrangements. We have no doubt whatsoever that only a genuine social economic and political rearrangement will be required to address the numerous challenges confronting our nation today.
Elections are important as vehicles for defining and determining those that ascend to political power periodically in a democracy. However, in the processes leading up to and after elections, politics is about life. The lessons of the recent elections, which produced Barrack Obama for a second term, demonstrate vividly that what matters is the content, vision, programme and commitment of the leadership and the people to do the right thing, regardless of their background or other sentiments.
My dear people of Edo State, four years ago, you freely gave us your mandate with a charge to make a difference to the state and in your lives. We have done all within our powers to do that. Let me again invite all Edolites to be part of this administration and movement to transform and reposition our dear state.
Let us rise beyond primordial sentiments and political divisions to join hands and hearts to move our State to next levels that will guarantee our livelihoods and our future.
Long Live Edo State.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
May God continue to bless us all.
Being the text of the address by Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State at his inauguration for a second term on Monday.