By Crusoe Osagie
Since Governor Godwin Obaseki kicked-off the implementation of his governance blueprint in Edo State, indigenes are faced with an intriguing uncertainty of what they are going to wake up to every morning when dusk turns to dawn.
Today, you drive through Edebiri Street and have to wade through two huge craters on that road just before emerging at Joromi Street, by Garrick Memorial Secondary School, on the way to Idumwun Ogieka area. But the next day, you are rushing out of your house to get on with your activities of the day and you set out on the same route but behold, two huge earth-moving equipment are on the site to cordon off the same Edebiri Street on which the only impediment to movement the previous day were the failed portions of the road.
Miffed by the seeming interruption of your journey, you get down from your vehicle to see the cause of the obstruction, it is Obaseki again, his road builders have completely cleaned up the dilapidated portions of Edebiri you had struggled with the day before, fixed it and cordoned it off with construction equipment stamped with reflective signs saying: ‘road temporarily closed’, awaiting the remediation materials to dry up, so that the road will be ready for public use again. This real scenario painted about Edebiri Street is only a mirror image of numerous other infrastructure rehabilitation and construction work going on through out the state.
Go to Ben Oni Street, Gappiona, Second Ugbor, Ikokpan, Lucky Way, Oba Market Road; Agbonma Street, Goodwill Street, Erediauwa Street, Asabor Avenue, Ogbeifun Street, and several others, the story of reconstruction and repair of infrastructure is the same.
Like is the case with the average Nigerian, we are quick to find a fitting name to portray the characteristics exhibited by people around us. For Obaseki, the ordinary man in the state has fondly named him the ‘Wake and See’ Governor. In other words, when you go to bed each night, you are certain to wake up to one new development initiative or the other being implemented the next day.
The list of these initiatives to which the Edo people have daily woken up to is endless. One, worthy of mention is the Clean Up Edo project which has left Ring Road, the centre of the city in the sanest state that it has ever been in the last three decades.
To achieve this sanity in the city centre, illegal structures standing in unauthorised positions and impeding the smooth movement of people and vehicles have been brought down, in some cases overnight, in the same manner that has resulted in the appellation of ‘Wake and See’ governor which is the way Edo people now fondly refer to their beloved governor.
Land-grabbing is History
Land grabbing and violent tussle over land which had unfortunately become part of life in Edo State, resulting in serious oppression, harassment, killings and deprivation of rights to develop landed properties that were legally acquired have been banished by Obaseki through the Community Development Association (CDA) law which is being vehemently enforced by a former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, through the Private Property Protection Law also introduced by the governor.
Eyes on Sustainable Power Supply
In the next four years or so, of every unit of electricity generated in Nigeria, 25 per cent of it will be generated in Edo State.
If you think this is mere wishful thinking then you need to pay a visit to the Azura-Edo Independent Power Project (IPP), a 450MW Open Cycle Gas Turbine power station being constructed near Benin City. It is Phase one of a 1,500MW IPP facility located on a 100 hectare site, large enough to accommodate future expansion of the power plant.
There is also an arrangement with Siemens Power and Gas Limited, which has reached an advanced stage to generate 1000MW of electricity in the state over the next four years, as well as the Ossiomo Power project that will yield 5MW to power mostly government offices and establishments.
The projection is that in four years, one in every four Mega Watts of power produced in Nigeria will be generated in Edo State.
Considering that Edo is not one of those receiving massive amounts of revenue from the federal government due to hydrocarbon derivation, these achievements and accomplishments are simply the product of vision borne out of a beautiful mind sharpened by vast global business experience which is rare to come by but Edo State is most fortunate to have in the person of Governor Obaseki.
An Economically Viable State
The question of the economic viability of most states in Nigeria has more or less received only passive consideration.
This issue which is invariably of critical significance, certainly deserves more pragmatic and fact-based analysis.
A recent report brought an often trivialised topic to the fore, getting discerning minds to spare a thought at least for the sustainability of around 80 per cent of the nation’s federating states and Nigeria in general.
The report published by Economic Confidential, focused on what it termed the Annual States Viability Index (ASVI) which showed that 14 states in the country are insolvent as their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in 2016 were far below 10 per cent of their Federation Account Allocations (FAA) in the same year.
The index, carefully and painstakingly computed proved that without the monthly disbursement from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), many states remain unviable and cannot survive.The IGR are generated by states through Pay-As-You-Earn Tax (PAYE), Direct Assessment, Road Taxes and revenues from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA)s.
The report further indicated that the IGR of Lagos State of N302bn was higher than that of 30 States put together excluding Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Edo, Kwara and Delta States whose IGRs were very impressive at more than 30 per cent of their FAA each. The 30 other states merely generated a total of N258bn in 2016.
Recently, Economic Confidential also published the total allocation received by each state in Nigeria from the Federation Account Allocation (FAA) between January to December 2016, revealing that only Lagos and Ogun States generated more revenue than their allocations from the Federation Account by 169 per cent and 127 per cent respectively and no other state had up to 100 per cent of IGR to revenue from the federal government.
The IGR of the 36 states of the federation totalled N801.95 billion in 2016 as compared to N682.67 billion in 2015, an increase of N119.28 billion.
The report also provides shocking discoveries to the effect that 14 states which have less than 10 per cent IGR may not stay afloat outside the Federation Account Allocation due to socio-political crises including insurgency, militancy and herdsmen attacks, as well as lack foresight in revenue generation drive coupled with arm-chair governance.
The states that may not survive without the Federation Account due to poor internal revenue generation according to the report include Borno which realised a meagre N2.6bn compared to a total of N73.8bn it received from the FAA in 2016 representing about 4 per cent. Others are: Ebonyi with IGR of N2.3bn compared to FAA of N46.6bn representing 5 per cent; Kebbi N3.1bn compared to FAA of N60.88bn representing 5.14 per cent; Jigawa with N3.5bn compared to N68.52bn of FAA representing 5.15 per cent and Yobe with IGR of N3.24nn compared to N53.93bn of FAA representing 6.0 per cent within the period under review.
Other poor internal revenue earners are Gombe which generated N2.94bn compared to FAA of N46bn representing 6.26 per cent; Ekiti N2.99bn compared to FAA of N47.56bn representing 6.28 per cent; Katsina N5.54bn compared to FAA of N83bn representing 6.65 per cent and Sokoto N4.54bn compared to FAA of N65.97bn representing 6.88 per cent.
Meanwhile Lagos State remained steadfast in its number one position in IGR with a total revenue generation of N302bn compared to FAA of N178bn which translate to 169 per cent in the twelve months of 2016. It is followed by Ogun State which generated IGR of N72.98bn compared to FAA of N57bn representing 127 per cent.
Others with impressive IGR include Rivers with N85bn compared to FAA of N134bn representing 63 per cent; Edo with IGR of N23bn compared to FAA of N59bn representing 38 per cent. Kwara State however with low receipt from the Federation Account greatly improved in its IGR with N17bn compared to FAA of N49bn representing 35 per cent, while Delta posted IGR of N44bn compared to FAA of N126bn representing 36.88 per cent.
Meanwhile, the report noted that the IGR of the respective states can be improved through aggressive diversification of the economy to productive sectors rather than relying on the monthly Federation Account revenue that largely comes from the oil sector.
Obaseki Deserves Accolades
Having reviewed these figures from Economic Confidential, it is necessary to connect the dots and recall that for the most part of 2016 which the report examined, Governor Obaseki was the head of the economic management team of Edo State. He had held this position for some years. During his tenure as the Chairman of the Economic and Strategic Team of the state, he designed and implemented the template that propelled Edo State to the league of states with very high efficiency in internal revenue generation, resulting in the feat that has placed Edo among the likes of Lagos, Ogun and Rivers in economic viability.
Therefore, as the talented yet, humble global leader, Edo son and dynamic governor adds another year today, even though he has advised that no adverts be placed in newspapers to honour him due to the huge cost, rather that such funds be donated to charities, it is only fair to draw the peoples attention to his uncommon commitment to the task of governance towards transforming the lives of Edo people.
Hearty congratulations to Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the unassuming ‘Wake and See’ Edo State governor.