By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN CITY—GOVERNOR Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, yesterday, declared that neither restructuring nor referendum, as being agitated by some elder statesmen and leaders, will solve the nation’s current problems.
He said the only solution, apart from diversifying the economy of the nation from oil, is for government at all levels to cut costs, asserting that the long convoys being used by government officials are unnecessary and part of the problems militating against the nation’s economic growth.
The governor also warned youths in Gelegele community in Edo State to stop generating crises that may force the government to relocate the proposed Export Processing Zone, EPZ, project in the area, declaring that government will not tolerate further crisis in the area.
Obaseki stated this while delivering a lecture entitled “New Opportunities and New Initiatives for Development,” organised by the Correspondent’s Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Edo State.
The governor, who noted that the problems confronting the nation today was due to misplacement of priorities, said that rather than calling for secession by a section of the country, they should be calling for stoppage of waste in governance “because once that is fixed, Nigeria will be great again.”
According to him, “dwindling oil revenue are now the order of the day. And for us to continue our socio-economic development, the paradigm must change from what we inherited from the civil war.
“So, the bulk of the agitations we are seeing today, whether threats of war, call for restructuring, secession, are results of the evolution of our socio-economic process. Because Nigeria was not always run this way.
“As children in the 60s, there were regions and the regions did not go to the centre to sustain themselves. The regions were self-financing. In fact, some of the regions had their own offices in London at that time and they were able to deal independently with the colonial administration.
“So, Nigeria never started this way, it was the unfortunate incident of the civil war and the role of oil after the civil war that forced us on this condition we found ourselves today.”
He added, however, that the “challenge is not insurmountable, the challenge is not about dismantling Nigeria, because if you dismantle Nigeria into various parts, the same problem will follow them.
“The answer is to sit down and say, let us be realistic to ourselves. Let us understand that the way we are running the country today by making it dependent on one source of revenue is no longer sustainable and, therefore, we must diversify the economy and its politics.
“We must stop wastages. How can government officials be moving with over 20 in a convoy, what for? These are some of the wastages. I promised a future of economic foresight, which will be shaped by the willingness to do the necessary things that will lead us into a new and rapid age of development.
“Therefore, the new initiatives in development in Edo State are woven around the cardinal programmes of my governance, which is the essence of my topic. It is broken into six core areas, infrastructural development, environmental sustainability, culture and tourism, economic revolution, social welfare enhancement and institutional reform.
Chairman of the occasion and business mogul, Capt Hosa Okunbor, who urged other governors in the country to emulate the economic blue print of the Obaseki administration in the state due to the prevailing recession, urged political leaders to support the Obaseki-led administration in the state for the benefit of the people.