DECLARATION SPEECH OF MR GODWIN OBASEKI FOR GOVERNOR. 13TH MAY 2016, URHOKPOTA HALL, BENIN CITY

Let us all thank the Almighty for bringing us here safely today to witness this historic event. I know that many of you have travelled here from across the state and beyond. I cannot thank you enough.

As many of you know, this event was initially scheduled to take place on the 29th of April. However in light of the transition of our most revered monarch – His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, Oba of Benin, we decided to suspend all campaign activities in honour of our great royal father.
As a mark of honor to His Royal Majesty, who meant and did so much for us in preserving our tradition, history and our respectability in Nigeria, may we rise and observe a moment of silence?

SILENCE
May the Almighty father and the spirits of the ancestors continue to watch over us.
My name is Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki. As I look at every one of you today, I see many faces of friends, family, professional colleagues some of whom I grew up with. This setting brings back fond memories of my childhood going between my paternal grand-father’s house (Chief Gaius Obaseki) on Idahosa street and my maternal grandfather’s house (Pa Elisha Gbinigie) at Owina street, Ogbelaka quarters.

I vividly recall visiting this very Urhokpota Hall on an excursion from Eghosa Anglican Grammar School when we came to see the Edo Masterplan designed by the administration of Samuel Igbemudia in the early 70’s. That was the era I grew up in; an era that provided leadership, vision and hope for our people.

For so long, professionals of Edo State origin in different parts of Nigeria and elsewhere in the World, were reduced to helpless critics because of lack of development occasioned by bad and irresponsible governments at home. The resources and opportunities squandered in the first eight to ten years of the on-going democratic experiment were so inexcusable that members of Edo Unions and Associations in Lagos and abroad began to feel challenged to contribute their expertise directly to the process of governance. Thus, the opportunity came for me to offer service to my State and my people when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, upon successful completion of his tenure as NLC President, decided to contest the governorship election in 2006. Since 2006, from the background, I have supported the renewed efforts to rebuild and reconstruct our Edo State, which was vandalized and almost dislocated by previous administrations.

By the Grace of God, I have held the invisible and hitherto, little known position of the Chairman of the Economic and Strategy Team of Edo State Government for the past seven years and half years supporting the effective leadership of the Comrade Governor of Edo State, Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. This is a position I have held without salary or compensation.

This role has allowed me to understand the challenges facing Edo State and it has also given me the opportunity to serve and contribute to the development of our beloved State.
As many of you would recall, the Administration of Comrade Oshiomhole inherited a State which had been made comatose by a decade of mismanagement, bad policies, failed promises, ruined infrastructure and hopelessness.

From this severe position of underdevelopment, today we can proudly say that government policies and programmes are outcomes of well thought out plans, processes and procedures. With discipline, we have been able to manage the finances of Edo State better; we have involved people and ensured that there is transparency in government; we have improved service delivery to our people through the use of ICT and motivated the civil service.

Some of the results of these internal reforms are evidenced by several successful projects which this government has executed – a lot of which have been completed today. It is evident that our improved Public Financial Management system has ensured that Edo State remains one of the few States in Nigeria that is still able to pay salaries to civil servants, pensions and still meet the financial obligations to all our contractors.

The government of Comrade Oshiomhole undertook one of the greatest revolutions in Education in Nigeria by reconstructing and rebuilding over 50% of primary school infrastructure and over 30% of our secondary school infrastructure within a space of 7 years. We can all bear witness to this Red Roof Revolution.
Almost 1,000Km of roads have been constructed state-wide, including those roads past governments claimed were plagued by marine spirits (mami water) at Teachers House, Uwelu, Asoro, Queen Ede just to name a few.

The ongoing Storm water drainage project was the answer to flooding challenges created by decades of poor urban planning by past governments.
In a couple of months, the new 200 bed wing of the central hospital would make Edo State home to one of the most advanced accident and emergency units in Nigeria.

As a result of the reforms in governance and improvement in infrastructure undertaken by the current administration, Edo State is now poised to be a hub for investment in Nigeria. This is obvious from the almost $2 billion investments which have come in from the Azura Power Plant in Ihovbor/Orhior/ Idunmowina Communities in Uhunwode LGA; Over $1 Billion is being invested in a 6 Million MT cement factory in Estako East LGA by the Dangote Group; Fresh investments by Rubber Estate of Nigeria Ltd (RENL) and Presco Plc in massive Rubber plantations and processing factories in Orhionmwon LGA
As you know, electricity and cement are some of the key building blocks for industrialization and job creation. These investments portend a lot hope for jobs and social stability of Edo State.

However all these strides are still fragile and they need to be consciously strengthened and entrenched. The good news is that what has been achieved by the present administration are the result of painstaking planning done by my Team. We have a design and template for Edo State beyond the life of the current administration.

As the life of this administration comes to an end, we are faced with new challenges. Today, low price of crude oil has reduced the amount of foreign exchange Nigeria earns and our economy is in bad shape. Edo state now gets a lot less from the Federation Account . Consequently, our reality today is Nigeria has to take severe measures in order to fix its economic and social challenges. And Edo State is not an exception.

In the face of this challenge, we need leadership with fresh and original ideas to take on these new challenges, so that we can build on and deepen the successes of the current administration. There is only one course of action- we must be courageous and determined, we must build on and extend the successes of the current administration to achieve the aspirations of Edo State.

I stand before you today on the shoulder of the success of the Comrade Governor. Over the last 7.5 years we have transformed Edo State and achieved what was said to be impossible, however the Edo Project is still a work in progress and we are at the most delicate part of this journey.

We cannot afford any reversals or slowdown in the pace of the achievements we have made to date. There is a lot more that still has to be done- we still have to construct thousands of kilometers of road into rural communities and farms; scores of schools still need to be renovated; we need to further strengthen our service delivery to our people by training and equipping our civil service; we need to address the issue of massive unemployment especially amongst our youths by providing sustainable jobs; we need to give our people more and better access to healthcare if fact there is still so much more to be done.

It will be a huge risk for all of us if we revert political power to those who lack deep understanding of how to link the achievements of the last 7 years with the current situation in Nigeria. What Edo State needs today is someone who has the capacity to raise and access the investments required to build on the past in order to realize the vision.
I am very proud and happy that I have been an integral part of the success and challenges of the last 7 years. The knowledge I have garnered in the last 7.5yrs puts me in a unique position to understand what is required to take Edo State to the next level. After 7.5years in the policy cockpit of Edo State, I believe I can fly Edo State higher

What Edo needs today is a leader who in addition to political sagacity, has the managerial and intellectual experience to manage the State of Affairs in the difficult and precarious situation we find ourselves.
It would be a sin against God and my people to walk away from Edo State with all the knowledge and understanding I have gathered over the last 7.5yrs. It would be unpatriotic not to stand up to be counted because as the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, only the tough get going”.

After over 30 years of successful experience in the Private Sector, over 7 years working in the most successful administration Edo State in recent time; with a childhood forged in the warmth, rich and enduring culture of Edo, with education obtained at home and abroad and with the blessings of God; I would like to put all of these attributes and resources at the disposal to serve my people in Edo State.

I have consulted extensively with elder statesmen, professional colleagues, my colleagues in Government across board, family and friends, political acquaintances in our great party and delegates in our 192 wards.

I stand before you committed to ensuring that the great work that has commenced and successes recorded in our efforts to build an economically viable and formidable Edo state is not only achieved but sustained so that we can provide a guaranteed future for our children, empowerment for our women, happy retirement days for Pensioners, access to capital for our farmers, improved conditions of service for the Civil Service, modern markets for our traders, skills development for our artisans, finance for small and medium scale businesses and deeper involvement of the Traditional Institutions in our collective development agenda.

I therefore formally announce that I will be seeking the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the Party Nomination Congress to fly the flag of APC come September 10, 2016 with a pledge to build an Edo State that has a strong and resilient economy; to provide jobs for our teeming youth and fulfill our social aspirations as a people. I will continue the infrastructure revolution and expand the urban renewal and housing efforts. I will develop world class human resources by improving our educational institutions and make Edo a hub for healthcare in Nigeria. Power, Housing, agriculture and agro processing; mining and extractive industries including petrochemicals; and information technology will form the bedrock on which Edo State would grow its economy and generate jobs and industries.

I have set up a formidable organization to help me realize my ambition to be Governor of Edo State. I am blessed to have to lead my campaign a man who I have a lot of respect for and somebody who I have worked with on the Edo project in the last 8yrs. Barrister Osarodion Ogie – a fine gentleman, an uncommon political strategist and a dedicated party member and team player has accepted to serve as the Director General of the Godwin Obaseki Campaign Organization. He will be ably assisted by Mr. John Aiyevbekpen Osakue – a man with longstanding political credentials.
We have no doubts that these fine gentlemen working with our political leaders will ensure our success at the polls.

I therefore request you all to support me, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki as I contest for the office of Governor of Edo State.

GOD BLESS THE GOOD PEOPLE OF EDO STATE LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA OBA GHATO KPERE. ISE!
Edo, Let’s GO further, Together
Dated 14th May 2016, Benin City