Dear friends and fellow citizens of Edo State.
I stand before you this morning, honoured and elated by the opportunity and privilege that the people of Edo State have given me by your collective democratic decision to guide the ship of our Great Edo State for the next four years as we set new sails into an unknown but promising future. But before I go any further, I wish to specially give glory to God for seeing us through a very peaceful election where the true will of the people has prevailed. I have the rare honour and pride of being sworn in today barely a fortnight after His Royal Majesty Omo NÓba NÉdo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, 40th Oba of Benin Kingdom. The honour that this fortuitous coincidence bestows on me will always be a constant reminder of the enormity of the task I assume today which is to guide the pursuit of the good and well-being of the people of Edo State with relentless vigour, uncompromising commitment and diligence. I am humbled by the profound honour and pride of succeeding a Governor who in the last eight years provided dedicated, inspired, fearless and indefatigable leadership and transformed our Great State in ways most people, considered impossible. Taking the reigns of office from our one and only Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, my leader and mentor, who is also leader and mentor of many of us is an honour that I will always treasure. I will always respect and hold very dear his love, trust, confidence, counsel and inspiration. Comrade Governor, I want to thank you, here in the presence of all the people and before the whole world for being the leader you have been for the people of Edo State, for the wisdom with which you have pursued our common interests and well-being, for being all that you have been to me. I want to assure you that as we take over today from where you stopped, I have resolved to build on your legacy. The responsibility for leading the march of the people of Edo State to greater tomorrow is mine, my Deputy Governor’s and that of the government I will be announcing shortly. We take that leadership responsibility seriously with total commitment and with a full and sober understanding of the enormity of doing so. We have come a long way under my predecessor. Many of the fundamentals for major socio-economic development have been put in place. We need to strengthen and expand the infrastructure that has been established so that we have a solid foundation on which to build the New Edo State of our passionate Dream. By infrastructure I refer not only to the physical infrastructure, namely the roads, utilities and facilities, but infrastructure in its widest sense. We also need to build and sustain a robust human, intellectual, philosophical and even metaphysical infrastructure for without them it is virtually impossible to attain significant progress and derive the extraordinary value that we desire from our efforts so as to build the Great Edo State we all yearn for. To this end, during the campaign I declared that my mission was to achieve prosperity for our people by progressing the work of those who have come before me. Today, as we begin our journey together to build this New Edo State and I want to repeat and reaffirm that promise without deviation, hesitation or prevarication. To accomplish this, I have pledged: 1. To focus on job creation. We have promised to create over 200,000 new jobs in the next 4 years and we will achieve this by leveraging our comparative advantages and key factor endowments in production and commerce. Specifically, we will focus on agriculture and agribusiness value chain, entrepreneurship, investments in industries and technical and vocational skills. We will also fill vacancies in the Civil service and optimise the job creation potentials in infrastructure development. Agriculture Agriculture is a major focus in our socio-economic programme because of its strategic importance in many areas, from rural development, economic development and job creation to critical revenue generation and job creation. Many Edo people will generate wealth by keying into our value chain development of oil palm, cassava, cocoa, grains, rubber, fruits and vegetables. We will create over 150,000 jobs within the next 4 years under a farm ownership and management model built around our out-growers’ scheme. We will support the growth of over 20,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with the further creation of over 50,000 associated jobs in the nest 4 years through access to low interest financing. Development of Industries We will utilize the advantage which we have in generating electricity and our location as the heartbeat of the nation to attract industries to Edo State. 1 We will help local businesses particularly SMEs by creating the enabling environment for them to thrive; 2. The Edo State Government will establish a one-stop-shop to provide incentives and support to make it easier for our people to produce goods and services; 3. We will focus on improving the ease of doing business and provide credit enhancements for businesses operating within the state with special attention on the productive industries. Infrastructure Expansion We will consolidate the gains of the last eight years by continuing the infrastructure revolution and urban renewal initiatives. We will continue to improve and expand education infrastructure to ensure that education is available to all Edo children. We will equally pay attention to the development of our intra-City road network to enhance urban dwelling comfort and ease traffic circulation and complete ongoing projects. Women Empowerment We are aware that our development and social upliftment plans will be more successful if we pay attention to the empowerment of women, particularly as majority of small-scale businesses in the state are owned and run by women. In addition, given that a healthy woman breeds an equally healthy and prosperous community, we will take the education and development of the girl child very seriously. Some of the intervention schemes our government will launch will be under the leadership of women with improved access to low-interest rate financing. Education In the very important area of education, we will continue to strive to improve the quality of education to our children and improve our school curriculum. There will be renewed focus on technical and vocational education. Information and Communications Technology Information and Communication Technology is key component to achieving our objectives and we will make broad band proliferation a top priority in our infrastructure development. Health Health is a compelling area as without good health we cannot pursue any of our dreams. We want to make Edo a centre for excellence in healthcare and will partner with the private sector and international agencies to reposition our health care institutions. In addition to providing excellent and affordable health services, my government will focus on preventive medicine as it is better not to get ill than to seek a cure once we are ill. Security law and order are paramount if we are to achieve our goals and deliver on our promises. My predecessor has accomplished a lot in this area. I plan to extend these gains even further, deploying wherever possible and affordable, the best of science and technology and involve our communities more. The entrenchment of law and order across the state, speedy resolution of dispute, support to the police and strengthening of our criminal justice system are pivotal to our success. Tax Reforms Bearing in mind our economic development initiatives which we will commence immediately and the role of taxation in state development; we will implement a pocket friendly tax regime and grow our tax base on the back of increased economic activities. Our plan is not to increase taxes but to ensure that citizens eligible to pay tax do so and see value for their tax remittances. Our government would be meticulous and prudent with every kobo generated by the people of Edo State made to continue to work for the people. I wish to reiterate and reaffirm these pledges and promises before you this morning not only in faithfulness to the promises I made during the campaign, but, more importantly, as a statement of the agenda we have crafted to fulfil our mission. In the same vein, those who competed against us for the privilege of guiding the destiny of this great state also articulated ideas and programmes genuinely intended to transform the state and the conditions of our people. We do not have, do not claim to have, and, for that matter, do not wish to have, a monopoly on what is good for Edo State and its people. Edo State belongs to all of us, wherever you hail from, whatever your pedigree, whatever your ideology, or, for that matter, whatever your political affiliation. Our destiny is defined by our common purpose and any good leadership will, after a hard-fought campaign, take the trouble to gather all the ideas that have been articulated by all parties, crystallize them and integrate them into the Grand Agenda for the transformation of our common good and well-being. We have studied and will continue to study these ideas and seek with diligence to select what holds promise for our people and our State and seek to integrate them into our agenda for our common good. The task ahead, however, is not government’s alone. We are in this together to bring enviable change to Edo State devoid of political, religious or ethnic differences. My dear people of Edo State, it is another refreshing dawn but I emphasize that it is an enormous task ahead of us and count on your continuous goodwill and support to make Edo the state of our dreams, truly, the Heart Beat of Nigeria. I thank our President, Muhammadu Buhari, for his leadership and commitment to the principles of democracy and accountability. I profoundly thank my indefatigable team. What could I have done without your dedication and hard work? I will also like to thank, our great Party the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its leadership for the opportunity to fly the Party’s flag and now be Governor on the platform of our great party. To our numerous women groups, our youth, artisans, road transport workers, religious bodies, pensioners, Edo State Civil Service and others too numerous to mention, you have been truly inspirational in the journey so far and we will continue to count on your support. I am sincerely grateful to you, my friends and well-wishers across the state, country and overseas. Your goodwill at various levels have been a source of inspiration. To my dear family, particularly my lovely wife, I am most grateful for the love, care, understanding and motivation. Thank you for always being there. Finally, to all of you wonderful people of Edo State, I thank you again for believing in me, for entrusting me with our collective resources and making me our custodian of hope for a better tomorrow. I am looking forward to you to make our government accountable every step of the way. As we have always said, our message is simple – Let’s go further, TOGETHER. Our work starts immediately. God continue to bless Edo State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.