Obaseki N’ Shaibu N’ Edo Hia!
By John Mayaki
The news of the “panorama” organized by the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday in Benin City, where its standard-bearer, economist Godwin Obaseki and running-mate, Comrade Philip Shaibu gave a peep into a 200,000-job Armada in Edo State is the topic at home-abroad – but the influx of Edo indigenes that would return home without the space to contain them is at the heart of the matter.
Panoramically, the flag-off wasn’t in short of eminences. Colour and gallantry were in full supply and shone in the array of personalities such as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State, Abdulahi Ganduje of Kano State, Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State as well as deputy governors of Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Borno, Kwara, Kogi and Oyo states.
The day also afforded the duo of Obaseki and Shaibu to extract prayers and endorsement from those who matters – custodians of our revered tradition – and trust, the potency of blessings received from the Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, His Royal Highness (Amb) Eheneden Erediauwa sent quivers into the camp of the Peoples’ Democratic Party – a party smarting from the political shell shock.
However, this outing is not about politics but appreciation of what is on ground for which the man-of-the-moment – Godwin Obaseki wants to build upon – though, few doubted the do-ability – we sure must co-habit with doubting-Thomases.
Quickly, for the implementation framework of the 200,000 Job-Armada, the lawmaker who is Obaseki’s running-mate, Philip Shaibu, has to, immediately, put on his thinking-cap and go to the drawing board on how to send an Executive Bill to the Assembly to amongst others, manage the spiral effects – the expected crisis of hike in price of land, sky-rocketed cost of rents, among other social safety nets – in expectation that a huge number of our jobless-Diasporans – if any, and or, “am-tired-working-for-oyibo” indigenes abroad who may have been contemplating reactivating their return-tickets, return home.
Am sure you are already aware – Obaseki led a team of highly dedicated professionals and technocrats in the progressive government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as Chairman, Edo State Economic Team for about eight years running.
Also, you know it may not be possible for a government to build industries across the state and turn the economy around within a short time of eight years. There are however quick-wins that a serious government – such as this – can undertake to achieve stunning results to the acclaim of a famished people. In other words, there are opportunities that a government can exploit immediately they present themselves to boost the living standards of the people. These opportunities will always present themselves in the life of every administration and whatever an administration makes of such opportunities depends on that administration’s policy thrust as powered by its economic team.
Bottomline is, even a bad situation can be quickly turned around by a government that thinks on its feet. That is what Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole has succeeded in doing in Edo in his little more than seven years of being in charge. Today, the result is there for all to behold.
The governor had stated from the onset that governments have no business running industries but creating the enabling environment for investors. Indeed, he had stated that his primary focus was to ensure that businesses thrive through the creation of enabling climate. Today, the proof of that conventional wisdom is the avalanche of private sector industries dotting the entire length and breadth of Edo State – thanks to the vastly improved environment for doing business which his policies have brought about.
As they say – the proof of the pudding is in the eating. That the industrialization policies are impacting positively on the socio-economic landscape of the state is no longer in contention. The fact that multinationals like Dangote Group of Companies, Yong Xing, Wells Farms, Bua Group, Azura power among others have registered their presence in the state goes beyond mere acknowledgement of the changing times but of the immense possibilities in the future. To be sure, some of these investments come under public-private-partnership initiative of the state government; others are wholly private sector driven. Together, the state is the richer for it.
Never mind that dearth of statistics has remained the bane of the nation, it is projected that no less than 100,000 job opportunities have been created over the course of the last seven years under the Oshiomhole administration. These jobs cut across the public and private sector just as they straddle information and communications technology, health and social welfare and other sectors of the state’s economy.
Some of the jobs directly created are in the Information and Communication Technology Agency, the Board of Internal Revenue, Edo State University, Central Hospital among others including the Civil Service. These agencies among others, have employed and continue to employ thousands of youths many of whom would have remained in the labour market were these opportunities not opened up to them. That is not all – the state government has retooled Central Hospital to a Five-Star Hospital; built a new university all of which would further boost economic activities of the state and its people.
Today, the state can count its chicks in the spin-off from private investment promotion. Wells Farm alone for instance, promises to employ over 80,000. Ditto Bua and Dangote both of which are also looking at employing thousands of youths just as Okpella Cement factory has employed several youths and still counting. Yong Xing and Azura power have also employed and will continue to employ youths in their thousands. Add to this the fact that workers in the public service are earning salaries as at when due; the pensioners are of course not left out. Taken together with the newly engaged workers in the various companies all of whom are now contributing actively to the economy, the state’s rising profile under its current helmsman is better appreciated.
For Obaseki, “this is as a result of the reforms in governance and improvement in infrastructure undertaken by the current administration”. He said, “Edo State is now poised to be a hub for investment in Nigeria and this is obvious from the close to $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”.
This is where the effects multiplier comes in. To bring the picture of the concept clearer home, it refers to the increase in final income arising from any new injection of spending.
In simple terms, if the beneficiaries of the different opportunities being created in the state, for example, opt to complete the building of their new houses with their salaries, the project injects extra demand and output into the economy of the state.
Imagine that not a few businesses including architects, suppliers of blocks, sand, water, iron rods, wood etc. will benefit directly or indirectly from the beneficiaries’ expenditure. The building of a new house, in other words, generates a new flow of income which includes wages and profits. The workers in turn engage drycleaners or washer men, lesson teachers, mechanics, artisans among others. They pay rents, if they are not building their homes. As for companies that have opened up in the state, their various host communities will benefit not just in terms of tremendous exposure but also in terms of increase housing needs and other infrastructure.
As would be expected, the net effects of the development will extend beyond the frontiers of the state to neighbouring states. After all, economists will argue that when income is spent, the spending becomes someone else’s income which in turn stimulates another wave of demand and supply spawning investment by individuals, construction firms and business entities, not least saving by households – and ultimately the national GDP. The resultant boost in the GDP is called the multiplier effect.
Truth is – it seems fairly easy to appreciate the direct impact of the physical engagement of the workers in terms of their salaries and wages. This is a far cry from the multiple impacts spawned by the hospitable environment deliberately promoted by the Oshiomhole administration. It is in the understanding of the linkages that justice is done to the Oshiomhole legacy.
Today, economic potentials of Edo State have grown to humongous proportions – thanks to the creative policies of the Oshiomhole administration. Aside attracting investors to the state, there is no doubt that the foundation for the future has been firmly laid. In years to come, citizens of Edo State will certainly remember the Oshiomhole years not just in glowing terms but specifically as the golden years of its industrial transformation.
This is where Obaseki comes in – the job-Armada – to within four years, create over 200,000 new jobs across the state through agriculture, entrepreneurship schemes, attracting investments for the development of industries and technical and vocational skills development.
There is a caveat – for those who think this is impossible, Obaseki has opened a window – to publish a template to be jointly used by the public and the civil society to track the achievement of this objective – the 200,000 job-Armada by Obaseki N’ Shaibu N’ Edo State.