than three years into his first term as Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, with his governance style, has etched his name in Edo people’s hearts even as his brand of politics is gaining grounds speedily despite the odds posed by the old politics of entitlement and gratification, without any value addition.
His approval ratings in the streets are at an all time high, over 80 per cent, as he continues to change public perception of governance with his insistence on putting Edo people and residents first as well as doing more and talking less.
Obaseki’s resolve to frugally apply the state’s resources to critical sectors such as education, health, infrastructure, job creation programmes, civil service reforms amongst others, has put the state on the path of prosperity. He has altered the old political order with a commitment not to fritter Edo people’s resources. Instead he has adopted policies and programmes that are empowering millions of Edo people economically and socially.
This rare stance resonates with millions of Edo people, who have since rolled up their sleeves to fight on the side of the governor, in the battle to take the state from a few greedy individuals who want to feed fat on the state’s resources.
As proof of the people’s growing support for the governor, they handed Obaseki his first victory in the last local government election, in which the All Progressives Congress (APC) cleared all the chairmanship and councillorship seats in the 18 local councils.
Same landslide victory was repeated in the last house of assembly election. The 24 available seats were won by the APC.
His impressive management of the state’s resources dominates conversations across the state.
Obaseki’s large-hearted and civil disposition to governance, accommodation of opposing views and criticisms as well as his firm belief in the oneness and progress of all Edo people, irrespective of their political leanings and convictions, class and stature, have continued to endear him to millions of people in the state and beyond.
The governor’s progressive politics has been seen at play in the way he resolves very complex and knotty issues.
One of such knotty issues was the resolution of the issues around the Ojuromi of Uromi, His Royal Highness, Anselm O. Aidonojie II.
Obaseki re-instated the traditional ruler and extended his developmental programmes to Esan land, a major power bloc in Edo State politics.
The resulting goodwill and open governance style created inroads for the APC in Edo Central Senatorial District, a former stronghold of the opposition party.
The growing public appeal of Obaseki’s governance model also stems from the even distribution of infrastructure and impactful programmes across the nook and cranny of the three senatorial districts.
The ‘Wake and See’ sobriquet, which amplifies the Obaseki brand among his millions of followers, continues to reverberate across all parts of the state as more people wake up daily to witness the construction of new roads, bridges, revamped schools, health centres, in areas far flung from the city centre, and where no influential politicians reside.
Obaseki has redefined governance with his people-centric governance style and the positive reviews and commentaries over his brand of politics have cast him in the mould of the late Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia and the late Prof. Ambrose Alli.
As the Edo State governor’s positive ratings soar, Governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) recently elected him Vice Chairman of the APC Governors Forum.
The move according to the governors, is to strengthen their league and tap from Obaseki’s rich boardroom experience and people-centric politics, that have made Edo one of the best performing states in the country.
For example, Edo currently is in the lead in the ease of doing business reforms. Basic education reforms and efforts to bring an end to human trafficking in the state, have been applauded by the World Economic Forum, the European Union and several national governments.
Current statistics put the number of illegal migrants entering Italy from Nigeria at 10 people per day, from the former figure of 1000 per day, where Edo State accounts for 60 per cent of the ugly trend.
The significant drop in the figures of illegal migrants from Edo has been linked to the far-reaching work of the Obaseki-led administration, in partnership with the traditional institution and other stakeholders to nip the problem in the bud.
On the giant strides of the governor in the education sector, the World Economic Forum in its recent report said: “The governor of Edo State is becoming an international symbol of successful public-sector education transformation. Godwin Obaseki has become a trailblazer, quickly and dramatically lifting the quality of government schools and upskilling teachers in his low-income state”.
The forum added: “He has described his reforms – known as EdoBEST – as a means of boosting the economy and improving people’s life chances. Institutions such as the World Bank and the IFC have been looking at how Obaseki has so effectively reformed state education in only one year.”
Obaseki’s empowerment initiatives such as the Edo Production Centre, the Edo Innovation Hub and the Agriculture cluster have put Edo youths to work and transforming their lives.
His clean politics has continued to endear leaders of opposition political parties to the governor. Recently, some prominent leaders in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) such as Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Chief Tom Ikimi and Chief Osamede Adun, popularly known as Bob Izua, visited the governor and hailed his pro-people policies, programmes and openness to ideas and contributions from the constituents.
For these political actors and millions of Edo people and residents, Obaseki does not need any aggressive campaign to secure a second term in office.
Though the gubernatorial election in Edo State is still over a year from now, Edo people are angling to sustain the transformation they have witnessed under Obaseki in the last two years and a half.
Professionals, artisans and market women, many of whom have never voted before, have vowed to cast their votes for Obaseki in the 2020 governorship election.
According to these Obaseki’s supporters, “the governor’s policies of inclusiveness guarantee better life for women, children, the unemployed and vulnerable groups as well as victims of human trafficking.”
As the governor adds another year to his age, what better way to celebrate his impact on the lives of Edo people.
– Osagie is Special Adviser to Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy