#Talk2GovObaseki: Full Transcript Of Governor Obaseki’s Social Media Chat
On 100 Days In Office
I started to plan for my first day in office, and how to approach them, and therefore immediately we were sworn in on the 12th of November, I just set to work.
I am convinced that Edo and Nigeria can work and that the promises we made can be fulfilled. So in a nutshell, the last 100 days, has been ones in which I have tried to as much I can, to touch on what I felt the key issues were or are in Edo.
On Issue of the 200,000 jobs, promised during his campaign promise-its feasibility
Yes, it is feasible, this week, we are rolling out Edo Job initiatives where training has commenced for the officers, we intend to deploy to across the state to register unemployed people, to register people who want jobs. That training was concluded yesterday Saturday, from Monday, they will be going around the 18 local government Areas of Edo State. We want to understand the size of the problem, how many people want work, what sort of qualifications do they have, what experience do they have if any, so that it will help us in planning for work for them, giving all the initiatives, which we are currently contemplating. So I believe that we can in four years provide, we have started in many areas even though little, you were driving through here now you see all the cars lined up, in front of the car park, they are not brand new. There is a workshop behind here in collaboration with the Lady Mechanic Initiative, am sure she currently has almost a 100 people working with her, fixing vehicles.
What we are doing about it, first we are going around to get the exact number of people that need work, secondly we have had a whole series of sessions. We are now planning that the work was going to come from Agriculture, we have an Agriculture Committee headed by Chief Ida, they have been going round the state, and as I speak to you today, they have prepared almost a thousand hectares of land. We are expecting to prepare about five thousand hectares before the main rain begins, because we have gone into contracts with some large scale companies who are going to buy grains, particularly maize from Edo State. So what we are doing is take away the key risks on Agriculture, by first getting the land, helping prepare the land and then encouraging people to go in there, giving them the seedlings, give them the farming practices, to cultivate.
So if you for instance are interested, you and your friends could get as much as five hectares and you could rent tractors, high improved seedlings will be giving to you, you cultivate, and they will teach you what to do, and six to eight weeks that lot will be ready for harvest. Given the yield, from those five hectares for instance, you can make as much as eight tons per a hectare, so you have about 20 tons at a N150, 000 per ton, imagine how much you will walk away with in six weeks, and you can replicate that for the other seasons. Corn is in huge demand and there is a quite a bit of shortage of , and you know is used for feed meals. Because of the cost of corn, Poultry has become more expensive, feeds generally for animals, pigs and fish has become expensive. So there is a lot of demand and we are getting those contracts signed up and we are trying to encourage our people to go into agriculture and there are several other such initiatives. So, as we roll out these programmes, you will find that a lot of people will have work.
On Uniformed Harmonized Tax Rate Bill
Think about it, when I was campaigning that was one key issue, We kept saying as far as Edo State is concerned we are paying salaries, but when you go out there people say no, no, we have not gotten salaries, it wasn’t that we are lying, Edo State Government, Comrade Oshiomhole has reformed the government of Edo State, so it could meet its obligations, it wasn’t defaulting on salaries, unlike the situation before he came into office, however Local Governments as you all know is a separate tier of Government, separate from the state, they get their own funding directly, the law and the constitution give them their own tax base that is what they could collect taxes on. So we noticed that once the Local Governments got their allocations from Abuja, the allocations were no longer enough to pay their obligations, pay for the school teachers, and pay the workers of the Local Governments. The other source which they could have gotten money from which is their own tax base, don’t forget Edo State Government has cleaned up its own act and reorganize the tax office that is Board of Inland Revenue and we are actually able to collect its own tax and that is how we were able to meet up our own obligations both to our workers and contractors. But this was not happening with the Local Governments and I realized that the bulk of revenue that was supposed to be going to the Local Governments has been contracted out to non-state actors.
So the first thing I have to do is to announce during my New Year broadcast, that this should stop. I banned it, but has to follow up with some necessary legislation which meant that first we have to itemize again, the various revenue subheads, where can and should the Local Government collect revenue from and that how much should they collect, because it was quite random. More importantly, we also have to put in place a process for collection. So we needed a law to back the all things which we are about to do now so as we roll out, we have a Uniformed Tax Rates, we have to itemized what you could collect money on, don’t forget all sorts of characters would go into markets and all sorts of places to essentially extorts people, collect money from them in the name of taxes or levies which were never defined, receipts were never issued, all of that has to stop and today if anyone comes to you to pay any amount as tax or levies they have to show you that there is a law backing that operation.
On the benefit of Using POS in this process
First we want to eliminate cash from the tax collection process, you know the risk, if a market woman for instance needed to pay environmental dues, and it is N500 a month, if she doesn’t have a bank card for which she can pay with through our POS, then the collector in charge should buy a scratch card and swipe it and get the pin numbers and key in with her own code and a receipt will be issued to her, that way she doesn’t have to give cash to any person and she will get a receipt and record of what she has paid.
Issues On The Transport System
Yes, we have hired somebody who has a lot of experience to reorganize Edo Transport Management Agency, as we speak and as part of what we are working on, once the Edo job portals opens tomorrow, we would be hiring or recruiting traffic officers, but this time around we are going to screen them very, very carefully and train them, of course the place has been set up now in one of the government facilities, train them so that they go through very rigorous training before we then deploy them to the streets to begin to organize and control the traffic. We also have spoken with the judiciary; part of the law says we would have mobile courts on some magistrate courts designated for prosecuting traffic offenders. From the measures we have put in place, once we roll out the processes we should be able to put halt to traffic menace in the state. That is for the short term, for the medium to long term we have people currently working trying to help us develop a master plan for transportation in the city and eventually in the state. There is no transportation master plan, so we now have people who are collecting data they are in the field, doing a lot of field work, bringing in a lot of data, you may not have noticed them, to get us data that we can have a plan on how to organize traffic, how to organize the routing, how to work with the various transportation stakeholders, the bus unions, the tricycle unions, everybody who is involved in transportation. We are going to collect information hopefully working with the World Bank who we have spoken to, get enough money to do studies then reorganize the transport system. And the next thing about transport as you know is roads, we are trying to think through what are the major arteries and how to now get traffic flow through the cities, so in the short term, we get agency, train the staff who we are currently hiring, then make sure that we remove all the bottlenecks, in the medium to long term, we are going to rethink how to move goods and people across the city and then across the state.
On The Judiciary
We are trying to ensure that very frequently I meet with the Chief Judge; sit down to review the situation, the judiciary is one arm of government we are taking very seriously, in this year’s budget as you realize, we made quite handsome provision to improve infrastructure in the judiciary, so we have to had constant interactions with them, we are rebuilding the house for the Chief Judge, we have to build more court rooms, we try to relocate the industrial court to Benin, we are helping refurbish the Court of Appeal, anything that will help strengthen the judicial system we will do.
Entertainment And Sports
Entertainment and Sports are two areas that we will spend a lot of time and efforts on; because these are two areas we are relying on to create a quiet number of jobs. Sports first, we need to rethink on Sports, as you recall, we set up several associations, what we have done in Education, Agriculture, and soon in Health care, we have to do same in sports and entertainment and what is that, we will have a strategy team in place, we will think through the issues, we look at the priorities as outlined in my electioneering campaign in my manifesto. We then look at all the issues around particular topic which is Sports, we then invite critical stakeholders, people who has done things in that area, people in the State government who are involved, people in the local government, we invite them to a session like a one day workshop, we had that in Agriculture, we brought potential investors, we brought people from the local governments, government officials, directors in the Ministry of Agric, to spend a night or two brainstorming.
Not just talking through the theories but actually what exactly to do and how to do and who to do. So we have done that in Agric, that is why I can tell you today we are doing things in Agric, we have a very clear road map. We concluded education last week, we have two elements, first Primary Education how do we get Primary Education system to now be what it should be, to be number one again in the country, so we got experts from all over, so we got experts from World Bank, from Technology companies, so they came and we brainstormed on what to do with primary education. Then we had another session on Technical and Vocational education separate, we got people from Industries, we got the schools themselves, we got foreigners to sit down and think through what to do with Technical Education and we have started work on that, if you read the papers last week, we have gone to tender, we have started work on the Benin Technical College. We are going to do the same thing for healthcare next week and then we will now focus on Youths and Sports where we will sit, talk to ourselves and asked the key questions. What exactly should we be doing and how should we do it and who will be responsible for doing what and when we can get work done by? I won’t pretend I am an entertainer, I won’t say am fantastic sports person, but I know that I have to put together sports managers, athletes, footballers in a room and by the time we talk through the issue, we will know what to do and how to go about it.
Issues on Health
Like I said, we are going to be having a session on health in a week’s time, I will invite you. The way I see healthcare, I see it from several perspectives, first you need to strengthen your health care system, there are several things you need to do, if you look at Health care holistically you will see that the problem of health care is not only within the Ministry of Health, though they coordinate, the moderate, give information but is broader. The other issue is giving the demand for health care today in Nigeria and the way we talk about health care, who will pay for health care, does government has the resources to pay for health care in the way it is always done until now, lastly the practitioners themselves if you think about it, the Doctors are perhaps the least in numbers in the healthcare system, they are supported.
You see if you don’t do anything about security nobody will bring their money here, to invest. You cannot build economy without taken care of security. So that is why security is important. Security is not something you sit down and discuss, this how we are going to secure, this is how am I going to secure, but I can assure you as we speak, we are developing our own internal Edo State Security plan in consonant with the Federal Government to make sure that this state is secured well. You see it’s quite difficult to secure because we are right in the middle of everywhere, very porous, people come in and go out, so we are going to think very cleverly how we secure our state, but I am pleased today that most of issues of security has been dealt with. We have not heard any issue of terrorism incidence here and we pray to God that it will not happen. We have issues with herdsmen that, we also have a plan to deal with it; cases of armed robbery are not as prevalent as they were in times past. So I will say on the whole in a short term, we are watching the security situations and putting in the right investment to maintain order and security. In the long term we will be fine-tuning our security plans to make sure that it is sustainable.
Yes, on a lighter note, I have gained one kilo, on a lighter note when I say God has won, Godwin, is for real, don’t think I am here just by chance, because this state is really, really blessed. If I have my doubts about our endowments, when I went to Eben, visiting Eben after two years, it is a totally different location, totally different operations.
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