The last three years of the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki has been that of mixed feelings as he has garnered as much admirers as critics who have presented their views with equal passion and enthusiasm.
The government came in with high hopes of "continuity" which was the slogan popularised by his predecessor and now National Chairman of the All Progressives Country, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
While his supporters say he has continued from where Oshiomhole stopped and done more, his critics say he stagnated or completely abandoned some laudable projects initiated by Oshiomhole.
His critics believe that landmark projects like the multi-billion naira water storm project, the water fountain which is the only park in the whole of Edo State has been shut to the public, the reconstruction of dilapidated public schools popularly called the red roof revolution, continuation of massive roads construction to open up rural communities and densely populated areas in the metropolitan areas of the state among others have not progressed.
Crisis of trust
Beclouding his three years administration is the crisis that has dogged the party ahead of the 2020 election when he would be finishing his first term and seeking a second term. There is opposition to his return and there have been crises of trust between him and Oshiomhole on one hand and the controversial inauguration of the House of Assembly where 10 of the 24 members sit for state legislative matters till date.
On infrastructure, the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium stands out, it is being renovated and fitted with more sporting facilities, including a canopy cover. The stadium is being expanded and equipped with state-of-the-art facility to spur sports development and develop local talents in the state especially as the state hosts the National Sports Festival in 2020.
Obaseki said rehabilitation work at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin is near completion and the stadium would be ready to host various local and international sporting competitions.
"We take sports seriously in this state, because 72 per cent of our population are under 30 years of age, and that is why we are building 20 mini-stadia across the state. Therefore, four of these mini-stadia can be used as practice fields for the Under-20 Women's World Cup."
His road construction projects span across different parts of the state and are being spearheaded by the Ministry of Infrastructure, State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) and SEEFOR Plus, and the state government-funded scheme modelled' after the World Bank funded project.
Some roads that have been completed or receiving attention include St. Saviour Road, Ugbor-Amagba Road, Lucky Way, Ehaekpen-TV Road, Ikiran-Oke-Ikakhumoh Road, Benin-Abraka Road, Agbede-Awain Road, Uzebba-Okpuje-Akagbor Road, Irhirhi-Aruogba-Obazagbon-Obagienevbosa, among others.
There is the renovation of public schools across the state, expected to complement investment in human capital development.
Schools, including conventional and technical institutions of learning, are being remodelled to reflect the governor's commitment to build infrastructure in the quest to revive the state's industrial sector.
The Government Science and Technical College (GSTC) in Benin City which is being remodelled to be become a center of excellence in technical education is of particular interest. With its new state-of-the-art twin blocks, the school has resumed for a new academic session, while the state government has recruited new science and technology teachers to ensure that the school is top-rate. Work on the old buildings are already under way. The project is being supported by the Canadian government.
Obaseki said the GSTC will host a production hub to spur Industrialisation in the axis, noting that the hub will serve as a location for design and production of machines so as to create opportunities for students to work with those in the industry and translate what they learn to the real world.
"We have now finished building two new blocks with workshops that will accommodate about 800 students. We now need to move to the old blocks and begin to make them more modern. We are also rebuilding the electrical, mechanical and carpentry workshops. We are introducing plumbing and other trades," he said.
He added that the state government is in talks with foreign partners for exchange programmes which will make provision for experts to train teachers on technical subjects. "We need more teachers that can teach technical subjects and we need to train them. We are considering different options as we are talking to foreign partners to provide technical support and assistance on how to bring people who have done this before to accelerate the training of our teachers," the governor said.
For tertiary education, the state government has placed premium on revamping the institutions to become more forward-looking. The affected institutions include the College of Education, Abudu; Edo State Polytechnic, Usen and Ambrose Alli University.
The College of Education, Abudu campus used to be the defunct Provincial Teachers Training College that later transformed to the orientation camp for National Youth Service Corps scheme.
The governor said the state would now have one College of Education and three schools instead of having three different colleges "Each school is specialising on specific aspect of teacher-education. The one in Abudu will have a digital training centre to train primary school teachers, the school in Igueben will focus on Secondary school and science teachers while the one in Auchi will specialise in training teachers in Technical Education, Physical Education and Special Education."
As part of the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) programme, the state government is renovating schools across the state, to ensure that they are conducive for learning.
The government said over 230 schools are being remodelled as part of the state government's commitment to provide conducive learning environment for pupils in the state, which is a major pillar of the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EDOBEST) programme.
The state government has also provided a space and built a structure to now house the Benin office of the National Industrial Court. Before now, litigants on industrial disputes travel to Ondo state. Besides, the entire High Court premises is undergoing massive reconstruction to provide a more conducive environment for judiciary practitioners just as the judges quarters is ongoing.
The Obaseki administration has also embarked on the completion of the state secretariat complex which was started by late Dr Samuel Ogbemudia as military governor of old Midwest state over 40 years ago, he is also rebuilding the Staff Training School recently renamed after the first civilian governor of the state and former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Just few days ago,Obaseki inaugurated the Benin City River Port Project Technical committee, to propel the actualisation of the legacy project as part of the state's industrialisation drive.
The governor said the technical committee would also monitor the implementation of the project.
He said: "To further strengthen the work done by the initial technical committee and further boost the economic potential of the state, the inauguration of the Benin City River Port Technical Committee cannot be over-emphasised in the development of an ultra-modern port facility to meet international standards."
Obaseki tasked members of the committee to fast-track its evaluation process so the financing for the project could be readily accessed, adding, "Because of the progress we have made in sourcing the financing for the project, the committee will review the feasibility study, design and operationalise aspects of the port project.
"The work of this committee is to look at what has been done to date, ensure that the port aligns with the original objectives and fast-track other works that need to be done."
The governor said the terms of reference for the committee will include organising a procurement process for the engagement of a project transaction adviser within the next 60 days, noting: "You will work with the Project Transaction Adviser to determine potential project sponsors and project structure and maritime model; examine the project financing arrangement, introduce and commence correspondence with the relevant regulatory authority."
Chairman of the Technical Committee, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, thanked the governor for the opportunity to serve the state.
He assured the governor that the committee will work with the terms of reference given, adding, "We will bring to bear our experiences and skills and live up to the confidence reposed on us."