Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has assured that his administration will continue to provide opportunities for young people in the state to thrive and advance policies and programmes to place the state on a sustainable path for economic prosperity.
Obaseki gave the assurance on Wednesday during the Edo Youth Summit, with the theme, “Our Youth and the MEGA Agenda’, held at the New Festival Hall in Government House, Benin City.
Other dignitaries present at the event are the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu; Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA), Rt. Hon. Marcus Onobun; Chief of Staff, Ethan Uzamere; and the Commissioner for Youths, Hon. Damian Lawani, among others.
The summit, which had 300 youths physically in attendance and over 2,500 others joining via virtual platforms from the 18 Local Government Areas (LGA) in Edo State, is part of events lined up for this year’s Alaghodaro Investment Summit.
The event also featured a special question and answer session tagged ‘Fire side chat with His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki’, which afforded young entrepreneurs the opportunity to rub minds with the governor on challenges and prospects in their state’s economy, identifying workable strategies to grow businesses and drive productivity.
According to the governor, “Government is set up to help the people; government does not exist for itself and because about 67 percent of the people who live in Edo state are under the age of 35, the youth must be the priority of our government, because they are in the majority.
“Our focus in the next four years is on the young people of Edo State. We are not going to do this by giving you handouts or expanding the government to make everybody an appointee.
“We are going to do it by making sure that the government is efficient and accountable to you and that the taxes we raise from you is judiciously spent to provide the conducive environment to do business.
“The reason why you (young people) came out enmasse to vote for us is because you want us to create a better life for you and the only way we can do that is for us all to have a working relationship, as we don’t have all the solutions; the solutions will come from you.
“All we can do is to open up the government so that you can be heard; so that you can reach us; the fastest and best way to do this is to emphasise technology. If Edo is going to be great again, then it is the young people that must make it happen,” he added.
Governor Obaseki also reassured farmers that his administration will work to reduce the risk in agriculture to attract genuine farmers to the sector to boost food production.
He further disclosed plans to run an e-government before the end of his 8-year term, adding: “Before my last year in office, Edo State Government will not have physical files again in office but will run an e-government.”
On entrepreneurship, the governor said his administration is creating the enabling environment for entrepreneurs to succeed.
“We should brand our locally-made goods properly, make our products attractive and of quality standard, so that the local economy can grow,” Obaseki advised.
The governor also assured that his administration is going to build a total of 250 primary healthcare centres across the 18 LGAs of the state.
He noted: “The new design is that, with the revamp of 20 pilot primary healthcare centres for each local government, we are moving the intervention to about 60 PHCs. Our hope is to get to about 250 PHCs.
“Our hope is to have a minimum of one primary health care center in each ward, which must be of good standard and equipped with solar power for 24 hours electricity.
Obaseki also flagged-off a number of capacity building and job creation programmes, which include the Edo State Skills Development Agency, (EdoJobs) Internship and Apprenticeship Scheme (Stream 4) supported by GIZ for about 450 youths; leatherworks program for returnees and youth living with disabilities.
The governor also launched a book, titled, “How We Did It: Transforming the youth through skills, entrepreneurship and innovation,” which chronicles the government’s job creation efforts from 2016 – 2020.
On his part, the Deputy Governor, Shaibu, noted: “As youths, you need to discover your God-given potentials and pray to actualize it and utilize the enabling environment created by Edo State Government to succeed. You must be innovative and come up with solutions to societal problems.”
The youth summit featured a panel session with the Anambra State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partners, Mark Okoye and Head of Tracka NG, Uadamen Ilevbaoje as panelists who examined youth political participation and the role of Edo youths in actualising the ‘Making Edo Great Again’ Agenda
Other panelists are Chief Operating Officer at Starzs Investments Company Ltd, Iroghama Ogbeifun; Co-Founder, Elect-Her, Mrs. Abosede George-Ogan and the Founder, Genius hub Global Initiative, Mrs. Isimeme Whyte.