The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has charged the newly inaugurated local government chairmen, vice chairman and secretaries, to ensure inclusivity, accountability and transparency in the discharge of their duties.
The governor gave the charge during a two-day onboarding programme for new local government council chairmen, in Benin City.
The governor, who declared open the programme at the John Odigie Oyegun Public Service Academy (JOOPSA) in Benin City, the Edo State capital, charged the council officials to prioritize developmental projects to positively impact and improve the lives of the people at the grassroots.
The governor said, “We are here to onboard our newly elected local government chairmen, vice-chairmen and secretaries to ensure they key into our policies and programme to deliver good governance to our people.
“We believe in the autonomy of local government because the constitution provides that local government should be autonomous. We should also insist on accountability and transparency to our people. You are autonomous but accountable because the resources at your disposal to undertake developmental works in your various local government areas belong to Edo people and should be accounted for.
“Our focus is to ensure that the resources we receive in Edo, either from federal allocation, taxes raised from our people or money borrowed are judiciously and properly utilized and accounted for. It’s a pitiable situation we experience in Nigeria where individuals elected or appointed suddenly begin to feel that the institution belongs to them and that they can do what they like as they are there to serve their families, themselves, friends and not the people. They sometimes feel they should not be accountable and anytime accountability is demanded or required of them, they see it as witch-hunting.”
He continued: “In Edo, over the last seven years, we have made sure we run a government where the people feel they are included and heard and the government in place is there to serve them and it is expected that the same trickles down to the local government areas. Our government, whether State or local government, should be seen as inclusive, accommodating all shades of opinions. Whether you voted for us or not, all should be included in the decisions that we make.
“We have not focused on individuals but on policies that will touch the lives of the people as this has made them feel included in our government. The social well-being of our people is critical to us as they expect the government to do some things for them and we are focusing on the people rather than individuals. We have the responsibility as a government to take fundamental policies that will help in organizing society and development.”
The governor further noted that his government has undertaken holistic reforms across various sectors of the State, including education, health, and economy, among others, placing the State on the path of sustainable and accelerated growth.
Obaseki said, “Basic education is free and qualitative in Edo and we have put it at its very best. Developing that aspect is necessary as basic education is the responsibility of the local government.
“Basic education collapsed in Edo State as we saw it, but my administration is doing its best, working so hard, and putting in a lot of resources to ensure it thrives. We have not been able to refurbish all of our basic schools and one administration alone can’t. That is why we hope for a good succession to enable the development to continue.”
“The healthcare system at the foundation also collapsed before we came into office but we are doing our best to revive it. We also focused on institutional reforms as you will come and go as local government chairmen but institutions built will remain. You must ensure that your Institution is strong enough to live after you may have left office.”
The governor charged, “The era of subsidy is over and we are moving to the era where Nigeria will only survive based on what it produces. The future will be determined by how we organize our local government and State to support economic activities as it is based on taxes received from economic activities that we can run local government and State. A day will come when what we raise and get from Abuja will not be enough and sufficient to run the local government. We need to lay the foundation for that day to enable us to survive without oil.”
On his part, Secretary to the Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq., while speaking to the participants, charged on quality service delivery to Edo people at the grassroots, adding, “Government is all about the people and whatever we do, the people must be considered. As Chairmen, the welfare and security of your people should be your concern and priority. The chairmen should live within the local government areas and provide services for the people as you got to that office following their mandates.”