by Peace Oluwadara, AJALA

‘My people-oriented policies will earn me second term — Gov Obaseki’[1]

Policy Issues: Governance (National and Sub-National), Economic Growth and Human Development.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has reportedly said that the reforms and people-oriented policies he has implemented in the state that have allegedly changed the fortunes of the people will earn him a second term in office. Celebrating his third year in office, he said “In spite of the very difficult and uncertain political environment in which we have operated in the last one year, we are grateful to God that we are able to achieve all these successes.” Speaking on the youth empowerment programs, he said he was particularly happy that his administration has helped to engender hope in the youths by showing them pathways to building successful lives. Addressing partners, investors and funders of the fundamental reforms, he assured that there is no need for anxieties as regards the polls next year. The governor further explained that his team has been guided and governed by certain key values such as accountability, transparency, and probity in the conduct of state matters.

“We are pursuing an aggressive industrialization drive. Our goal is to utilize our endowments, particularly the available energy and logistical advantage so that we can become a major industrial hub…”[2]

  • Governor Godwin Obaseki

One marked difference between the above statement made by the current governor of Edo State, and statements of intention made by other actors and leaders in governance, is the presence of political will. Of the eight indicators of good governance set out by Kaufman and Kray, three stand out as relates to the instant discourse – responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency. In a country where these indicators are far from prevalent, it becomes almost easy to see the few conscientious leaders who seem driven by nothing else (maybe re-election) but the desire to serve.

Governor Obaseki’s governance and institutional reform projects began on the premise of the Edo State Reform Document titled “The Road to Prosperity, 2017-2020” which was drafted upon his resumption to the office. This document presented administration’s vision “to develop a modern and progressive Edo state where every citizen is empowered with the opportunity to live life in its fullness” and its mission as “to achieve economic prosperity for Edo State.”[3] Predicating the accelerated progress and growth recorded in key sectors of Edo State, on Governor Obaseki’s sound educational background and professional practice, may be inaccurate as Nigeria has seen well-trained professionals whose experiences failed to translate into growth for their respective constituencies. One likely hinge of Obaseki’s success may however have been a team of like-minded people to help drive and accomplish his vision.

Despite the number of development plans and innovative development paradigms that Nigeria has had as a country, none of these have fully translated into remarkable economic growth and better standard of living for the people. Of the things this governor may have done correctly, setting up a team of multidisciplinary experts who generated baseline scenario analyses that served as envisioning platforms and the bases for strategic planning, may be one. He was said to have done this via a cross-section of stakeholders, to engage, review and validate at the 1st Edo Summit in 2017[4]. While technocratic competences have their place in the ultimate development of the state, the potency of the political will possessed by this administration, can in no way be undermined. The governor’s willingness to put government intention into implementation was reflected through the design of a viable and realistic policy blueprint and the exploration of a deep level of stakeholders’ engagement.

Asides the launch of an exhaustive integrated security system, networked to a local neighbourhood watch system and joint security agencies system alignment, the Obaseki-administration begin a civil service reform architecture with such alacrity[5]. The governor instituted a meritocratic and competence-based HRM system in the public service. This has become the base competitive structure being applied, not only to the appointment of permanent secretaries in the state, but it serves also as the structural model for promotion, moderated by ASCON and backed with highly intensive training and retraining programmes.

The current administration has also paid particular attention to Human capital development by birthing the EdoBest initiative (Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation) which is being implemented in partnership with the World Bank.[6] Despite the degree of progress recorded thus far, the current administration may need to be rid of its propensity to settle as a result of the strides taken. Regardless of all that has been achieved, should a change in government occur, there exists no guarantee of continuity. Rather the new administration may birth its own plans which it may or may not implement, instead of building on existing programs and projects. There is therefore need for the Obaseki-administration to fully maximize the final year in its tenure, by systematic institutionalization of its reform processes. Until these processes and programs are institutionalized and entrenched into the system, there exists no assurance of continuity and sustenance of the reform achievements.

Finally, as no reform is ever successful outside an exhaustive monitoring and evaluation procedure, this final lap may be used to deepen the reform using feedbacks from evaluation reports. The administration may need to take heed to the need for citizens’ participation and engagement in maintaining a feedback cycle which is pivotal to the sustainability of current legacies and governance gains. Remarkable as it is, to significantly increase the IGR, accountability is shown by transparent reports of disbursement to projects and reports of the impact of those projects. Performance review stakeholder meetings can also be held periodically to review service delivery standards, benchmarks, and performance.

Beyond the temptation to rejoice down to next year’s elections, attention should be focused on securing continuity by mechanisms that ground the reforms and makes them a part of the system. Whether or not the Obaseki-administration is re-elected into office, its posture should be one striving for the best in the shortest possible time and not basking in the accolades that abound. A legacy is only a legacy when it outlives the legator.

 

 

[1] This article was taken from The Punch Newspaper. Available at: https://punchng.com/my-people-oriented-policies-will-earn-me-second-term-gov-obaseki/. Date Accessed: 14/11/2019.

[2] Vanguard News AllAfrica; Nigeria: When Reforms, Projects Speak Volumes of ‘Wake and See Governor’. Available at: https://allafrica.com/stories/201805300159.html. Date Accessed: 14/11/2019.

[3] Ibid.

[4] ThisDay Newspapers; Alaghodaro 2019: Building Sustainable Future for Edo. Available at: https://www.pressreader.com/nigeria/thisday/20191107/page/30/textview. Date Accessed: 14/11/2019.

[5] Pulse Ng; You have proven essence of your establishment, Obaseki tells NSCDC. Available at: https://www.pulse.ng/news/local/you-have-proven-essence-of-your-establishment-obaseki-tells-nscdc/9557cex. Date Accessed: 14/11/2019

[6] The World Bank; Implementation Completion and Results Report. Available at: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/562801525454684618/pdf/ICR-Main-Document-05012018.pdf. Date Accessed: 14/11/2019.