By NBF News

Recently, Edo State government held a three-day retreat for top government functionaries. With a theme, 'Planning for our future,' the initiative was similar to Camp Davis feat in the United States.

For three days, the level of interaction and engagement was cordial, turning into a sort of classroom for the who is who's in Edo State, including Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.

The retreat featured theoretical and practical experiences of governance, from both the political class and civil servants. Besides, the choice of venue was meant to reduce cost as well as ensure that there was no distraction. The idea was to involve all the key players from bottom-up so that the process of implementation becomes easy for people to identify with and work towards achieving it. The retreat was also to formulate a strategic planning for a period of 10 years and which is broken down into three phases; 2010-2012; 2013-2016; and 2017-2020.

According to Hon. Frank Nweke (Jr.), one of the resource persons, 'it is a very delightful programm for me. What I have seen is a governor and an administration that are eager to ensure that all members of the team understand the vision. Part of my delight was in the enthusiasm that members of the team have shown over the past three days and the very robust and highly informed engagements and discussions.

'It justifies my position that in the public service, there are people who are well educated and who, in very sense of the word, are committed to developing Edo State. They are also interested in development because of the right leadership in the state. As someone in government before, I want to say that the starting point is to ensure you have a very clear vision. So far, the governor has articulated those visions clearly. He has made effort to ensure that that vision is captured in a clear plan, showing what the objectives are, what the milestones are and also the end points.'

He emphasized that the next thing is to ensure that the plans and implementation are routinely monitored for compliance.

Commenting on the strategic plan for 2010 to 2020 and change in government, Nweke said: 'As the administration changes, you communicate to those coming in because communication is the key. The only thing that is permanent is change and I expect that people who take over responsibility from any one should see where the other have been and continue from where they stopped. Policy inconsistency, policy sommersault has been the bane of our country.'

Governor Oshiomhole, on his part, observed that nothing really happens by chance, both in developing countries and advanced countries. According to him, 'there can be no miracle in the life of a nation other than that what one puts in will shape what one gets out of the system and this can only be done through proper planning, development of human capital, building of infrastructure and creating an enabling environment for sustained growth.'

The governor added: 'If a government is not accountable, it cannot be said to be democratic. I think we made a level of progress in trying to open up the system and communicate with the people. We organised series of Town Hall meetings to explain our account of stewardship.

'I also want to say that we have been fair in our dealings across political divides, because we realised that politics brought us here, but that politics has purpose and direction. Every part of the state has a right to experience positive change on the quality of life in the community. At a point, we decided not to proceed to construct roads or award road contracts without design and to do that requires time and planning. Besides, addressing the flooding problem in Benin City requires a wholistic approach instead of piece meal approach and this also requires time to work out and as we speak, we have delivered on that.'

He said that his government recorded tremendous progress in the area of infrastructural development, while giving a breakdown of his activities to buttress his claims. He said that there are some other issues that cannot be measured, like eradication of examination malpractices, even as efforts to making sure that there are good schools and that pupils have the enabling environment to learn.

On his part, the Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Pally Iriase, said the retreat is a follow up to the agenda setting retreat held in Lagos early last year, adding that the current retreat is to review how far they had gone in their plans and to re-strategise in order to give the best of governance to the people of Edo State.

Commissioner for Environment and Public Utilities, Prince Clem Agba, said the retreat became neccessary because of the need to articulate a plan for the state.

On the involvement of civil servants, Agba said: 'We are talking about team spirit. If the executive put together a document, it is the civil servants that will implement it.'