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Speech By Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Governor, Edo State Delivered At The Celebration Of The 2017 May Day, At Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Mai 1st 2017

By Olabode Emmanuel
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Let me start by thanking the leadership and congresses of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliates in Edo State for putting together this colourful and landmark celebration of this year's May Day. Though traditionally, the relationship between government and labour has been characterised by distrust and suspicion, over the decades, both parties have worked together to overcome impediments to cooperation and mutual respect in the struggle to promote growth, development and social justice.

I may have a private sector background but allow me to assure the good workers of Edo State that I fully appreciate the strategic place of workers in the wealth creation process. Therefore, I stand with you and will continue to work with the NLC and the TUC and their affiliates to improve working conditions and reward systems for our workers. I want to appreciate the cordial working relationship with which you welcomed this administration. I have no doubt that working together and putting the interest of our state first, we can rapidly reposition our state for peace and progress. Labour can be assured that this Government will not take its support for granted. I am available for regular dialogue on critical issues and willing to partner with you to make our workers happy and comfortable.

I have said it severally and I would say it again that our most valued asset as a government is our workers. As a Government, we know that our shareholders and bosses are the Edo people. We know also that they expect diligent services that would attract maximum benefits to them and the State. The expectation of our people would be better met if our most valued asset; the civil and public services are performing effectively, efficiently and collaboratively. As you know, only an efficient, effective, technology-driven, citizen-centered and result-oriented public and civil service can take our state to the next level.

We are therefore investing heavily into the enhancement of the workplace by renovating the Palm House and Secretariat. We are currently fine-tuning plans for a new administrative building in the Government House. We would also invest in training and retraining to better prepare all categories of our workforce for enhanced efficiency and higher productivity. We shall therefore deploy cutting edge technology as a tool to enhance service delivery and bring our work place culture at par with best practices.

In the area of welfare for our workers, we recently concluded several targeted workshops covering virtually all MDAs involving experts from all over the nation. The purpose was to obtain a holistic understanding of the state of affairs in our MDAs and receive short and long term solutions to our challenges. I want to assure you that we have the political will to implement the recommendations from the workshops. I invite Edo workers to join hands with the government in this journey of structural transformation.

We are also in talks with several serious investors in the areas of agribusiness, housing, hospitality and infrastructure that are designed to create jobs, improve real incomes and expand our revenue base. The ease the business environment and build investor confidence, we shall be establishing an Edo State Investment Promotion Bureau as a one-stop shop in this regard. These investments will create jobs for our people and improve the quality of life. We are reconstructing our security architecture and putting modalities in place for an effective Community Security arrangement that will cover the entire state. Similarly, following from our Workshop on the Health Sector, Edo State will be introducing a statewide health insurance scheme even as we conclude plans to reposition our health training institutions and train more community health workers.

The Pension Bureau has been inaugurated to resolve all issues bothering on pension in the State. We have also commenced the contributory pension scheme and these steps should resolve outstanding pension issues and usher in a new dawn in pension administration.

We promised to create 200,000 jobs within four years; as a first step to achieving this target, we have completed the registration of unemployed persons through the Edo Jobs Initiative. A total of 150,000 persons were captured during the exercise. Our Agripreneur project has been flagged off focusing on major crops with identified out growers and off takers. The Gelegele Seaport project is on stream and an Interim Report has been submitted to Government by the Technical Committee. We have signed a power purchase agreement with Ossiomo Petrochemicals to power our street lights and MDAs while an MOU has been signed with SIEMENS to build 1000 megawatts of power in the State. These initiatives have stimulated renewed interest of investors that are prepared to set up world class production and power facilities in Edo State. All these and more are geared towards meeting our campaign promise of 200,000 jobs in four years.

More than 45 roads within Benin Metropolis have been rehabilitated. We have flagged off road projects in Edo Central and Edo North Senatorial Districts. We have concluded discussions with AG Dangote on the use of concrete to construct roads. Nevis Street which is our pilot case in this regard is clearly a huge success.

Government is not unaware of the traffic situation in Benin metropolis as well as the continuing challenges posed by street trading. I assure you that a comprehensive solution will be rolled out in a few weeks with a permanent solution to these problems.

Comrades, let me not bore you with more details. It is in the character of this Government to say less and do more, to under-promise and over-achieve. All I need to say at this point is that with your support, collaboration and prayers we can go further together and make Edo a better place for all.

The history of Labour movement in Nigeria is not complete without the mention of Edo State and its huge contributions. We have produced several icons of the struggle, from Pa. Michael Imoudu and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to Festus Iyayi, Peter Esele and Peter Akpatason as well as many others; have shown the indomitability of the Edo spirit.

Let me therefore; ask that the Labour movement should draw inspirations from the patriotism, sacrifices and contributions of it past leaders and heroes to chart a new paradigm for the movement. In particular, Labour and Government must in hands urgently to assist the local governments to restructure so they would be better positioned to address their perennial problems of unpaid salaries and pensions, low revenue generation and poor service delivery.

Salaries are important and must be paid as at when due. But beyond salaries, Labour must begin to partner Government on the issue of work place efficiency and service delivery. The fight against corruption, absenteeism, waste and insolence should not be for Government alone. We must collaborate and organize for development and progress.

Our administration has zero tolerance for corruption and inefficiency. I therefore expect a partnership that would eradicate such bad practices where they exist in the public and civil services. In this way, we can build and sustain a culture of accountability, transparency and productivity.

Comrades, I congratulate you for a well-organized Labour Day celebration, let us all go back to work refreshed and re-fired for the task ahead. Let us all go back to our desks and workstations, determined to contribute our very best today and committed to improving on our best. I am convinced that marching together in this glorious journey to move Edo forward, God will continue to bless us all.