By John Mayaki
If we invest in agriculture, we can do more than 200,000 jobs in Edo and Nigeria as a whole,” – Governor Godwin Obaseki
Perhaps the biggest electoral promise of Governor Godwin Obaseki whilst seeking office was to bolster the economy of Edo state and create at least, 200,000 jobs in four years for the state’s teeming youths.
To achieve this objective, his administration has identified the Agric sector and has begun to make considerable investments that would open up the sector and make it appealing to the private sector.
In furtherance of this goal, Governor Godwin Obaseki paid a visit to Edo state’s college of agriculture, Iguoriakhi earlier this week to inspect the facilities and its general condition, and one of the immediate fallouts of his visit was an announcement of the institution’s temporary closure so as to give room for the government, in partnership with private bodies, to reposition the college in order for it to achieve the goals and objectives for which it was established.
Under a PPP model, a team comprising of Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Rubber Estate of Nigeria, Leventis Farms Ltd, Okomu Oil, Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria and Presco Oil has been put in place to see to the remodeling of the institution.
This move, according to Governor Godwin Obaseki, will help the institution retrace its step, maximize its potentials, and signify his administration’s commitment to partner with the private sector in the diversification of the state’s economy and provision of jobs to the Edo people.
While signing a Memorandum of Understanding with NIFOR in his visit to the institute on Tuesday, 8th of August, the Governor reiterated his administration’s commitment to making Edo state an investment hub by creating an enabling environment for business to thrive through stable and business-friendly policies like the Anti-CDA Law, adequate security and provision of critical infrastructure like roads – as seen in the on-going Edo roads project.
Governor Godwin Obaseki’s partnership with the private sector to revamp the College of Agriculture and ultimately diversify the state’s economy to create more wealth is timely given the cash-crunch engineered by the falling price of crude in the international market – which limited government spending and compelled government actors to think outside of the box for more revenue ventures.
Other sectors like Agriculture have been fingered as the possible alternative for the country and as a result of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s calculated efforts; Edo state is already positioning itself as the go-to state for private investors with interest in Agriculture.
Direct consequence of investment in Agriculture to a state includes; added stream of revenue, eradication of poverty and increased food supply, job opportunities and crime reduction; while a meaningful partnership with private bodies, as is the case in Edo state, helps the government get long-term value for its investment through appropriate risk transfer to the private sector over the life of the project; right from design and construction to operations and maintenance
Meanwhile, in another move to encourage Foreign Direct Investment in Edo state and Nigeria at large, Governor Godwin Obaseki plans to travel to Indonesia to attend a Trade Expo with the theme “Global partner for sustainable resources” organised by the Indonesia Trade Promotion Council (ITPC).
As is apparent, Governor Obaseki, through his compelling argument and visionary leadership, has entered into a mutually beneficial relationship with the private sector which would, in the final analysis, bring development to Edo state and its peoples.
Mayaki is Chief Press Secretary to Edo State Governor.