As I travel through your community, I will be interested in asking one question and one question only:
What do you want?
For the last eight years in this State, the government has never asked the people any question. They believe they know what you want.
We must give the government back to the people in fulfillment of the dream by Abraham Lincoln when he declared at Gettysburg in the heat of the American Civil war, as brother killed brother—-
-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
As far away as we may be from the United States of America;
As far back as 1863 when Abraham Lincoln spoke those words;
he was speaking to a day such as this—
when a little boy born in Benin City;
who went to Primary School in Benin City;
who went to Secondary school in Benin City;
who went to University in Benin City;
who worked in Benin City—–would grow up to aspire to lead his people with hope, with courage, with vision and with a plan.
S—–stands for Social Welfare and Security
We cannot expect to build a safe and secure State when we have not taken steps to create jobs for our young men and women. In the past eight years, all the Industries that used to provide jobs for our young men and women have been shut down by an insensitive government. Where is Edo Line? Where is Bendel Breweries? Where is Bendel Insurance? Where is Urhonigbe Rubber Factory? Where is Uromi Fertilizer Plant? Where is Ehor Fruit Juice Factory?
I believe and strongly so —-that Government must first take care of its responsibility toward the people before it can have the moral right to ask the people to take care of their responsibility toward the government.
To this end, I hereby declare that we will review the excessive multiple taxation burden in this State and in consultation with the people, evolve a simple tax structure.
I am prepared from day one to work assiduously toward increasing your opportunities to be skilled, to be equipped and to be empowered with a small business loan in your community to give you the power, ready to prosper doing an honest day’s work.
There is hunger in the land.
There is chronic unemployment in the land.
There is poverty in the land.
When there is poverty in the land, our women bear the brunt. We must reverse this situation. All 192 wards in the State will have a Social Welfare Officer whose job it will be, to be the first point of contact on issues of Maternal mortality, Infant mortality and balanced Child nutrition up till age 5. They will visit you in your homes to ask you how the government can help you.
I——stands for infrastructure
First, we must resolve to build the infrastructure of the mind and soul where brother cares for brother and sister cares for sister and we all care for our senior citizens. We cannot allow our senior citizens retire into penury.
On education infrastructure, first, we must train our teachers to be the best that they can be and then we must change the way we reward them so that they can change the way they teach. We must equip every school with a computer laboratory to enable our children function and compete with their counterparts across the world. Every Edo Student in tertiary institutions will be entitled to Bursary award.
On road construction, we plan to evolve a system that makes our six dry months work for us like 12 months by introducing double shifts in road construction contracts.
On health infrastructure, we plan to build a healthcare system that is second to none in Nigeria.
A statistic of 17% maternal and infant mortality is unacceptable and must be reversed. We will build well equipped Primary Health Care centers in every local government across the State to bring healthcare to the doorsteps of our beautiful mothers, wives and daughters. It is estimated that two out of every 25 women will die of breast cancer disease every year in Edo State. Awareness is the key and catching it early makes it possible to get a cure. We must build cancer screening centers in every market across the State for early detection. We must protect our women.
M—-stands for manpower development and Training
We will equip the Edo youth to be the most productive youth in Nigeria. A society that trains its youth is a society that plans to succeed. Changes will be made to our educational curriculum such that every child would pick four different skills to learn from JSS1-JSS3. They would then be required to specialize in one skill from SS1 to SS3. When that child is ready to graduate from secondary school, they will have a WAEC certificate in one hand and a Trade Diploma in the other hand.
For adult men and women who are unemployed and poor, we would provide them a way out of poverty. Every Local government will operate a skills Acquisition program on one hand and a Food program to go along with it. It is cheaper to train people and guide them out of poverty than to buy guns and build prisons. When people see a pathway out of poverty, they are not likely to resort to crime.
P—–Public Private Partnerships (PPP)
To the business community, I say, you do not have a better friend. I plan to engage the private sector in the revitalization of all neglected industries in Edo State and in the establishment of new ones. We intend to build Industrial Clusters in each of the three Senatorial zones with ready to go Certificate of Occupancy and a Five year tax holiday. Let the word go forth therefore to the four winds of Nigeria, North, South, East and West and beyond the shores of our great country—-that Edo State is open and ready for business.
L—–Leadership by example
We plan to lead from the front. We will first do before we ask you to do.
E—-Employment Creation and Empowerment Scheme
There is no better, faster way to create employment than through agriculture. We plan to build Agricultural Settlements in all three Senatorial zones and bring back Commodity Marketing Boards to buy produce from farmers. We plan to put 500,000 hectares under cultivation in the first four years which will be allocated to 100,000 young farmers who will employ up to 10 people per hectare to address the scourge of unemployment, hunger and poverty in the land.
In addition, we would establish Microfinance companies in every local government to help empower small and medium scale business people.
Edo North for example is one of the richest Senatorial districts in terms of mineral deposits in the country with 18 known deposits including Gold, Marble, Limestone, Phosphate, etc
Edo State ought to be a land of plenty. You have the power to change the rules of the game on September 10th 2016. You have the power to change the change.
We have a daily cycle in which we struggle to make a living but we have a four year cycle to change our leaders if we do not like the direction in which they are leading us.
This is our chance. You must seize the moment. God bless you. God bless Edo State and may God bless Nigeria.