Gov Obaseki Seeks Citizens’ Collaboration, Contributions to Developing Holistic Master Plans for Edo

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…says poor planning, cause of Nigeria’s socio-economic problems

From Violet Obamwonyi & Godspower Eguasa
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has said that inadequate planning is the root cause of Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges, stressing that the development of a state does not occur miraculously but through thorough planning. This according to the Governor, underscores the importance of developing and implementing the Edo State Regional Development Plan and the Benin City Masterplan.
Obaseki made this remark during a two-day stakeholders’ engagement, held on the 19th and 20th of March 2024, in Edo North and Central senatorial districts, geared towards seeking citizens’ inputs and collaboration in developing, finalizing and implementing the regional and master plans.
Addressing stakeholders in Edo North Senatorial district at the meetings which held in Auchi and Afuze, Obaseki described poor planning as the bane of the Nigerian society, noting that the challenges faced today in the nation stem from the neglect of proper planning.
Obaseki said: “As they say, those who fail to plan are bound to fail. The Masterplan is one legacy I would like to leave behind. There is a need to plan on how things are supposed to be for the next 30 years. Some people would suggest that we tend to the needs of today instead of planning ahead into the future, but Nigeria is not in order today because we failed to plan years back.”
Stressing on the significance of the stakeholders’ engagement, the Governor emphasized that without the people’s inputs, any operational plan is destined to fail, harping on the need to involve the local communities in the planning processes, as administrations may come and go, but a solid plan will endure, as long as the people understand what needs to be done.
According to the Governor, “This stakeholders’ engagement is to sensitize you and get your own feedback and thoughts on what the plan should be. We really want to ensure that you are aware that there is a plan. We want to ask, what is your own idea? What should the masterplan entail? In 30 years time, what development do you want to see in this place? How should our transport system be? Where should our schools, hospitals, roads, markets be built? Every area must have plans. The development we see in other countries is as a result of the plan they adopted.
“Traditional rulers are well aware that from time immemorial, we plan, even for the traditional community. We have our customs and traditions that we adhere to overtime; mode of operations even at the traditional level.
“Offshoot of the lack of plan is that communities sell land without keeping a record of the land ownership status, usage and exchange. We want every community to be able to hold firmly the plan and agreement reached with the government regarding exchange of land and usage.
“We should be able to distinguish between residential and commercial areas. We should all know what is expected to be in any area of the state. Plans like these are what attract investments, as no one would want to invest in a place that is not structured. It will also ensure security. We cannot rely on the federal government to come plan our state for us, we need to do it ourselves.”
Speaking on the sustainability and longevity of the development and master plans, Obaseki said: “A plan of 30 years will outlive many administrations. The implementation is going to be done by you. And before we go, we will ensure that the plan is passed into law, so that anyone who does not observe it will be running foul of the law of Edo state.
“The Masterplan does not have any political party. This is about our future and the future of our children’s children; let us plan. We are not giving you a plan; we are planning it together, because the only people that can tell us what to do are the people who live here.”
While addressing stakeholders in Edo Central senatorial district at the event which held in Igueben, Obaseki urged for better collaborations among citizens and residents of the state, particularly residents from the Edo Central senatorial district, on their inputs in the development of a holistic 30-year masterplan that will serve as a road map in driving the state towards the path of consistent and sustainable development.
Obaseki said: “I hope you see the way Nigeria is today, it was not by accident; it was a result of our actions that made it the way it is. Now we have a choice. Should we continue to complain and lament? Is anyone hearing us? No. So, we are on our own. And the only way we can come out of this problem is by our actions. The problem did not start today, it took up to 40 years, and everyone was just concerned about solving their challenges, but now, nobody can solve just their own.
“We have to plan for every section, every area, so that everything can become well-organized and work for the benefit of everyone. Planning must start from the community. That is why we have councilors, community heads; the planning must start with them. We must analyze the level of resources at our disposal and how we can utilize them, identify the challenges, and the financial resources to surmount them.
“This plan is not a plan we have concluded in Benin and now come here to present to you, No. We want every one of us to come together, the councilors, and community heads, and plan, using the knowledge shared by all the commissioners who have spoken here today, on areas of Agriculture, Security and Safety, and Environment”.
Also speaking during the stakeholders’ engagement was the Edo State Commissioner for Physical Planning, Housing, Urban, and Regional Development, Ms. Isoken Omo, who highlighted the necessity of establishing a 30-year masterplan, which will undergo evaluation every 5 years, in order to address the challenges posed by the expanding population, and also to aid the effective management of the physical environment.
Omo emphasized that any land slated for development must first have a layout plan in place, stressing that even with changes in administrations, the plan will provide a roadmap for addressing various infrastructural needs.
She said: “Many persons think this is going to be very hard, but I want to let you know that physical planning is not really difficult. If we can plan how we spend our money, we should be able to plan for ourselves, our environment, and have a clear-cut direction as to where we are and where we are going.
“We are about 4.5 million people living in Edo State, occupying about 17,802 square kilometers. Our land does not increase but our population which is dominated by young people is growing, and if we do not do something about it, we might be homeless someday.
“Edo state is a place that had a plan before; as resilient and culturally inclined people that we are, our town and villages were planned before. But things have changed now. So, we need to retrospect and see where we have gotten it wrong.
“The plan is for 30 years because it is a living document, with 5 years interval for the evaluation of the plan. It will make the government accountable to the people as they are already aware of what ought to be put in place and where. We have two master plans; Edo State Regional Development Plan which is for the whole state and the Benin City Masterplan, to ensure all services are within reach.”
The stakeholders’ engagement also witnessed various presentations delivered by Commissioners in the state, detailing how the master plans can foster development in the state, and interactive question and answer sessions with the Governor.

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