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Edo Ranks Among Top States in GDP Growth, Human Trafficking Eradication, Security, Others, as Gov Obaseki Faults Central Bank on Current Monetary Policies

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By John Ewah & Godspower Eguasa

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has expressed delight on the gains of ongoing economic reforms in the state, noting that Edo now ranks as one of the top states in terms of GDP growth in Nigeria, with a drastic reduction in crime rate, human trafficking and irregular migration among Edo youths and residents of the state.

Obaseki disclosed this during the Annual Dinner of the Nigerian Bankers Committee, Edo Branch, held on Saturday March 2, 2024, in Benin City.

Obaseki who appreciated the immense role played by banking institutions in propelling growth and driving development in the state, assured of the state government’s continued support and collaboration with institutions to sustain ongoing developmental initiatives in the state.

According to Obaseki, “I want to thank each and every bank and the management for taking advantage of the opportunities that we have struggled to create in the last seven years or more. Ours is the story of real reforms and growth.

“All of you can tell from your various branches and your various banks that the Edo of seven years ago when I came in as Governor is not the same Edo today; the economy has grown, your deposit sizes have grown substantially and many of you have had to expand your branches across the state.

“If you recall seven years ago when we came in here, by this time, we all would be scampering to go back home because we were not sure of the security of the city. Today you can stay here till the early hours of the morning and walk home, and I am almost certain, nothing will happen to any of you.

“That ability to restore security began to give confidence to our people, who now began to bring their money back home to invest in the opportunities we have been creating.”

Obaseki highlighted his administration’s strides in combating human trafficking and irregular migration, stressing that the state now ranks as one of the top states in Nigeria in terms of GDP growth, as a result of youth upskilling and job creation programs by his administration, which currently serve as a boost to the state’s economy.

“In 2017, I got a report from the International Office of Migration. There were more than 30,000 young Edo boys and girls in Libya waiting to cross to Europe. That was how bad things were. Today, the story is different.

“Edo no longer ranks as that state known for trafficking. We have created opportunities, we have created institutions such as EdoJobs, giving skills to young men and women, and many of them are now gainfully employed.

“I am glad that seven years after, Edo State now ranks as one of the top states in terms of GDP growth in Nigeria. And the evidence is there. Flights are full coming to this town, hotels are full; People would not be coming here to spend money if there were no opportunities for them”.

Obaseki further commended the bankers for their swift intervention during the event of cash scarcity which affected citizens and residents in the state.

While highlighting the gains made by his administration across the six thematic pillars of the Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) agenda, Obaseki empathized with citizens and residents of the state, on the current economic downturn crippling the nation, noting that while his administration continues to deliver measures to uplift Edo people, the tough times would not last.

Obaseki said: “As I wind down as Governor, I want to let you know that I am leaving a state that is becoming very economically strong. I am leaving a state where agricultural production is being ramped up significantly.

“We have given out almost 100,000 hectares of land for oil palm cultivation, and next week, I will be launching a smallholder program to support the big estate, and also to encourage people to cross-plant other crops with oil palm so that we can increase food production in the state.

“I am leaving a state that is the most digitally connected state in Nigeria today. We have laid over 2,000 kilometers of fiber optics in Edo State. All local governments now have fiber. So your branches in these local governments can be connected at the right price because you are bankers.

“I am leaving a state that is leading in terms of electricity generation. We have Azura power that is generating over 450 megawatts that is stabilizing the national grid. That is an initiative of the Edo State Government. We also have Ossiomo Power. Investors are lined up to generate more power in the state. Now we have the enabling law; the Edo State Electricity Regulation Law that will allow us to regulate those who want to come and generate power and distribute power in Edo State.”

Obaseki who noted that the basis for economic growth in the state has already been laid, urged participants and guests at the event to take advantage of the opportunities created to grow their businesses and banks.

Commenting on the current decline of the Nigerian economy, the Governor remarked that it was not unexpected, as it was envisaged from the ill-advised economic policies at the centre, further faulting the Central Bank of Nigeria on their current monetary policies, which according to him will not lead to economic growth and development. He urged those saddled with the responsibility to act responsibly and carry everyone along.

According to Obaseki, “No doubt the next few months will be difficult for you bankers, because the policies that have just been rolled out by the Central Bank, unfortunately, will not support growth in our economy. Interest rates are already very high, and jacking up interest rates clearly will not allow small borrowers and small businesses access to credit at the price to help them grow their businesses.

“And when an economy is in this state, it needs all the push and support it can. So, I understand the monetary rationale for increasing MPR, but fundamentally and fiscally it is not going to lead to growth in our economy.

“We must focus on the fundamentals which is increasing production, making sure our citizens produce the goods and services we consume and depend less on imports. Our economic policy and monetary policy cannot be determined by exchange rates alone.

“This whole issue of increasing the cash reserves and the bid to tighten liquidity is going to be detrimental to our economy. I understand the challenge the monetary authorities face, but unfortunately, you cannot clap with one hand.

“The economy is about fiscal and monetary policies. Both must work hand in hand. And when they do not, as they do not in Nigeria, we will have a crisis. So, we should focus on fiscal issues so that we can grow our economy out of the challenges we have”.

Obaseki however urged participants and citizens not to give in to panic because of foreign exchange, noting that government at all levels should execute plans that will boost the local economy in order to earn more foreign exchange, while stressing on the prioritization of job creation for the youths.

#edofinishingstrong #EdoMustBeClean #InvestinEdo #EdoMEGA

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