Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki recently stated that the younger generation must remain the foremost concern for any conscientious and accountable government. This underscores his administration’s unwavering dedication to providing high-quality and easily accessible foundational education and assistance for young people.
He conveyed this message on the 9th of August, 2023, during the inaugural League of Brainiacs event hosted by the Student Union Government (SUG) of the University of Benin in Benin City.
Commending the SUG for its innovative initiative, the Governor praised the platform for its unique emphasis on learning, knowledge acquisition, and self-challenge. The Governor expressed his delight in attending the event and highlighted his commitment to supporting such endeavours.
According to Obaseki, “This event is unique. I am very pleased because you have thought about it, organized it yourselves and executed it, emphasized what you came here to do, which is learning and acquiring knowledge, and challenged yourselves in education and learning. So far, I am pleased to attend this event.”
Governor Obaseki proposed the establishment of a trust fund to ensure the continuation of the event beyond the current SUG administration. He pledged an initial sum of 10 million nairas to initiate the trust. In addition, he promised to provide free wifi access to all students on campus within 30 days.
“As I sat down there listening to you all, I asked myself, how do we as a government or how do I as a Governor ensure this event continues? I would advise the SUG president; why not institute trust in your time? I would support that trust so that every year we can come here.
And I would put the first 10 million Naira into that trust so that this will not just be a one-off event but an event that would continue beyond the current President’s tenure.
“I want to thank all of you and assure you that I will continue to support you and this University for the rest of my tenure. My present to you is that within 30 days from today, I will provide you all with free wifi”, Obaseki said.
Underlining the significance of prioritizing the youth, the Governor reiterated his government’s emphasis on foundational education. He stressed the importance of building a solid educational foundation for future generations, enabling them to excel globally.
Obaseki stated: “As you have heard, our priority as a government is you, young people because I keep saying that what is important is not today, we already know about today, what is important is tomorrow. And who are those that represent tomorrow? It is you.
That is why we emphasize education, particularly foundational education; every child born in Edo State must get an education of the quality that equates to what you will get anywhere in the world. And once the foundation is right, you can build anything on top.”
The Governor also encouraged active participation in governance, urging young minds to take ownership of their roles in shaping the nation. He emphasized the importance of collective efforts in building a stronger society, discouraging the notion of seeking solutions through migration.
The importance of the event was further underscored by the First Lady of Edo State, Besty Obaseki, in her goodwill message. She applauded the SUG executives for their intellectual prowess and professional organization of the event. She urged the students to remain committed to enshrining good governance and transforming the nation’s political landscape.
According to the First Lady, “I am glad you have a Student Union Government that is awake and alive to the ideas of a real and progressive society. I would encourage you to continue and do this annually. Let this become a culture and help transform our youth into leaders in the university community and Nigeria. As you know, Edo is a leader. We show others the way.”
Addressing education’s transformative impact, Obaseki contrasted enlightened societies’ approaches with the Nigerian experience. She praised Governor Obaseki’s leadership for exemplifying how educated and informed individuals can contribute positively to politics and governance.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Lilian I. Salami, ably represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Ekehuan Campus, Professor B.A. Ayinde thanked the Governor for gracing the occasion with his presence and providing numerous infrastructural developments in the University and environs, not minding that it is a federal university.
Salami said: “We appreciate all the various things you have done for this University. We cannot name them all. But it is noteworthy to mention the central park at the bank road, which was singlehandedly constructed by the performing Governor of Edo State.
Equally, all developments we had on the University of Benin roads were carried out by the Governor. His wife, the First Lady, has also contributed immensely to developing education in the University.”
On his part, the SUG President, Comrade Israel Nmoye, applauded the Governor Obaseki-led education reforms through its EdoBEST program, which has set Edo on a world stage, bringing other sub-nationals and nations for an understudy tour in the state.
Nmoye said: “I have keyed into your vision on education, how you have transformed education in Edo State. You have done so much in the education sector and brought that innovation to the University of Benin.
The Governor is a student-loving person. The University of Benin is a federal institution, not a state university, but the Governor thought it wise to reward it because he does not compromise or discriminate. He is a lover of all, whether federal or state school. He is open to development.”
The climax of the occasion featured the presentation of the award to Governor Godwin Obaseki in recognition of his significant contributions to education reforms within the University of Benin, his support for the current SUG executives, and his impactful initiatives that benefit the university community.
Also, present at the event were; the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Blessing Agbebaku; the President of the World Medical Association, Dr Osahon Enabulele; representatives from various university faculties, amongst others.