After seven years of incubating Destination Edo, Godwin Obaseki, the visionary leader and governor behind the rebranding of Edo, under the defining Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) agenda, finally opened the destination to the world to feast on its unique, coloruful and exciting offerings. It was done in a grand style, with Obaseki heading the tour of the destination in what was tagged Ancient City Tour.
The one-day tour was one of the activities that marked the recently held seventh edition of Alaghodaro, an annual gathering staged by the state government in conjunction with the private sector to showcase the investment opportunities available in the state. This year’s summit was Alaghodaro was unique in the sense that it was designed among others to exhibit and expose the achievements, with particular reference to the projects that were attracted to the state by the government and those executed also by the state government under Obaseki’s watchful guidance.
The tour was conducted in two segments, with the governor leading a number of the guests and residents to visit and commission some of the projects executed in the state by the private sector. Three of these projects are in the Ologbo axis of the state, which one of the investors rightly described as the energy hub of the state. The first project toured was the Green- Hill project, an ethanol factory.
History was made when for the first time in the state, a road project constructed by the promoters of GreenHill, SaroAfrica, executed under the Tax Credit Scheme of the state, whereby the investor’s tax is deployed directly by the investor to construct facilities for the state. This time, 3.5 kilometers road leading to the factory was constructed by the company under the scheme.
The governor commended the promoters for their commitment, especially for taking a risk in investing in the state when many investors didn’t see the potential and transformation that was being engineered by his government. Another project in the axis, which is just a walking distance from GreenHill, is the Edo Refinery. Again, it is an historic feat, the first refinery by any state government in Nigeria.
The promoters of the refinery applauded the vision and commitment of the governor, especially for the conductive environment, support and ease of doing business in the state. The third and final project on the axis visited the day, was Ossiomo Power Planted located in Ossiomo Industrial Park. This independent power project is one of the star projects executed by Obaseki that many people and the residents are quite happy about.
For many, this defines the MEGA agenda of the governor. The second segment of the tour was conducted by team members of the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism as well as the Local Organising Committee of Alaghoadro, with visit to some of the landmark projects and tourist attractions within Benin City. It was an executing, fun filled and fulfilling moment as well as discovery for the tourists as they toured from one point of the city to another feasting on the different projects and attractions.
The departure point for the tour was the Edo Marquee, GRA, Benin City, which is part of Edo Hotel that is created and rebranded by Obaseki. The marquee is a world class event centre fitted with modern facilities for hosting events of different nature. It has become event venue of first choice by many of the residents, including the state government as many of the state government activities such as state banquet, are staged at the venue.
First attraction visited was the Shoprite Shopping complex on Sapele Road, which is almost completed. Next was the John Odigie-Oyegun Public Service Academy (JOOPSA), which is another signature project of Obaseki and best exemplified the reformation and transformation of the state by the governor. Other attractions toured include The Gender-Based Violence Centre, one of the pet projects of the First Lady, Mrs Betsy Obaseki.
There was also The Golf Mew; a first class real estate constructed by the state government for residential use. Sir Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub; housing world class sound, stage, make up and film editing studios among others; the Nigerian Observer complex; a rebranded Edo State government publishing outfit, fitted with modern commercial printing facilities.
The exciting drive through the city also berthed at The Agric Hall by the Benin Airport; Labour House; Edo Education Hub building; Benin Central Park-Obakhav- baye by Oba market; the park was an amazing sight to behold, with modern facilities, colourful and rich ambience, the type you see in Europe, on display. The tour climaxed with a reception in one of the popular eateries in the city, here the tourists were treated to some sumptuous local and English delicacies of choice, with a lot to drink and take- away packs for those who wanted.
For many of the tourists, particularly residents, who over the years have not taken out time to visit a number of these sites and projects, it was a revealing and discovery of a life time expedition for them to see for themselves the level of transformation that the city has witnessed in this seven years of Obaseki
. They were full of commendations for the governor as they sang his praise at different points, pouring encomiums on the man they all fondly call ‘The Wake and See Governor,’ an apparent reference to the manner in which the governor has dutifully turned the sour pain points of the people to that of joy and celebration. As the governor set forth on the last year of his eight years administration that is expected to terminate on November 11, 2024, it is hoped and expected that he would vigorously pursue his vision of ending well as he has Christened this last one year as that of Obaseki Finishing Well (#Obasekifinishingwell).