2024 governorship: Agba envisions a new Edo, takes up the gauntlet, by Sufuyan Ojeifo

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It’s no secret that today, the “heartbeat of the nation”- Edo State- and for that matter, Nigeria, stand on the brink of substantial disruptions – and of considerable opportunity – as new political governance models challenge traditional playbooks.

Nobel Literature Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro perhaps alluded to this quirky scenario when he observed that his prize “comes at a time when the world is uncertain about its values, its leadership and its safety.”

It is against this challenging backdrop of kindred uncertainties that the immediate past Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, on December 14, 2023, threw his hat in the ring, firmly taking up the gauntlet for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State, and anchoring his electioneering on the “Edo Okpa MaKhin” mantra that is hinged on the kindred spirit.

But, for now, he is on a whistle-stop tour, of sorts, to the 18 local government areas to interface with party leaders and his loyalists on the forthcoming voyage to a new Edo State.

As it were, the imperative of bringing in cutting-edge leadership with compelling vision and courage that would ensure both stability and progression in an age of uncommon disruption makes the entry of Prince Clem Agba a significant milestone; and, perhaps, not surprisingly, this has unsettled many.

A blue-blooded, down to earth Prince but not given to princely airs, he addressed a huge crowd of loyalists, supporters, and party leaders at his campaign office in Benin and that was shortly after he addressed the State Working Committee of the party on his development agenda of TRUST, which underpins his focus on Transforming the Rural and Urban Spaces Together.

“Today, I stand before you filled with a sense of profound responsibility and unwavering commitment. I am honoured to formally announce my intention to contest for the APC Gubernatorial ticket of our great state, Edo,” Prince Agba told the rapt audience during his declaration. His words: “This decision, borne from deep reflections and extensive consultations with my beloved family, distinguished leaders of our party, and a wide range of stakeholders across the State and country, reflects my dedication to our shared future.

“I am deeply humbled and grateful for the trust and confidence bestowed upon me by those who have supported and inspired me on this journey. I pray for your continued support and prayers in our shared voyage.”

According to him, having been raised in Edo North, educated in Edo Central, and united by marriage with Edo South, his life’s journey mirrored the multifaceted beauty and complexity of Edo State. He noted that this unique blend of experiences, coupled with his career in the public and organised private sectors, had allowed him to engage with a diverse array of communities and institutions, both locally and globally.

“Consequently, I have witnessed the struggles of families, the frustrations of small businesses, and the deprivations of our communities. The disconnect between sub-national governments and the central government has further aggravated the multidimensional poverty among our people.

“Our daily challenges are evident. Our schools, hospitals, and roads, which were once symbols of progress, cry out for urgent renewal. We must not only restore these infrastructures but also elevate them to a standard befitting of our State’s aspirations. This is the path of development I believe in, and I am championing,” he stated.

A vintage minimalist when it comes to language, tastes, simple living, philosophy, governance efficiency and more, Prince Agba captures the essence of his stepping out to provide a new direction for his beloved state with: TRUST – Transforming our Rural and Urban Spaces Together.

TRUST fundamentally encapsulates the planned growth of Edo State’s economy, promotion of integrated rural development and urban renewal, improvement of access to health, education, potable water, and sanitation and ultimately improvement of the citizens’ standard of living.

Asserting that Edo’s schools, hospitals, and roads, which were once symbols of progress, now cry out for urgent renewal, Agba promised not only to restore these infrastructures but also elevate them to a standard befitting of the state’s aspirations.

A firm believer in leveraging the power of human thought to transform society, Prince Agba strongly believes that weaponising development planning is a powerful governance template to catalyze and accelerate positive human and societal progression.

Quite aware that Edo State is a cultural powerhouse, Prince Agba shares some insight into his awareness of the place of culture in human development. His words: “The Benin kingdom, one of the historic kingdoms of the world, is the custodian of the Edo heritage and culture. We must showcase this heritage, not only for its incredible arts and culture but also as a cornerstone of our identity and potential for development.”

Further, according to Agba, “I will carry the aspirations of our people and re-engineer our State, creating a vibrant environment for success. I am committed to bringing forth innovative solutions and fostering collaboration for the benefit of all residents of our state.

“As we embark on this transformative journey, igniting a fresh approach of bold ideas, social justice, and democratic ideals, I call on all our party members to join hands with me in this noble endeavour to unite our party for a brighter Edo State.

“However, this journey requires your support, ideas, and involvement. Together, we can build a movement that heralds the positive change our state deserves. Together, let us embark on this journey of TRUST, towards a new era of growth, unity, and prosperity.”

Prince Agba’s TRUST agenda scores very high because, often, the absence of properly-defined objectives relevant to the state’s needs and inadequate administrative machinery to provide a high-level capacity for plan implementation becomes a hurdle.

As the immediate past Minister of Budget and National Planning, who studied multidimensional poverty in the country, Prince Agba realised that deprivation was actually a major form of poverty. He noted that every ward in the state ordinarily was supposed to house a primary healthcare centre with nurses and medical doctors’ quarters attached. This is not the case in Edo, but Agba said he was prepared to change that narrative.

It’s a given that powerful visions attract ideas, people and other relevant resources; they create the momentum and will to catalyze changes. They inspire individuals, complementary democratic organizations and institutions to commit, to persist, and give their best. Keying into this enduring philosophy, unassuming Prince Agba will certainly leverage impeccable professionalism, discipline, and persistence to change the traditional narrative of the administrative and governance responsibilities in transforming Edo.

No less a child of providence, who wields influence and authority with alluring humility and exemplary focus, Prince Agba has demonstrated with his life’s trajectory that education, politics and culture fundamentally address transformation of society and the human condition for good.

To date, Prince Agba unabashedly maintains this unique footing: an unwavering sense of duty, rigorous training and professionalism, open government advocacy, demonstrable integrity and a strong faith in his beloved God form the navigational compass of his life story.

He impatiently rejects staying tamely at the end of received policy prescriptions. He covets knowledge-driven innovations, proactive engagement with stakeholders, policy makers, and surefooted actions. These dimensions have been boldly mirrored in his leadership of public and private sector organisations.

Indeed, Prince Agba was spot on when he proclaimed: “Edo Okpa Ma Khin,” meaning – “Edo We Are One.” For a patriot who loves his state and country, the time for Edo to closely embrace and position their circumspect son to change their story is now. There is an urgency of now for Edo people to rally round Agba to transform Edo State into a “wadoghe” phenomenon (a marvel to behold). Analysts contend that with what he did as minister of state for budget and national planning, attracting well over 100 projects to the state, he had demonstrated capacity, responsibility and responsiveness to the needs and deprivations of the good people of Edo.

■ Ojeifo, publisher of THE CONCLAVE (online newspaper), can be reached via [email protected]

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