Although recognitions through awards are not his thing, you can’t but notice the change gliding across Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s Ogun State. Adejuwon Soyinka writes
He means different things to different people. To some, he is a workaholic. To others, he is the governor of the masses, a deeply passionate leader through whose arteries, the overall best interest of the people, flows just like blood. Yet to some others, he is a purpose-driven, prudent manager of human and material resources committed to permanently changing the look and feel of Ogun State through his Mission to Rebuild.
But from whichever perspective he is viewed, one thing is however constant and that is the fact that Senator Ibikunle Amosun as governor of Ogun State is one man, who constantly shies away from accolades, awards and recognitions in spite of the fact that his achievements in office in the last five years, easily recommend him for many of such.
“For me, awards and recognitions are best when they come after we must have left office and people access our efforts and achievements in office,” Amosun would say each time the subject matter is broached.
However, in spite of his near aversion for awards and recognitions, Governor Amosun, like a golden fish that his sterling performance in office has made him, has no hiding place. He is constantly, literally chased around with awards, accolades and recognitions for the unparallel record of achievements that he has garnered since he assumed office as the duly elected governor of Ogun State on May 29, 2011.
In a society, where many are known to pay and literally solicit awards, Governor Amosun has turned down several. It therefore came as a pleasant surprise, when some of us, his aides were able to convince him to be physically present to receive the 2015 Vanguard Personality of the Year Award, which he won in the Governor of the Year category and was presented to him on Friday, April 8, 2016 at the Eko Hotels and Towers, Lagos.
On a lighter note, I personally consider Governor Amosun’s decision to receive the Governor of the Year Award as a birthday gift since it was presented to him at a colourful event which the organisers had coincidentally scheduled on my birthday.
Beyond that however, it was also a well-deserved honour for a man who has done more than anyone before him to permanently change the fortunes of Ogun State and its people for good. In achieving this feat, Senator Amosun was deliberate and calculated.
Indeed, Ogun State is lucky to have had in him a leader whose emergence was not in any way accidental. He first served as a Senator having been elected in 2003 to represent Ogun Central. By 2007, he tried to be governor but was adjudged to have lost the election by the powers that be then, although the people felt otherwise.
By 2011, the popular will of Ogun people was finally affirmed and Senator Amosun was sworn into office as Governor of Ogun State. The first indication that he was prepared for the job showed in the five cardinal programmes he immediately rolled out as the focus of his administration. The programme was led by education. One was therefore not surprised, when his administration quickly proceeded to make education free and ensure that no child is left behind on account of his/her economic background.
Tuition fees and all forms of levies in the state were abolished for all students in primary and secondary schools. In addition, the distribution of free textbooks to pupils of public primary and secondary schools by the Amosun administration also helped to ensure that education remains accessible for all. Not only did the Governor Amosun-led administration offset the outstanding WAEC fees it inherited from the previous administration, it also went further to consistently pay the (WAEC) fees for final-year students of public secondary schools in the state since its inauguration in May, 2011.
At the tertiary level, the Amosun administration significantly reduced tuition fees payable in all the state’s higher institutions of learning and paid bursary to 16,277 indigenous Ogun State students in all tertiary institutions in the country between 2011 and 2015.
Governor Amosun administration also provided critical infrastructure in the education sector. As at the last count, it has so far constructed 15 state-of-the-art model schools out of a planned total of 28 spread across the State. And these are not your regular schools. They are called Model Schools because they are designed to accommodate 1,000 students and over 200 teaching and non-teaching staff. They all come with boarding facilities as well as computers for virtual learning, modern science laboratories and other facilities.
All of these have been made possible partly because the Governor Amosun-led administration has consistently allocated over 20% of its yearly budget to education in accordance with UNESCO guidelines. It therefore did not come as a surprise that the administration won the 2015 Fafunwa Educational Foundation award, as the state with the highest percentage of budgetary allocation to education.
Knowing the place and importance of having a healthy population, Governor Amosun placed affordable and efficient healthcare delivery second on the five-cardinal development programme. In this respect, the Amosun-led administration for instance, upgraded the Totoro Primary Health Centre into a Comprehensive Health Centre. Such Midas touch is not limited to Totoro PHC. It is to be replicated in the other Local Government Areas of the State.
Prior to the Amosun touch, the Totoro PHC was a three-room centre with an attached outpost structure used as antenatal care and reception area. This facility was demolished and replaced with the construction of a state-of-the-art one-storey building with a partial underground section. Equally currently enjoying the Governor Amosun touch is the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH) which can now boast of a state-of-the-art Radio-Diagnostic Centre established through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative. This Centre provides services such as multi-dimensional digital X-ray, ultrasound facility, telemedicine, mammography, fluoroscopy and CT scan.
Little wonder that during the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak of 2014, Ogun State came out unscathed in spite of the risk presented by the numerous, yet porous borders that Ogun State shares with the West African sub-region and the fact that it is the gateway to all other parts of the country.
Today, the need to not only return to the cultivation of the land but also engage in agriculture value chain addition is one that is crystal clear to government at all levels in Nigeria. This is however one other area where the vision in Governor Amosun easily shines through. As soon as he assumed office in 2011, Governor Amosun made this a critical component of his five cardinal programmes in Ogun State.
The governor was driven by the proximity of Ogun State to a vibrant consumer market in Lagos and the West African sub-region and the abundance of land and labour within its territory. Therefore, since May 2011, 15,221 hectares of agricultural land has been allocated for the development of various crops and the raising of livestock, notably poultry. Priority crops include Cassava, Rice, Oil Palm, Cocoa and a range of vegetables.
The Governor Amosun-led administration entered into an agreement with the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture to develop a 500-hectare rice plantation, positioning Ogun State to help drive an important dimension of the national economic diversification efforts. It also developed farm estates for both crops and livestock, engaging young farmers within the state in Agriculture. The Owowo Model Farm Estate is a laudable example of this effort.
Today, thanks to the visionary leadership of Senator Amosun, Ogun State is the most industrialised sub-national in Nigeria. Statistics from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) indicate that Ogun State Industrial Zone Ranked 1st in 2014, while new investment into Ogun in 2014 was valued at N514.87 billion, an increase from 2013 investment of N376.57 billion and total Investment stood at N691.77 billion (74%) by the end of 2014.
A total number of 88 new factories have been commissioned between 2011 to date, thus bringing the total number of factories in the state to 371. More than 100 companies made requests for land, while many others are at various stages of construction. In fact, in its latest economic review (2015), MAN said the production value recorded by the Ogun Industrial Zone accounted for 69 per cent of the total production for all zones, thus re-confirming Ogun as the industrial hub of Nigeria.
As the industries and foreign investors keep pouring in, the Governor Amosun-led administration was also clear ahead of time about the need to provide quality housing for them. This is why the provision of affordable housing is one of the five cardinal programmes of the administration. In this respect, a number of housing development projects have been completed, catering for a range of income levels.
These include HID Awolowo Housing Estate, Plainfields Estate and A.A.K Degun Estate. There is also the President Muhammadu Buhari Estate situated on a 170 hectares expanse of land along the Abeokuta-Sagamu Expressway. This estate is designed as a Site and Services scheme and is strategically located at less than two minutes’ drive from the main Abeokuta Township.
Equally critical to the Governor Amosun administration mission to rebuild Ogun State is the construction of major roads and bridges in the state, whose capital, Abeokuta, used to be described as ancient. Today, Abeokuta has shed the toga of an ancient city and now wears the robe of modernity. For this to happen, Amosun’s government constructed the Ibara-Totoro Road, the first international standard six-lane road in the state.
It built the flyover at Ibara, also the first constructed by any administration since the creation of the state in 1976. The first 10-lane boulevard, which begins at Sokori and opens up into the elaborate Itoku Bridge, is a stamp of modernisation affixed to the state capital by the current administration.
These developments are not limited to Abeokuta. In Ijebu Ode for instance, the Amosun-led administration constructed the Mobalufon overhead bridge. Other overhead bridges in Sabo, Sagamu, Lagos Garage in Ijebu Ode, Sapon and Iyana Mortuary in Abeokuta have been completed and commissioned while work is ongoing on those at Ijebu Igbo, Ilaro as well as five different bridges along the Sango-Ojodu road.
Within the Ogun West Senatorial District, the Governor Amosun-led administration is also constructing the longest road, cutting across four local councils in the area. The 107km Ilara-Ijoun Road is designed to put an end to the stress commuters often go through criss-crossing that area and linking up with the borders Nigeria shares with neighbouring Benin Republic.
Within Ado-Odo Ota Local Council area, the Governor Amosun-led administration is also responsible for massive reconstruction of the all-important Ilo-Awela Road and also modernised Ota environs through the construction of modern township roads.
Indeed, the present day Ogun State, under the current government, is one huge construction site. And Governor Amosun is not done yet. “By the time we are through, we would have about 24 to 25 flyovers in Ogun State. Indeed, by December, we would have had 15 up and running in Ogun State,” Governor Amosun said recently.
Again, he is not stopping there. In fact, a little bird tells me that the action governor of Ogun State is also planning to expand the IBB Boulevard which directly leads into the state capital from Sagamu Interchange into a 10-lane super highway. Not only that, he also intends to bring his dream of having a fast rail transport system linking Ogun with Lagos into reality before the end of his tenure of office.
Now tell me, with all of these achievements, why wouldn’t Governor Amosun be literally chased around with awards, accolades and commendations?
-Soyinka is Senior Special Assistant on Media and spokesman for Governor Ibikunle Amosun
From whichever perspective he is viewed, one thing is however constant and that is the fact that Senator Ibikunle Amosun as governor of Ogun State is one man, who constantly shies away from accolades, awards and recognitions in spite of the fact that his achievements in office in the last five years, easily recommend him for many of such