By Soyombo Opeyemi
How fortuitous did the decision to go for a bank draft turn out to be! I had not used the monetary instrument in over two decades as far as I could recall. Then we literally went with our mats to Sabo, Yaba branch of the First Bank. Obtaining a bank draft was a whole day affair, in the era of tallies. The harrowing experience was exacerbated by the sheer volume of the patrons of the bank.
So I was not prepared for any time-wasting this time. My plan was to apply for the draft and come back another day to pick it. But the bank official mumbled some words. â€œDid you say I should wait?â€ I asked. â€œYes, you just need to wait for a few minutes!â€ Pleasant surprise! In less than 10 minutes or so, I was already descending the stairs of the Abeokuta branch of the First Bank, transported with joy!
My mind raced immediately to our urban renewal efforts in every part of the state, especially Abeokuta vis-a-vis the earlier criticisms of the opposition. But these people said Amosun should have repaired and maintained the existing â€˜face me I face youâ€™ roads instead of constructing modern highways! Just like expecting the First Bank to continue the use of tallies or provide comfortable seats for customers in order to cushion the trauma of having to spend the whole day to obtain a bank draft!
I must confess that I was jolted to the marrow when, upon the inauguration of the current government, I had the first-hand experience of criss-crossing Abeokuta. Why should a state capital look so ancient? The roads were so narrow that they could hardly accommodate pedestrians let alone automobiles, and the houses built so close to the roads such that a man in his bedroom could actually exchange handshake with passengers on these prized opposition motorways!
Let me say in passing that the state capital is usually the first point of contact for investors and those who transact business with government. At any rate, the ongoing massive construction in other cities of the state has shut the mouths of critics.
The gods are not asleep after all. Last December, I saw some of these detractors cruising along the international standard highways in Abeokuta, such as the Ibara-Totoro road, Onikolobo-Omida motorway, Abiola Way, etc. I saw them also on the first overhead bridge. I had thought they would avoid the use of the modern infrastructure in protest and instead pass through their famous â€˜face me I face youâ€™ roads that were yet to receive the bulldozers. So the saying is true: Everybody likes good things!
Some of their supporters threw night parties close to the illumination provided by the lights on Amosun roads. Yes, it is good to enjoy night life; the siege is over; the climate of fear has been removed. We all know what Ogun was before May 29, 2011.
If Ogun State were a commodity quoted on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, its share price would have grown geometrically from early 2012 when Amosun succeeded in fighting insecurity, which had made the state a no-go-area for investment, to a standstill.
The number of industries springing up in the state in the last two years is phenomenal.
The Business Day award to Ogun as Nigeriaâ€™s fastest-growing economy is a testament to the position of the gateway state and the value of its stock in the Nigeria Stock Exchange under the leadership of Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Itâ€™s not been a rosy story all along. No one would have anticipated that the practice of our so-called federalism would degenerate to the point that the Federal Government alone would corner such a gargantuan amount from the Federation Account while the pittance being shared by the 36 states would not be guaranteed.
But for the financial re-engineering of the Amosun government, which is to ensure that the state depends less and less on the Federation Account, one could have imagined the crisis that would have resulted from the drastic fall in the monthly federal allocation.
Whereas no government in the world (developed or developing) ever fulfils all its promises or achieves all its intentions 100 per cent â€“ however well-meaning â€“ Amosun continues to strive to ensure that all his programmes are substantially accomplished. Wherever possible, he can surpass expectations such as he has done in security architecture of the state; free education, which has led to remarkable increase in enrolment figures (he only promised Affordable and Qualitative Education); road infrastructure, which beats the imagination of all and financial sanitation, which has raised the IGR from N750 million inherited to a record 4 billion at some point without putting additional yoke on the people but just essentially blocking the drains in the old system and encouraging people to pay their tax in accordance with the extant law â€“ this has inevitably led to regular payment of salaries in spite of the fall in the constitutionally-guaranteed income from the Federation Account and fulfilling our obligations to contractors and banks without any default or piling up debts for future generations as the wonâ€™t of some leaders.
How can one forget the unprecedented investment in land-clearing equipment by this government in preparation for mechanised agriculture, the first of such quantum purchase since the creation of Ogun in 1976? Space will fail me to talk about the model Farm Settlement Scheme that will soon be launched.
Amosun couldnâ€™t have made any major promise on power considering the stranglehold of the Federal Government on the sector, backed somehow by the constitution. But realising the hopeless situation of small scale businesses across the state, he purchased and distributed 500 transformers in one iconic gesture. Iâ€™m yet to hear of such quantum of supply by any government in Nigeria in one fell swoop.
All these account for the popularity of Amosun in every nook and cranny of the state.
Politics is already in the air. Itâ€™s so easy to forget that these ground-breaking achievements have been recorded in less than 3 years out of a mandate of 4 years! As can be seen, the above piece was written about three and a half years ago. Amosun is currently in the second year of his second term. It was my presence again at the First Bank to obtain a bank draft that drove me to the memory lane.
And by a pleasant coincidence, the same Business Day had cast a banner headline the previous day, â€œLagos, Ogun exceed other states, as 60% revenue generated internally.â€ (04/09/ 2017; front page). The news story read, in part:
â€œLagos and Ogun states are fast moving away from other states in the country in financial capacity, following their ability to generate over 60 percent of their revenue internally. The two states generated 73 per cent and 63 per cent of their revenue internally in 2016. This means that in the event of a failure or shortfall in allocation from the Federation Account, the two states can internally generate at least N63 out of every N100 needed monthly. Lagos and Ogun are closely followed by Rivers, Kano and Edo States, which generated 43 per cent, 38 percent and 35 per cent respectively of their total internal revenue…â€
This is another milestone achieved by the Ibikunle Amosun administration. And when you consider the fact that Ogun comes a distant 25 out of 36 states (and far behind those four states) in terms of the revenue it gets from the Federation Account, the achievements of the Amosun government become even more remarkable. Things can only get better in Ogun…
Congratulations to The Modernizer, the architect of a new Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
â€“ Soyombo sent this piece from Abeokuta via firstname.lastname@example.org