Abiodun Redefines Governance in Ogun
Femi Ogbonnikan Chronicles the 100 days of the attempt at good governance in Ogun State under the leadership of Governor Dapo Abiodun
It is now a convention in Nigeria’s evolving democracy for new governments at all levels to celebrate 100 days in office. Ogun State is not an exception. In a few days, precisely on September 6, the new administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun will perform the ritual. Coming at a time when the economy of the country is on a downward trend, the government has no doubt had its own share of the financial challenge. But learning from elementary economic theory of scarcity, the governor has been able to strike a balance between the competing needs of the people and the available resources at his disposal.
Despite the huge debt profile inherited from the previous government, the 100-day in office of the administration has been a momentum of activities aimed at addressing the infrastructure deficit, declining quality of education, low morale among public servants as well as general welfare of the citizenry.
With an array of stars recruited to manage the strategic sector of the state’s economy, including Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele (a civil engineer by profession), who is the Deputy-Governor, Mr Tokunbo Talabi, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Shuaib Salisu, Chief of Staff (CoS), Mr. Dapo Okubadejo, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA), a Wizkid and promoter of Jobberman, Mr. Kunle Olude, Special Adviser (SA) on Job Creation and a host of other seasoned technocrats, the task of, ‘Building Our Future Together,’ which was Abiodun’s campaign mantra, has thus begun in earnest.
With a clear vision predicated on commitment to service, the focus of the administration encapsulates both the enablers and pillars respectively. They are good governance, security, ICT/Digital transformation, enabling business environment, agriculture and food security, health, education, power, housing, sports development, road infrastructure and environmental and physical planning, among others.
All these are driving forces for effective, efficient and smooth service delivery. Reminiscent of his inaugural speech delivered at MKO Abiola International Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta on May 29, Abiodun succinctly placed the focus of his administration: “In our determination to achieve this vision and hit the ground running, we set up Economic Transition Committee of eminent sons and daughters of Ogun state and Work Groups to develop a Blue Print and an Implementation Roadmap. The Work Groups held a series of engagements with stakeholders in the state, including but not limited to development partners and multilateral organisations.”
Ogun is a gateway state bordered by both international route and four inter-states borders. This places it on a vantage position both in terms of comparative and comparable advantage over others. Its proximity to Lagos, former Federal Capital Territory, endowed with three sea ports and airports (both local and international) and location of well over 70 manufacturing companies operating in the country, avails it (Ogun state) with enormous abounding opportunities to exploit to its advantage.
The state has the highest industrial estates, 11 in number, and three Free Trade Zones (FTZ).
Abiodun is aware and willing to exploit this also; “I strongly believe that strategic positioning and close proximity to Lagos can also be maximised to our greatest advantage where we can easily generate as much internal revenue as Lagos State, if the opportunities are properly harnessed,” said the governor at a recent stakeholders meeting.
Also, at a ‘Thanksgiving Service’ to commemorate his electoral victory held at SS Peters Church (Anglican Communion), Ake, Abeokuta, the Governor reiterated the commitment of his new administration thus: “We intend to ensure that going forward, we focus on creating that enabling environment for people to come here and invest in the state. Before you come here to invest in the state, you will want to see electricity, good roads, security and others. All these are the things that anyone coming to invest in Ogun State will want to see. We have also decided that we are going to have an improved and indeed an Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency (OGIPA) that will be headed by an investment banker, not just someone who doesn’t have what it takes to bring investment into the state.
“Till date, Ogun State has been rated largely for what we call the ‘push’ factor of Lagos, meaning that people coming to invest in Ogun State are networked to Lagos or, perhaps, there is no land available in Lagos, and that is the ‘push’ factor. We are committed to change it to a ‘pull’ factor.
“Other area of focus for us is the education sector. I said in my inaugural speech that we will declare an emergency on education. We have the largest number of tertiary and primary institutions in this country. We are what we call, as I described in my speech, ‘what Boston is to the United States.’ Ogun is the education capital of this country. However, the result of our students on both internal and external examinations have been on a decline,” said Abiodun.
At a maiden parley with both the civil and public servants held at the Arcade Ground, shortly after his assumption of office as the fifth democratically elected governor of the state, Abiodun underscored the importance of the state workers as the prime resource and pledged that his administration would make do with available resources at the disposal of the state to be fair, open, just and equitable to all the workers and pensioners. True to type, he has inaugurated a “committee on the review of appointments and promotions in the state civil service and enterprises between February 1 and May 20, 2019, a development which is aimed at repositioning both the civil and public service for effective and efficient service delivery. The Committee is chaired by Mr. Dipo Odulate, erstwhile Head of Service (HoS) in the state.
Having been inundated with a torrent of requests, ranging from regular payment of salaries and leave bonuses, defrayment of the outstanding deductions, a total halt to partial and selective promotion exercises among the cadres, to regularisation of the dichotomy between HND and Bachelor degree holders, among others, the governor animated the day when he promised to live up to expectations with the regular payment of salaries. “As part of my social contract between me and the workers, whether the Federal Allocation Account (FAAC) or the Joint Allocation Account (JAAC) comes or not, we are going to ensure that your salaries are paid regularly on/or before the last working day of the month,” said the governor.
To date, 10 months’ pension arrears have been paid, while workers have equally enjoyed the same treatment of regular payment of their salaries. The new administration has also offset salary arrears, remitted deductions to the Pension Funds Administrators (PFA).
In line with its commitment to prudence and frugality, the new administration has also blocked all leakages. Consequently, the government has been able to save nothing less than N2.5 billion monthly in excess of what the immediate past administration claimed it incurred.
As a pillar for driving economic growth and development, the administration is equally poised to ensure that all critical inter-state roads are fixed. Hence, the government, through the Public Works Agency (PWA) has begun the immediate rehabilitation of the following abandoned road projects, Oru/Iperu, 4.5 kilometre Ijebu-Mushin/Ikija, 3.7 Kilometre Ogbogbo/Igbeba, 1.4 kilometre Balogun Kuku/Aje-Alapo, 7.65 Kilometre Ejirin/Imowo/Oluwalogbon, Ijebu-Ode/Idowa/Ibefun/Itoikin, Sango/Abeokuta dual carriage ways, 32 Kilometre Sango/Akute/Ajuwon/Ojodu-Abiodun, Osi/Ita/Awolowo/Navy/AIT/Kola and a host of others.
Others include the construction of Opako Bridge at Adigbe, Abeokuta, culverts and gutters in certain parts of the ancient Ijebu-Ode community ravaged by the recent flood disaster.
Through a joint collaborative effort, Ogun and Lagos State Governors, Abiodun and Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have received the blessing of the Presidency to undertake rehabilitation of the Lagos/Sango/Abeokuta dual carriage ways (undertaken, but abandoned in 2001) and Sagamu/Ogijo/Ikorodu road to serve as alternative routes and also ease the traffic congestions often occasioned along Lagos/Ibadan expressway.
In the education sector, primary schools located in each of 236 ward wards have undergone rehabilitation to enhance conducive learning environment for the pupils. The governor has also restored normalcy in the protracted crisis that engulfed the state-owned Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Ojere, Abeokuta. For well over two years, the institution has been enmeshed in crisis over the attempt by Amosun to convert the institution into a university and the subsequent relocation of the students to Ipokia.
The same feat is equally being replicated in the state-owned Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), Omu-Ijebu, where a committee has been inaugurated to beam searchlight into the crisis rocking the institution.
Also, as the wise saying goes, ‘health is wealth’, rehabilitation works have commenced in earnest in each of the primary healthcare centres that are spread across the 236 wards in the state.
In order to empower the youths through job creation, the government has opened a portal to help prospective applicants seeking employment, be it in the formal or informal sector of the economy. Essentially, the rationale behind the scheme is to take stock of the data base of the unemployed youths in the state and to also afford them an opportunity to load vacancies free of charge. So far, no fewer than 75,000 prospective applicants have registered through the job portal.
Pursuant to its agricultural revolution, the state government through the ‘Ogun State Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme’ has inaugurated a committee-led by Prof. Peter Okunneye to oversee a programme designed to enhance self-sufficiency in food security, employment generation and poverty alleviation. The primary target of the scheme is to produce enough food to attain self-sufficiency both in the short and long-term.
Knowing the importance of security as an enabler for safety of lives and property, the government recently launched the State Security Trust Fund as a clear demonstration of its commitment to ensuring that the people have a good life and pursue their legitimate businesses in a secured environment. Essentially, the aim of the Fund, according to the governor, is to have a private sector-driven programme that would support the state government in addressing various security challenges facing the state. The Fund has Mr. Bolaji Balogun, an investment banker and Managing Director, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Plc, as chairman.
In a bid to instil confidence and accord due respect to the traditional rulers, the governor, on June 17, 2019, set up a ‘Chieftaincy Review Committee’ led by Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland. After eight weeks of its submission term, the committee made recommendations for the reversal of the last minute appointments of well over 75 Baales who were elevated as Coronet Kings by the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, at the tail end of his administration.
“We used to be first over the years, but soon afterwards, the traditional institution nosedived. We lost respect and dignity as a result of the politicisation of the traditional institution by political interference of political leaders. I will not mention names. Those that decided to descend on the traditional rulers are either alive or dead. I want to admonish political leaders to leave the traditional rulers out of politics,” declared Oba Olugbenle.
Of course, the race is not for the swift, but the monumental development and growth recorded in the last 100 days can’t be over-emphasised, as it is a clear testimony of the determination of the current administration to improve on its peoples oriented programmes for indigenes and residents of the state
With a clear vision predicated on commitment to service, the focus of the administration encapsulates both the enablers and pillars respectively. They are good governance, security, ICT/Digital transformation, enabling business environment, agriculture and food security, health, education, power, housing, sports development, road infrastructure and environmental and physical planning, among others