Groundwork for Governance Reset in Ogun

Dapo Abiodun

By Kunle Somorin

There is a wide misconception or an overly misinterpretation of the concept of 100 Days in Office that the Governor of Ogun State, His Excellency Prince Dapo Abiodun, has been able to demystify once and for all. In the past, as is the convention in many parts of Nigeria (and, indeed, the world over), political officeholders begin to choreograph symbolic tangibles dedicated to celebrating their 100 Days in office. Simply put, the day is seen as a landmark which should be celebrated with pomp and pageantry; to serve as a showcase of what has been achieved in just 100 days.

In Ogun, however, Prince Abiodun has been thinking very differently. Nothing stops him from emblematically giving some public buildings and infrastructure momentary facelift, wrap them in red ribbons and colourful balloons and then with a flashy scissors “commission” them in commemorating his 100 Days in office. But then, the strategic thinking, planning and efficiency in service delivery the governor brings from his sojourn as a private sector executive before becoming a governor wouldn’t allow him to regard his 100 Days in Office as a celebration.

Not to be mistaken, Prince Abiodun recognises the culture of 100 Days in Office, but not as a celebration. He believes that the period does not afford any administration the opportunity to flaunt its report sheet. Rather, it is a period of assessment of the acceptability of the leadership projections and an opportunity of intense engagement of the people. If the period of electioneering was an avenue to present ideas and concepts to the people, Prince Abiodun believes that his First 100 Days in Office should be a period of testing those ideas and putting his plans on the table for the buy-in of the good people of Ogun State. Prince Abiodun’s First 100 Days in Office has been a period of putting in place the foundation of his vision for the state in the next four years.

Since May 29, when he was inaugurated as the Governor of Ogun State, it is this mindset of a strategic approach to governance that has formed the basis of every executive decision made by Prince Abiodun. And those familiar with the organised private sector (OPS), from where Prince Abiodun brings lavishly rich experience of planned efficiency into political leadership, understand that groundwork, although a milestone in its own right, does not tell the entire story. To Prince Abiodun, 100 Days in Office is an evaluation of the Grand Plan; it is the people for whom it is meant who celebrate it as a form of acceptance.

So what has the Governor been up to in the past 100 days? For starters, no plan succeeds –regardless of how noble – if its target beneficiaries don’t accept it. In view of this, Governor Abiodun started by embarking on an extensive tour of the state to meet with the citizens of Ogun across all the local governments based on the fact that he didn’t want to provide ‘want’ for a community in ‘need’, vice versa.

In many circumstances during his tour, he had brought immediate succour to many in need of emergency interventions. While trying to sell his ideas and obtain citizens’ inputs, he found himself offering immediate solutions to perennial problems. As mentioned earlier, this is why the business of “celebrating” 100 Days in Office is the prerogative of the people who already feel served within 100 days.

The last 100 days have also been of strategic interactive sessions with stakeholders in the seven critical areas of Prince Abiodun’s governance, i.e. security, healthcare, rural development, agriculture, human capital and workers’ welfare, infrastructure and technology. Whether it is meeting farmers, security personnel, civil servants, union leaders, healthcare workers, business leaders or international development partners, Prince Abiodun has unequivocally and constantly affirmed that his ultimate goal was the growth and development of Ogun State and its people.

At a meeting with Permanent Secretaries in the state’s civil service, Prince Abiodun shared his vision to reposition the Service as an efficient, service delivery organ of government. At his visit to the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Prince Abiodun was clear about the fact that the facilities at the hospital were in such a deplorable state that they couldn’t be used to produce any world class doctor. He promised a turnaround in the health and education sectors. True to his word, he recently approved the employment of medical practitioners for the teaching hospital as part of recommendations by the committee set up to look into repositioning the health institution.

At a security meeting with heads of security and intelligence community in the state, Prince Abiodun announced a review of the state’s security strategy as a new measure to tackle kidnappings and general insecurity in the state.

“We are going to be re-launching our security trust fund. We have an amended bill that is on its way to the house of assembly now, because, we look at the existing bill, we compared it to other bills in other states where the security trust fund had worked very effectively and efficiently, we’ve identified the gaps in our bill and we have sent an amended version of the bill to the house of assembly.

“The new security trust fund will have all the governance that it requires, it will have a Chairman, Executive Secretary, board, it will have a commitment from a few financial institution of note and a few people from the private sector that are committed to serving on the board, we are also committed to funding this fund, we on the part of the state will also commit to our funding as well,” the governor said.

Again, Prince Abiodun’s fidelity to his word came to play within 100 days, as he has inaugurated the committee to oversee the now-amended Ogun State Security Trust Fund, whose law the governor gave accelerated enunciation. “It is a demonstration of our government’s unreserved commitment towards ensuring that the people have a good life and pursue their legitimate business in a secured environment,” Abiodun said.

Under Prince Abiodun and within 100 days, Ogun State, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), is already embarking on an ambitious plan to raise10,000 young and upwardly mobile farmers by giving them acres of land, clearing the land for them, providing seedlings and creating markets for their products in the fashion the late Obafemi Awolowo created the Marketing Board for cocoa farmers. And since agriculture is one of the core sectors of his administration, Prince Abiodun has laid down a plan to establishment a dry port in Ewekoro to handle agriculture and agro-allied products.

Corporate governance has been central to how Prince Abiodun is piloting the affairs of Ogun State. He has opened up the political space for inclusiveness as promised during electioneering. He has been most concerned about competence as a criterion for appointing people than other considerations. Party affiliation, tribal correctness and other sundry parameters are secondary to the governor and this much is in the full glare of all.

These have been Governor Dapo Abiodun’s efforts to reset governance in Ogun to what techies would call ‘factory setting’ (what it was designed and ought to be) from the personal deplorable tweakings of the immediate past. Interestingly, he has done so without disrupting or having to ground core functions or ‘default setting’, so much that even if 100 Days in Office is reduced to the kind of symbolism mentioned in the opening of this piece, he has achieved it too; although more as a side attraction than the main plan. They include: the renovation of 236 primary schools and 236 primary healthcare centres in the state, representing one school in each ward. Three roads per local government have also been repaired.