Examining Abiodun’s Determination to Build a Better Ogun

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Lanre Alfred writes that Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State has a clear-cut blueprint and crystal-clear vision of how he plans to actualise his ‘Building our Future Together’ agenda for the people

For several years, water was a scarce commodity in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, and environs. Millions of households had to improvise to get that basic necessity of life. Worse for the people was that the Ogun State Water Corporation in Arakanga, Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state, had been comatose. The corporation has a pumping capacity of 103.68 million litres per day, yet, nothing was done to make it work; until recently. Akinsanya Ahmed, a resident, said even they in Arakanga suffer from water scarcity.

Governor Dapo Abiodun, who believes that water is not only an essential commodity but a right to which people should not be denied, didn’t see why the situation should persist regardless of the challenges. Recently, he embarked on an assessment tour of the corporation where he was confronted with its derelict and degenerate state. He announced on the spot that water would not only be restored, but there would also be prompt repair and restoration of faulty transformers in the corporation. That was early January.

Two months later, the story has changed. When our correspondent visited the community earlier in the week, water had become available in many households now while the governor has promised that the corporation would be optimised in the months ahead for the benefits of the people. But that is just one out of the many silent but impactful transformations going on in the state.

Rural and township roads in Ogun State were an eyesore. The reality of the situation made the governor vow in his early days in office that his administration was determined to make it easy for people to move with relative ease between Lagos and Ogun State. He promised then that the roads linking Ogun to neighbouring states would receive priority attention as well as the construction of rural roads to foster development. Thus, to serve as a quick fix mechanism to address the deplorable condition of the roads, Governor Abiodun established the Ogun State Public Works Agency because, “Infrastructure, for us, is key to development. We have been able to demonstrate a commitment to the continued socio-economic development of our dear state, particularly in education, health, infrastructure and other key sectors that have a direct and positive impact on our people.

“You will recall that we requested that our people should select roads that should attract immediate attention in each of the 236 wards across our dear state. These roads are receiving an immediate intervention. This is in addition to government’s identified projects that will be spread across the three senatorial districts of our dear state.”

The Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Ade Akinsanya pointed out that besides the road construction and rehabilitation, the state government had also begun the re-designing and proper channelization of drainage in different parts of the state and explained that works were being done with a view to checking flooding being experienced by residents and road users in the state.

As the media team went around the state during the tour, it was evident that the OGPWA is proving to be efficient and responsive in rehabilitating roads. Commendably, the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road, which had been in a state of disrepair leading to abandonment by commuters because successive administrations in the state only mouthed reconstructing it but never made good their words, has got a new lease of life.

Weeks back, Governor Abiodun turned the sod on the very important road, saying, “One of our promises was to provide infrastructure in all parts of our state. In the course of our campaign, I made a promise that our administration will rehabilitate and reconstruct the Ogun end of the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road to bring succour to our people and engender the economic development of our state.”

The dual carriage road is planned to have 10 lanes – four on each side with one pull-out section – and a toll plaza comprising 14 payment points. Aside from easing traffic on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the road would bring relief to commuters and indigenes, save Nigerians valuable time in traffic and engender the socio-economic growth of the state. Governor Abiodun said that the project was necessary as it would be an easy link to Lagos, thus improving the economic and social well-being of those in the axis.

Speaking with one of the engineers of the contractor, Craneburg Construction Ltd, a leading civil engineering company, he said the state government had given them a completion date and they were working round the clock to ensure that they did not disappoint. “We work day and night and are committed to meeting the completion date as agreed with the state government,” the engineer said.

Beyond physical projects, some of Governor Abiodun’s initiatives are centred on empowering the people and making life better for them. This was why he launched in September 2019, about four months into his administration, the Oko-owo Dapo, an empowerment initiative to provide funds to women who are involved in legitimate SMEs across the state. The initiative also aims to enhance trade as well as micro, small and medium scale enterprises. 2000 women benefitted in the first phase of the initiative as it is envisaged to reach at least 100,000 women in the first year of the Abiodun-administration. Beneficiaries could be market women, politicians, members of women’s societies, religious associations or trade associations.

And to reduce the unemployment rate in the state, Governor Abiodun created the Ogun Job Portal, which aims to tackle the scourge of unemployment by linking the state’s unemployed youths with matching job opportunities in the labour market. Describing the job portal as one of the initiatives that would take the good people of Ogun State out of unemployment while also bettering the career chances of the employed, Governor Abiodun said that the portal is particularly suited to prepare the people to fit into appropriate sectors while revitalising all the sectors of the state’s economy. To underscore his seriousness in this regard, one of the earliest appointments Governor Abiodun made was that of Olalekan Olude, an award-winning entrepreneur, co-founder of Jobberman Limited, the leading job site in sub-Saharan Africa and founding partner of the African Talents Company in South Africa. Olude is also the co-founder and Executive Director at Rovedana Limited, a business process outsourcing company that provides employment to more than 2000 Nigerians across different industries and specialises in upscaling and placing them into employment with over 100 companies.

For information and communications technology-savvy youth, the governor also created the Ogun Tech Hub and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) Centre. Located along Kobape Road, Abeokuta Expressway, the Ogun Tech Hub is sited on a vast expanse of land hitherto housing an abandoned school building. It was, however, re-purposed for the tech hub and is now a sight to behold at night and during the day. Inside is a sprawling tableau of ICT experts, trainees and gadgets. Governor Abiodun said that the hub was conceptualised to make Ogun “the one-stop-shop for technological innovations across Africa where start-up companies will conveniently be set up. This step is firstly a result of the collaboration of tech enthusiasts and private sector players largely independent of our government.” Essentially, the Ogun Tech Hub and STEM is a grand step geared towards fostering creativity and achievement of purpose for technologists, social entrepreneurs, tech companies, impact investors, and even ethical hackers and governments around Ogun State. The Hub will also serve as a knowledge platform where citizens can connect, share, build new skills and competencies to solve local challenges that improve the quality of life of Nigerians.

It is perhaps, in the area of security, health and education that the governor seems to have breasted the tape. At the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, an enduring monument for educational purposes reputed as the largest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre in any Nigerian university, has sprung up. The multi-purpose complex, commissioned in February, sits 3,000 persons at a time and is fitted with all the gizmos that make reading profound and pleasurable. There are also computers, printers, free Wi-Fi facilities and training programmes required to make learning and teaching easier for researchers and staff of the university.

In the same institution, internal roads are being reconstructed among other amenities. In the period under review, the governor has offered automatic employment to the best graduating students in institutions like the OOU, Tai Solarin College of Education and the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro. He made free education mandatory for pupils in primary and secondary schools who had been subjected to paying indiscriminate fees and levies with little or nothing to justify such payments. His declaration of free education put an immediate end to the N3, 700 levied on students as adopted by the former administration on the advice of the Parents Teachers Association. Also, the Abiodun administration has embarked on the rehabilitation of public schools across the 236 wards in the state while creating a mouth-watering reward system for teachers in both private and public schools.

Towards fulfilling his promise to make healthcare services accessible, affordable and qualitative to the people of Ogun State, Governor Abiodun has revealed that his administration is putting in place a health insurance scheme to meet the health needs of the citizenry. This, he said, became necessary because healthcare services come at a huge cost for many Nigerians.

The Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, OOUTH, Sagamu, is currently wearing a new look as internal roads are being tarred and drainages are being better channelled while the institution is being re-equipped to meet healthcare demands, research and teaching. The OOUTH is also where the state government sited the Disease Surveillance Notification Centres (DSNC). It was designated and empowered specifically to be a DSNC in the case of an outbreak.

Governor Abiodun opines that security is integral to the prosperity and growth of any state or nation and he promised at the outset of his administration that he would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the state maximised its potential to the fullest by creating an enabling environment for residents and prospective investors. Firstly, he inaugurated the Security Trust Fund committee headed by Bolaji Balogun, Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Denham, one of Nigeria’s pre-eminent investment banking firms, to source funds for the acquisition and deployment of security equipment, personnel gear and other resources necessary to prevent crime and preserve public peace in Ogun State.

The committee is also to promote the synergy of all security agencies in the state and mobilise support in cash or kind from public and private sources in a transparent and accountable manner. Secondly, the governor signed into law the State Security Trust Fund Bill. Thirdly, he procured 100 Patrol Vehicles and 200 Bikes to aid the activities of law enforcement agents in the state while reiterating his support for efforts and ideas that would make Ogun a crime-free state. Just recently, the governor also signed into law the creation of the Western Nigeria Security outfit, Operation Amotekun.

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Governor Abiodun opines that security is integral to the prosperity and growth of any state or nation and he promised at the outset of his administration that he would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the state maximised its potential to the fullest by creating an enabling environment for residents and prospective investors. Firstly, he inaugurated the Security Trust Fund committee headed by Bolaji Balogun, Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Denham, one of Nigeria’s pre-eminent investment banking firms, to source funds for the acquisition and deployment of security equipment, personnel gear and other resources necessary to prevent crime and preserve public peace in Ogun State