Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, always seems to be present in moments of milestones; born in 1960, the year Nigeria gained independence and sworn in as a democratically-elected governor on May 29, his birthdate. Beyond relishing clocking 60 years and marking first year in office, Abiodun is considered as one of the most pragmatic and result-oriented governors in Nigeria writes Bayo Akinloye
“Today, by the grace of God Almighty, and the goodwill of the people of Ogun State, and others too numerous to mention, we stand on the threshold of a new dawn and a new beginning,” in short-sleeved buba, a floral agbada with a cap to match, the then-newly sworn in Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State had announced on May 29, 2019, delivering his inauguration speech at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta.
On Friday, Abiodun would have spent exactly one year in office. It is a milestone.
Add to that is the indelible mark of double blessings, double celebrations and a moment only him can lay claim to in Nigeria. The Ogun State governor is a ‘born democrat,’ long before democracy returned to Nigeria on May 29, 1999. He was born May 29, 1960. Not many Nigerian politicians are in his league.
Debonair in style, egalitarian in outlook and democratic in disposition, Governor Abiodun is regarded as a man of immense capacity to lead and inspire. He is considered as a man committed to open governance, transparency, and accountability. He has always sought to serve the public good.
May 29, 2020 will be a diamond jubilee for the avant-garde but down-to-earth Ogun governor. It will also mark a remarkable year in the office. As an individual, Abiodun believes in the unity of purpose; in the amalgam of ideas and collective execution. To him, no one claps with one hand.
The former chief executive of various companies (Crestar Hydrocarbons Limited, OMS-Heyden Exploration and Production Limited, Heyden Petroleum Limited, Alarmnet and Innovative Ventures Limited, and First Power Limited), before assumption of office as the governor of Ogun State, served as a member of various presidential committees (Presidential Think Tank set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001). He was appointed as the chairman of the Oil and Gas Committee of Ogun State in 2009 and served as the chairman of Depot and Petroleum Product Marketers Association (DAPPMA) from 2012 to 2019. In 2014, Prince Abiodun was honoured by President Goodluck Jonathan with the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR).
Yet, there is more to his life than personal achievements.
Provided with the mandate to serve Ogun State, Abiodun assured the people that his oaths of allegiance and office were a tripartite covenant “between me and God, on one part, to serve Him and reciprocate His faithfulness through the journey so far by being a tool to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of Ogun State people, regardless of creed, gender, and political affiliation. On the other part, it is also a covenant with the good people of Ogun State.”
Has he lived up to that?
For several years, water supply in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, and its environs was a mirage. The Ogun State Water Corporation in Arakanga was moribund though it had the capacity to pump 103.68 million litres per day. Today, the residents enjoy a regular supply of water.
Regarding road construction and rehabilitation, Abiodun’s administration has brought a new lease of life to governance. Rural and township roads in the state were dirt roads prompting the governor to establish the Ogun State Public Works Agency.
“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,” he had pointed out.
His administration went further by asking residents in the state to select roads that should attract “immediate attention” in each of the 236 wards across Ogun. The roads are receiving an immediate intervention, in addition to the state government’s identified projects that will be spread across Ogun’s three senatorial districts.
Besides the road construction and rehabilitation, Abiodun’s government had also begun the re-designing and channelization of drainage in different parts of the state. For example, the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road, previously in a state of disrepair is taking a new shape.
“One of our promises was to provide infrastructure in all parts of our state,” Abiodun said. “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 is expected to bring relief to commuters, save Nigerians valuable time in traffic, and serve as a stimulus to the socio-economic growth of Ogun State.
Road networks from to Otta, Ifo, Abeokuta, Sagamu, and Ijebu-Ode are being worked on.
In September 2019, the Oko-owo Dapo, an empowerment initiative to provide funds to women involved in SMEs across the state was established by his administration in a bid to enhance trade as well as micro, small and medium scale enterprises with at least 2,000 women (as of December 2019) benefitting in the first phase of an initiative designed to reach at 100,000 women in the first year of the Abiodun administration.
In partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Anchor Borrowers Scheme is on course to produce Ogun agricpreneurs. A total of 10,000 youths (harvested from the Ogun Job Portal) and allocated a hectare of land each, with the documents attached to the lands, have begun yield good results. Stage two of the plan will engage 40,000 individuals and in the next two years, about 200,000 agricpreneurs would have been created. Providing food for people through a project that attracts a zero-digit interest rate.
Similarly, he created the Ogun Job Portal linking the state’s unemployed youths with matching job opportunities in the labour market. The Ogun State governor’s determination to create jobs in the state was illustrated by the appointment of Olalekan Olude, an award-winning entrepreneur and co-founder of Jobberman Limited, a leading job site in sub-Saharan Africa and founding partner of the African Talents Company in South Africa.
Within three weeks, the portal recorded over 120,000 names. Businesses operating in the state post vacancies on the portal, and a local content law is afoot that will stipulate that a certain minimum of companies’ staff must be Ogun State indigenes.
Under one year, the governor has continued to make hard work seem easy. As a complement to stimulating employment in the state, the governor also created the Ogun Tech Hub and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (Stem) Centre, located along Kobape Road, Abeokuta Expressway. With a sprawling tableau of ICT experts, trainees, and gadgets, the hub was conceptualized to make Ogun “the one-stop-shop for technological innovations across Africa where start-up companies will conveniently be set up.”
The technology hubs across the state have confirmed the premium position of the state in the digital economy. In fact, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy rated Ogun as the Best State in ICT Penetration and Adoption.
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 and is fitted with necessary gadgets, wi-fi facilities and training programmes required to make learning and teaching easier for researchers and staff of the university.
In the area of education, the government has embarked on the rehabilitation of 236 schools, one school per ward, across the state. Just under one year, the governor approved the 2016 and 2017 promotion of over 10,000 teaching and non-teaching staff in public schools, resolved the MAPOLY crisis and ensured its re-accreditation; implemented the recommendations of the visitation panel on the Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), including the appointment of a governing council, and establishment of a Government Delivery Unit for Education, among others.
In the same institution, internal roads are being reconstructed among other amenities. Governor Abiodun has made free education mandatory for pupils in primary and secondary schools and stopped the N3,700 levied on students. In a related development, the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, OOUTH, Sagamu, has also undergone rehabilitation with the OOUTH housing the Disease Surveillance Notification Centres (DSNC).
Another area of focus of the Abiodun administration is security. He did not waste time signing into law the State Security Trust Fund Bill and procured 100 patrol vehicles and 200 motorcycles for law enforcement agents in a bid to make reduce crime rates in Ogun. He had also signed into law the creation of the Western Nigeria Security outfit, Operation Amotekun.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic resulting in the closure of schools in the state, the Abiodun administration has launched ‘Ogundigiclasses.’
Announcing the launch on his official Twitter handle, @dabiodunMFR, the saif: “I have directed that effective from today March 24, 2020, the Ogun State Television, OGTV commence transmission of digital classes for primary and secondary school levels, to compensate for time lost due to the restriction order our Government placed on schools across the State.”
The ‘Ogun DigiClass,’ will be coordinated by the State Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, with experienced educators handling the topics and classes will between 9 am and 11 am; and between 1 pm and 2 pm.
The Abiodun administration is focused on financial transparency, accountability, due process, efficiency, and cost management, leading it to carry out staff biometrics and payroll audit; implement treasury management solution for single view and efficiency in treasury and payment processing as well as financial sustainability assessment.
It is Governor Abiodun’s resolve not to waver in his ‘Building our Future Together Agenda,’ and one year into his administration, many have concluded the story is so far, so good.