As Nigeria marks her 60th anniversary, Governor Dapo Abiodun, has rededicated himself to the task of bringing Ogun State through its current challenges into its most rewarding and progressive epoch, writes Lanre Alfred
Too often it seems we have a surplus of bluster in our national politics and a deficit of action. But then there’s Ogun governor, Dapo Abiodun. By many quantitative metrics, Governor Abiodun may pass as the most unconventional Nigerian politician who vied for a state gubernatorial office.
He ran the most unconventional of campaigns, a whirlwind of rallies, speeches, energy, all captured live in the moment on the mainstream and social media, with grit, determination, and a message: No longer would mediocrity pervade Ogun State’s government house.
Other messages were resonant through his campaign: no longer would covetous characters dictate the Gateway State’s sovereignty; no longer would decadent elites mortgage the interests of Ogun’s citizenry. Dapo Abiodun resurrected Ogun State’s ancestral/historical pride. The real vision was to form an all inclusive government marking the first time an Ogun State governor would unite seemingly irreconcilable factions in the state on the strength of his charisma, maturity and political sagacity.
In his address to the citizenry on Thursday, October 1, 2020, Nigeria’s independence day, Governor Abiodun assured the people of better days ahead while lamenting his inability to lead the state on a grand celebration due to the sad reality of the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced nations in the world to think and act differently, and which has imposed on Ogun State, the imperative of a low-key celebration.
He said, “Again, today we stand on the thresholds of history as we celebrate Nigeria’s Diamond Anniversary. Indeed, it is an occasion that will afford us the opportunity of a comprehensive appraisal of how well we have fared; review our achievements and re-examine the challenges facing us as a people. This will enable us to come up with improved and more practical approaches towards attaining and nurturing our great Nation’s potentials for sustainable development.”
According to him, while it is being argued in some quarters that Nigeria’s achievements have not matched-up with her potentials, “this cannot be a reason to dismiss or diminish the worth of our freedom.”
He assured that his administration has made it a matter of policy to continue to improve all sectors of Ogun State’s economy.
He said, “We have continued to enact bold reforms in the process and system of governance to boost economic activities. This has helped us to accelerate development in our economic Pillars. This has in turn provided strong foundation for the optimum contribution for our economic Enablers to the continued development of our dear State.
“Our ISEYA acronym has helped us to map out a strategy that ensures a successful implementation of our ‘Building our Future Together’ agenda and continued development of our dear state. Our ISEYA acronym, meaning: I – Infrastructure, S – Social Welfare and Wellbeing, E – Education, Y – Youth Development, and A – Agriculture and Food Security.
On infrastructure, he said that his administration’s approach has been to develop the infrastructure that meets the immediate needs of the citizenry and provide a solid foundation for continued and sustainable development.
“To that extent, we started with our inclusive approach, by asking our community leaders, interest groups and other stakeholders across our 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) to submit a coordinated list of infrastructural needs, in order of preference, in their areas that are key to the successful implementation of the ‘Building our Future Together’ agenda. The list include roads, schools as well as Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs).This exercise has been very rewarding, allowing us to strategically allocate resources,” he said.
Commenting on his administration’s plan to improve the social wellbeing of the state, he said, “We are quite aware that there is a need to provide avenues to ease access to healthcare; empower our people economically; provide affordable shelter in a well-planned environment; and, protect the vulnerable groups, especially the aged, women and the girl-child.”
And to combat educational challenges, he said his administration has evolved a multi-dimensional approach for further development of our educational industry. This, he said, includes the development of infrastructure, capacity building for our teaching and non-teaching corps, resolution of industrial crises, appointment of digitally compliant teachers, motivation of existing corps of teachers with timely promotions and introduction of ICT into the teaching-learning process.
To empower the state’s teeming youth, his administration has leveraged on ICT by launching the Ogun Job Portal in August, 2019, which has been instrumental in allocating the youth to the appropriate sectors where they will be most productive for themselves and the state. Through this database, potential employers are able to post their vacancies on the portal and it acts as a first point of call for employers looking for qualified people to hire.
Governor Abiodun noted that his administration had deliberately chosen agriculture as its major pillar. He said, “The unique position of agriculture in the economy of Ogun State and indeed the glory of the old Western Region cannot be overemphasized as it has always been the mainstay of our economy. We should be able to take advantage of our God-given landmass spanning 16,000 square kilometres that is very fertile for food and cash crop production as well as for new crops with high-value opportunities that can raise farm incomes. And, indeed it has proven to be a wise decision.
“We shall continue to invest in Agriculture so as to tap into its enormous potentials: raw materials for our industry, employment generation, food security, poverty alleviation and wealth creation, among others. The target of our Administration is to produce enough food to attain nutritional self-sufficiency in the short term, and over long term produce enough food for other States in the country and for export.”
Governor Abiodun assured that all of his government’s programmes are inter-related to ensure more prosperity for the people of Ogun State.
Ogun State, like Nigeria, he said, has a lot to be proud and thankful for. He said, “Beneath the history and success of our National Day celebration is the strength and struggle of our forebears and founding fathers. And, in fact, for us in Ogun State, we have every reason to celebrate the independence of our great Nation. The fact remains irrefutable that at every crossroads in the annals of our Nation’s socio-political development, proud ambassadors of Ogun State have been the compasses leading us the right way.”
“It is on record that the first ever military to civilian political transition in Nigeria was mid-wifed by General Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR in 1979; the same Olusegun Obasanjo came to Nigeria’s rescue in 1999 to usher in our present democracy. History will also not forget him as he mid-wifed the first ever successful civilian-to-civilian transition in 2007. We should also not forget the roles of Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR as the leader of the Interim National Government after the impasse of the June 12, 1993 General Elections.
That the election on its own stands as a watershed in Nigeria’s electoral history as a signpost of free and fair elections in Nigeria, and that the winner of the election is another son and icon of Ogun State, the Late Chief MKO Abiola, GCFR, is worth acknowledgement as yet another indicator of Ogun State’s significance as Nigeria’s bedrock of titans, first-class citizens and patriots.
According to Abiodun, the independence anniversary offers yet another opportunity for his administration to reiterate its promise not to renege on its promises, stressing that his government will continue to deploy resources towards ensuring conducive environment Ogun citizenry to discover and nurture their potentials irrespective of their age, gender, status and location.
“Indeed, we are determined to unleash the creative energies of our vibrant, tireless and motivated people: innovators, academics, researchers, people in the public service and the private sector, whether formal or non-formal sector like, artisans, the professional class, captains of industry, politicians, farmers, graduates, parents, students and all Nigerians at home and wherever they may be in the world for continued development of our dear State in particular and the country in general. For us, all our hope lies in the bristling and bewildering diversities which if properly harnessed should provide us with the impetus to excel,” he said.