Dapo Abiodun: The Man Who Sees Tomorrow

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Dapo-Abiodun

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State is no Nostradamus. But like the late French mystic, he has the gift of prescience and pragmatism. Add to that is a single-minded commitment to seeing through whatever he envisions especially as they concern his ‘Building Our Future Together’ agenda. It is why he is setting the pace in governance in the state. At the tripartite Virtual Town Hall Meetings held on the 2021-2023 MTEF and 2021 Budget last week, Governor Abiodun told stakeholders from the three senatorial districts in the state that his administration would in the coming year rely more on the state’s Internally Generated Revenue as its primary source of financing its budget before any other source; ensure even development of the entire state and complete all ongoing projects while highlighting his administration’s achievements in different sectors, writes Lanre Alfred

The chrysalis doesn’t ooze out the adult butterfly in a day. It takes a specific time. This is the same for several things in the world. That is why the avowed commitment made by Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State that starting from next year, his administration would rely more on the state’s Internally Generated Revenue as its primary source of financing its budget before any other source, is a plan that those conversant with his modus operandi know that he will achieve.

“Despite the steep declines in revenues from the Federation Account, we shall rely more on our internally generated revenue from Ogun State Internal Revenue Service, (OGIRS) and other revenue sources. In this regard, we have strengthened the OGIRS, including the recent appointment of a seasoned professional as the chairman.

“Whilst being mindful of the need to avoid unnecessary tax burden on our citizens, we appeal to them to continue to support us by discharging their civic duties in our joint task of building the state of our future together, we shall continue to give utmost priority to capital project investments in education, health, and infrastructure sectors,” the governor said at the kick-off of the tripartite virtual consultative meeting with the representatives of the people of Ogun East Senatorial District in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and 2021 budget.

Governor Abiodun assured that his administration would be proactive in the coming year by latching on to this year’s experience to improve on service delivery, revenue drive and public-private partnership. He urged the people to continue to support his administration by discharging their civic duties while promising that they would continue to sustain the payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities within limited resources and also continue to effect the downward review of overhead expenses at reasonable percentage against the revenue generation prospects of Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the state. The governor further noted that the recent payment of the new minimum wage was in line with the agreement reached with labour while urging the labour unions in the state to be considerate in their demands at a time the government was also struggling with finances.

Due to the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to the economy of the state, Governor Abiodun announced that the current year’s budget was reviewed downward from N450bn to N280bn in consonance with prevailing economic realities. However, to ameliorate the impact on MSMEs, the governor revealed that various reliefs were given to business owners as part of palliative measures to assist them to cope with the economic slide and ensure business continuity.

“These relief packages include a 6-month extension of the 2019 income tax returns deadline for self-employed residents from March 31, 2020, to September 30, 2020. We also granted an 8-month extension of filing of 2019 annual PAYE returns by PAYE operators/tax agents from January 31, 2020, to September 30, as well as a complete waiver of interest and penalty for late filing for the extension period,” the governor explained.

He said that the meetings were auspicious because they underscored his administration’s commitment to the wholesome development of the entire state saying that this was evidenced by the completion or conversion of projects inherited uncompleted or socio-economically viable, regardless of location. One of such conversions, the governor highlighted, is the hitherto abandoned Model School at Kobape Road into the Ogun Tech Hub, which has been supporting young innovators.

He listed some of the roads constructed by his administration in Ogun East Senatorial District to include Awa-Iloaporu-Ibadan Express Road, Hospital Road, Sagamu, Bright Fashion Baruwa Street, Sagamu, Ijebu Ode-Epe, Sagamu-Ore Interchange Flyover in Ijebu-Ode-Odogbolu LG, Molipa -Fusigboye -Ojofa Street, among others, adding that hospitals, especially primary healthcare centres, schools and other infrastructure projects were also given due attention.

During the meeting of the Ogun Central Senatorial District, the governor declared that as the seat of government, Ogun Central, and in particular Abeokuta, deserves due attention and had correspondingly witnessed numerous infrastructural development projects including Panseke-Adigbe Road; Obantoko Road Phase I, Phase II America Junction, Phase III; Lafenwa-Rounda Road; Abeokuta-Sagamu Interchange Expressway; OGTV-Ajebo-Kajola Road; and Kuto Bridge service lanes.

“Affordable housing has also been provided for different levels of the state economy through the ongoing schemes in Ogun Central in particular: Prince Court, Kemta, Idi-Aba (130-Unit Phase I, 300-Unit Phase II); 51-Unit King’s Court Estate; 300-unit GRA Settlement; 23-Unit Laderin Estate Civil Servant Scheme; among others.

“Other vital development programmes domiciled in Ogun Central for the benefit of the people such as the rehabilitation of 37 schools and 12 primary health centres; Primary Health Centres (2 per LGA), location of many agriculture programmes in Odeda; and initiation of the PPP model to ensure uninterruptible power supply to Abeokuta and its environs, altogether show that the senatorial district remains significant in our development programme,” said the governor.

To the stakeholders that participated in the Ogun West meeting, Governor Abiodun assured them that the constituency remains key to the development of Ogun State as it hosts one of the busiest land borders into the international West African corridor and is an industrial hub. According to Governor Abiodun, “We understand that infrastructure is a key part of development, hence our sustained investment in the sector. Even as we have completed the joint 3.92km Raypower and Ikola/Navy-Osi Ota roads in Ogun West, we are currently reconstructing and rehabilitating others including Owode-Ilaro, Ota-Owode Idiroko, Sango-Joju, Imeko Afon-Agbede Iwoye, Afa Bridge-Ipokia, Igbesa-Ejila roads.

“We have also intensified efforts on having the Atan-Agbara-Lusada and Lagos-Abeokuta roads, which are federal roads, ceded to us for full reconstruction. Not focusing on roads alone, we will be replicating our affordable housing scheme in Ota and Ilaro, with 500 and 250 housing units respectively, since the pilot phase in Kemta has been successful.”
The governor reiterated that the town hall meeting was a symbolic approach of inclusiveness, fairness, justice, equity and respect for the rule of law for which the government policies are known and that it would cross-fertilize ideas for the preparation of a more viable Year 2021 Budget that would ensure individual prosperity and an improved economy of the state.

Governor Abiodun, therefore, called on the people to contribute and take maximum advantage of the platform to express their views, assuring that their comments, recommendations, proposals, feedback would be adequately and appropriately considered for the preparation of the Year 2021 budget.

The Commissioner for Finance and Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Mr. Dapo Okubadejo, described this year as the most challenging on the economy of the state, noting that government would look inward for quick recovery of all sectors. Likewise, the chairman, Governor’s Elders Advisory Council, Chief Oluneye Okuboyejo while calling on the state government to help farmers in the Ogun East Senatorial district on issues relating to land ownership and encroachment, said that the issues had made it difficult for farmers in the area to think of expanding their farms. “The government is doing well in the area of agriculture, the problem of land ownership for agriculture is a key issue, in Eriwe and all the farms we have around the local government, we have problems of land ownership because our farmers want to expand, even where we exist, encroachment is not helping the stakeholders at all, help us to solve them,” he said.

The elder statesman commended the state government on efforts to improve public infrastructure, education, particularly in the areas of ICT and Youth Empowerment and appealed for more emphasis on Government Reservation Areas (GRA). “I want to commend the government for touching not only the rural areas but the cities that have been neglected for over eight years. In (the) year 2021, a little emphasis should continue to be placed on infrastructure. This time around, I want to plead that in looking at infrastructure, concentration should not just be given to city roads, rural roads, but the reservation areas, I mean the government reservation areas(GRA’s), the road networks in some of these places, particularly the ones that I know, are not too good,” he said.

The chairperson, Ogun State Chapter of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Mrs. Olude Oluwakemi and her counterpart in the Women Support and Care Initiative, Dr. (Mrs.) Omolara Quadri called on the state government to give more emphasis to women empowerment in the state by building their capacity.
Some of the participants including youth and women groups, religious leaders, elder statesmen and women and labour leaders, called for the creation of more jobs, execution of more capital projects and empowerment of the youth and women in the coming fiscal year.