Dapo Abiodun: A Profile in Excellence
Watchers of political developments in the South-West geopolitical zone would no doubt have noticed the calm and tranquility in Ogun State in recent times. Although The Gateway State, contiguous to Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, is not without security challenges, it is one of Nigeria’s safest states at the moment, a thriving destination for business and tourism in spite of the global ravages occasioned by Covid-19. This has not been by accident but by deliberate design. An inkling of what to expect under an Abiodun administration was in fact provided soon after Prince Dapo Abiodun, the state governor, assumed office on May 29, 2019. A gang of kidnappers had seized five members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) who were on their way to a minister’s conference at the headquarters of the church at Ogbere-Sagamu section of the Benin-Lagos expressway. Because of past developments, there was apprehension across the country regarding the safety of the victims. But Governor Abiodun, who was at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the time, did not despair. He quickly cut short his trip and returned home. On getting back to Abeokuta, he requested for helicopters from the Presidency and was quickly obliged. All of the hostages were rescued unhurt, to roaring national applause for the Ogun helmsman and the police anti-kidnapping unit.
By immediately equipping the state police command with communications equipment, 200 motorbikes and a hundred Hilux patrol vehicles on assumption of office, the Iperu-born prince gave notice of his intent to seek peace and pursue it, and actualize happiness for the Ogun populace. But the intrigues of politics have a way of truncating even the best security arrangements in any clime, and this is why Governor Abiodun’s determination to forge a common Ogun nexus beyond party lines deserves applause. Apprised of the fact that the political environment must be conducive for peace to thrive, he has strived to be governor of all, to listen to the objections of naysayers and to plug perceived loopholes. In Ogun, there is no more the accustomed political rancour accompanied by violence and disruptions to the socioeconomic order.
As noted by many analysts, Governor Abiodun has shunned vindictiveness and rabble rousing in office. He has not been on record raining abuses at anyone, apparently because he subscribes to the Yoruba concept of moral and intellectual maturity and behavioural dignity, encapsulated in the term Omoluabi. An Omoluabi is not a perfect human—there is no such entity—he or she is an individual who has internalized the core values of the race and fully embraced its culture, including the values and ethos of respect for the community, departure from social vices, and religious vitality. As governor, Abiodun has been ready to forgive repentant instigators and fake news peddlers in spite of the huge backlash he received from their action, a case in point being the young lady who claimed he supplied spoilt beans to residents as Covid-19 palliatives. He regularized the appointments and promotions made without due process by his predecessor at the eleventh hour, thinking of the pains the families of those affected would suffer if he sent them packing. That surely makes for peace and tranquility. Even when within the Ogun All Progressives Congress (APC) disputes arose and the faction loyal to him was given legal imprimatur, he refused to throw his weight around, firmly believing that he would be judged based on his fidelity or otherwise to his covenant with the Ogun people.
In a way, though, the foregoing is hardly surprising. If the fact that many gave him no chance when he announced his ultimately victorious run, in part because of past failures, did not make him falter or dither, neither would the challenges that come with being in office. Whether as a governorship aspirant or candidate, Abiodun ran against the establishment. The conspiracies were thick and so was the social media onslaught unleashed to hijack the party structure from him after he had won election. But he remained focused on his campaign promises, his covenant with the people. After all, as our elders say, you pay attention to the person with whom you are trading in a market, not the noise of the market.
To all intents and purposes, Prince Abiodun cherishes this covenant and is following it to the letter. Without frills or fuse, he has succeeded in so short a time in fostering stability within the polity. Ogun State, or more appropriately its politics, is no longer boiling: Prince Abiodun’s presence has brought calm. He has held and continues to hold meetings with individuals of diverse political backgrounds, intent not on silencing the political opposition but on restoring bipartisan trust in governance. The message is clear: There must be peace and tranquility. Society can only develop under a peaceful atmosphere. And the rewards have come in multiple folds: from education to health, education, urban renewal, housing and agriculture, the Abiodun administration has reached great milestones in record time.
His ISEYA mantra involving infrastructure, social welfare and wellbeing, youth empowerment, culture and religion, is quite apt. In just a year, he completed building over 50 roads. The roads included the Epe-Ijebu Ode and Sagamu-Abeokuta federal roads, Itoikin-Ibefun-Ijebu Ode, Iperu-Ilisan, Sango-Ojodu Abiodun, Ilaro-Owode, Abeokuta-Sango-Ota-Lagos, Osi-Ota-Awolowo-Navy-Kola and Balogun Kuku in Ijebu Ode, Opako Bridge in Adigbe, Abeokuta and Akute-Ajuwon-Alagbole road. The creation of Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) facilitated massive construction, rehabilitation and maintenance projects while creating job opportunities. The administration saw to infrastructure development in the Agbara-Atan-Ota, Ewekoro-Ifo and Sagamu-Ogijo industrial hubs, set up Tech Hubs for the state’s youths to harness the gains of ICT, began building a school per ward up to model standard across the state, saw to the promotion of teachers and distributed textbooks and teaching materials to public schools in the all local government areas while installing education management information system equipment to aid data collection and analysis. It also resolved the lingering crises in the state’s higher institutions.
It equipped public hospitals with state-of-the-art technology amid massive recruitment of various categories of health workers, set up Covid-19 testing and treatment centres and doubled the agreed allowances of health workers. It revived the Arakanga water treatment plant to supply potable water to Abeokuta and its environs. It undertook massive recruitment of youths into the Ogun State Environmental Protection Agency (OGEPA), and organized trainings for artisans in plumbing, electrical and building works are under the direct labour initiative of the state ministry of housing.
In agriculture, the Abiodun government is planning to build an agro-allied airport to aid the development of the state as a destination of choice for agriculture in Nigeria. Last year, among other feats, it empowered 54 pilot youths who had successfully completed three cycles of broiler production with each making profit of N150.000 per cycle, linked 4,462 participants to inputs and credit to the tune of N700 million in the cassava value chain, and 1,065 participants to inputs and credit to the tune of N300 million in the rice value chain through the CBN/Ogun State Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP). It also linked 800 participants to inputs and credit to the tune of N360 million under the Ogun State Government/Federal Government/IFAD Assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) took things to another level entirely, while 394 maize farmers, 54 rice farmers and 21 poultry farmers benefitted from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) through the CBN. The list is endless.
From the foregoing, it is clear that Prince Abiodun is determined to take Ogun State to the next level through vision, disciplined conduct, and single-minded pursuit of the common good. His is, definitely, a profile in excellence.
–––Akinmade sent this piece from C27, City of David Estate, Gwarimpa, Abuja.