This address was selivered by the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, at the welcome ceremony of the official visit to Ogun State by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 13, 2022.
Mr. President, I most heartily welcome you on behalf of the Government and good people of Ogun State to your second home, the Gateway State. We are most delighted that you are here after the postponement of the initial visit scheduled for December, 2021. Your visit to Ogun State today is not just a routine official visit of a sitting President to a State. It is much more. It is a honour done to the good people of the Gateway State. This is your first visit since my assumption of office. And we look forward to many of such. The rousing welcome for Your Excellency and the entourage by our people is an expression of our love for you.
A little over a year ago, I was with Your Excellency to share some success stories of the stewardship of our first year in office. This was presented in a Compendium. COVID-19 protocols did not allow for gatherings such as formal commissioning of projects. Your Excellency, you are here on our invitation to see our modest contributions to the continued development of our dear State in line with our “Building our Future Together” Agenda. We thank you for accepting to come.
Let me publicly acknowledge and also thank Mr. President for the support and goodwill we have continued to enjoy in Ogun State even before we were sworn into office. All the projects and programmes of our Administration in Ogun State are deliberate and guided by our vision. The vision is to give Ogun State a focused and qualitative governance and create an enabling environment for a Public Private Sector Partnership to thrive. We believe this is fundamental to the socio-economic development of the State and individual prosperity of our people.
The choice of the five projects that we are commissioning today from our many landmark projects was a daunting task. These are just a few of our achievements. We have so much more to showcase. These selected few that Your Excellency will commission are however symbolic of the various types of projects across all sectors of our dear State’s economy. And, they are spread all through the THREE Senatorial Districts. Mr. President, I have the honour to report that our Administration in Ogun State has continued to fulfil all its promises to the people within the available means.
It is noteworthy that all our projects have the inputs and are informed by the needs of the people as expressed by them at different engagement fora that we provide. This is because we anchor our “Building our Future Together” Agenda on inclusiveness, equity, fairness, transparency, accountability, justice, and obedience to the rule of law. Under our FIVE Development Pillars with the acronym I.S.E.Y.A; that is I – for Infrastructure, S – for Social Welfare and Wellbeing, E – for Education, Y – for Youth Empowerment, A for Agriculture and Food Security, we based our choices on what the people say they want and we get their buy-in for implementation.
Mr. President, may I now provide a panoramic view of the five projects that have been scheduled for commissioning today. The Gateway City Gate where we are now, for instance, is an iconic monument that not only beautifies the environment, but a reflection of the new approach to governance in the State. It symbolizes the convergence, harmony, and unity amongst all the groups and sections of the State. It is not just a physical Intersection of the three Senatorial Districts; it is a symbol of the togetherness of our people and the legendary warmth and hospitality to our visitors and guests.
The Ijebu-Ode-Epe Road, a Federal Road, which Your Excellency commissioned earlier, is another strategic arterial road that links the Lekki / Epe corridor of Lagos State to the eastern corridor of Ogun State at Ijebu- Ode. With this road, socio-economic activities in the South East and South South zones of our country will receive a boost through the linkage of the road to Sagamu-Benin Expressway for easier access by motorists to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest economy.
In the same vein, the Sagamu Interchange-Abeokuta Road is 42km in length and is the main arterial road that leads to our Capital City. It is a dual carriageway with streetlights, median and other road furniture. This road, though a federal road, was redesigned and reconstructed to address the daily challenges being experienced by commuters, and to make commuting between the State Capital and other parts of the State and, indeed, the rest of the country a safe, secure and pleasant experience. The two roads are very significant and critical to the socio-economic development of not only Ogun State but the Nation at large.
Mr. President, two of our many housing projects have been completed and ready for you to commission. Our affordable Housing Estate at Kobape in Abeokuta comprises of 526 units of 2 and 3-bedroom bungalows. The King’s Court at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta is a middle/high income Housing Estate and has 31 of its 85 units in the first phase fully completed. The remaining 54 units are at various stages of completion.
Furthermore, several similar housing projects are under construction in different parts of the State. Our aggressive housing programme is aimed at delivering 2,500 units of houses by the end of our first term. So far, we have achieved over 60% of the target within 30 months and are confident that we will deliver on this commitment, as we have done in all our programmes.
Your Excellency, we will like to inform you that all these projects are interrelated. These are not just projects – they are also part of our Agenda for development and have been deliberately conceived and implemented to also achieve employment generation; poverty alleviation and local capacity development, as most of the people working on these projects are local artisans, technicians and tradesmen and women.
We have many more projects that could have been scheduled for commissioning today – but for time constraint. Yet, there are many others at different stages of completion. These include the first phase of the Ogun State International Agro Cargo Airport at Ilishan, and Atan-LUSADA-Agbara expressway which leads to Agbara Industrial Estate, the industrial nerve center of not just our State, but also Nigeria and indeed, the entire ECOWAS Sub-region. It is therefore our hope that Your Excellency will graciously grant our request to return and commission more projects when they are completed and ready for commissioning later in the year.
Beyond these physical projects, we have also embarked on several fiscal and policy reforms to enable the effectiveness and efficiency of Government Some of these are the reinvigoration of the Security Trust Fund; establishment of Public-Private Partnership Office; launch of Ogun Digital Economy Infrastructure Projects; and Ogun State Land Revenue and Management Systems (OLARMS). Others include establishment of Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency. The Business Environment councilwhich provides a truly one-stop-shop for Big Investors; and business bottlenecks in dealing with Government establishment of Ogun State Enterprise Development Agency to strengthen the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and boost their capacities; and, All these have led to an increased IGR of about 95B in 2021 .
We have continued to improve on our Ease-of-Doing-Business (EoD). Ogun State now ranks 4th on the scale of Ease-of-Doing-Business in Nigeria. We will continue to improve on that, until we become number one! We appreciate that as existing businesses continue to thrive, more investments must also be attracted and start-ups be encouraged. Today, I am pleased to report that Ogun State is ranked the no 1 investment destination of choice, not only in Nigeria but in the entire West-African sub region. We will continue to make Ogun State a place to “live, work and play”.
Your Excellency, that is the Ogun State of our dream. And, there are testimonials that we are on the right part. In the last 30 months, we have restored people’s trust and confidence in their government. We will continue to rekindle the hope of the people; and will NEVER take their mandate for granted.
Mr. President, I wish to thank you for the post-humous honour and recognition done to our illustrious son, the martyr of democracy, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, GCFR, by acknowledging his victory in the 1993 presidential polls and by conferring on him, the highest National Award as the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR). You have not only honoured the man, but you also honoured the entire people of Ogun State. With this singular act, you have indeed strengthened the democratic ethos and principles and given practical demonstration to the line in our National anthem that “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”
On behalf of the people of Ogun State, I also thank Your Excellency for the tremendous support the federal government gave to Ogun State in our fight against COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we appreciate the choice of our State to pioneer the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign. We are pleased to note that the Federal Ministry of Health has rated us the leading State in achieving mass vaccination in the country. In the same breadth, the relative peace and security we enjoy in Ogun State is a direct outcome of the support of Mr. President for our various initiatives to ensure security of lives and property. On our part, we will continue to support and collaborate with all the security agencies in our State, both Federal and State owned.
Mr. President, i want to thank you for facilitating that the central bank provides us support particularly as we embraced and domesticated your eat what you grow and grow what you eat policy in agriculture. To date we have through anchor borrowers scheme, we have turned about 30,000 young men and women into Agripreneurs. Your Excellency, I wish to specially thank you for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan new standard railway gauge. The longest part of the rail-line is in Ogun State with five stations, the most by any State. We also thank Mr. President for the ongoing reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. The longest stretch of that road is also in Ogun State and is due for completion this year. These projects are particularly strategic to the economic development of not only Ogun State but the entire Nation. The railway and the improved Lagos-Ibadan Expressway have brought tremendous increase in economic activities in our dear State and with other States.
In the same vein, we appreciate your approval to Aliko Dangote for the reconstruction of Sagamu-Interchange-Papalanto-Ilaro Road through the Federal Government’s tax credit scheme. Let me also appeal that the same tax credit scheme be extended to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) for the reconstruction of Sagamu-Ogijo-Ikorodu Expressway. This road not only leads to one of the largest depots of NNPC at Mosinmi, Sagamu, it is also an alternative road to the ever-busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
We also look forward to federal government’s approval of similar creative funding arrangements for the Otta-Idiroko Road and other federal roads traversing our dear State. We passionately appeal to Your Excellency to graciously direct relevant federal government agencies to expedite action towards prompt rehabilitation and completion of these roads. This will improve the welfare and wellbeing of our people.
The number of federal roads in Ogun and their strategic significance to the socio-economic development of the country cannot be over-emphasised. Your Excellency it is noteworthy that Ogun State has more Federal roads than any other State in the Country. Therefore, we are passionately requesting again that Ogun State be accorded a Special Status for Federal Government Infrastructural Funding, especially on roads.
Mr. President, permit me to thank my brother Governors,National Assembly members, Honourable Ministers, my friends from the private sector and other eminent and distinguished dignitaries for joining us to welcome you. Many of them have to inconvenient themselves to be here today. I also thank the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, for the tremendous support we have enjoyed from his Ministry. Our appreciation also goes to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria for the creative funding support and Same appreciation goes to others in the private sector Alhj Aliko Dangote Herbert Wigwe Abdul Samad Rabiu that have been supportive one way or the other in the implementation of our “Building Our Future Together” Agenda.
To the good People of Ogun State, words are inadequate to convey my appreciation for the support, cooperation and prayers that we have enjoyed from you all since the inception of our Administration. I thank our Royal Fathers, religious leaders, community leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), market men and women, the youth, security agencies and the media for your support. Our thanks also go to those non indigenes of our dear State that have made Ogun State their home. As it is our practice since we came on board on May 29, 2019, we will continue to be inclusive and take development to all parts of our dear State. We do not promise to do everything, but we will do everything that we promise.
Once again, I thank Your Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for honouring our invitation and identifying with us. I have no doubt that Your Excellency and the entourage will have an exciting and enriching experience in our State, even as I wish you all safe trips back. Before I end this address, let me state that there is no better place to formally welcome Mr. President than this Gateway City Gate. This monument represents our unity as a people and is the centre-point of our State.
Mr. President, at this point, it is my honour and privilege to present, on behalf of the Government and People of Ogun State, the Key to the Gateway City Gate. This formalises your long time honourary indigeneship of Ogun State. You are no longer a visitor. Mr. President, welcome home.
I thank you all for listening. God bless Ogun State, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Igbega Ipinle Ogun, Ajose Gbogbo Wa Ni.