‘BUILDING OUR FUTURE TOGETHER’
Femi Ogbonnikan writes that the Ogun State government has made significant strides in infrastructure development
Development is work in progress. It is because socio-economic growth is a continuous process and an unfolding endeavour that never ends until it is cut short by death, which means that every step in the journey to a higher level of comfort and greatness is as important and worthy as any other step. In so far as the development of infrastructure is concerned, Ogun State has never had it so good.
Of course, performance assessment depends on the eyes with which individual views the development we see happening in the state under the present administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun. The fact that we see a significant transformation of the infrastructure landscape in the three senatorial districts in the state today doesn’t mean it is significant or even noticeable to some other people because of the differences in our perception, and judgment. We know some cynics will not care a hoot about the current economic reality of our time. Many perfectionists, cynics or pessimists too don’t realise the limitation of resources available at the disposal of the government at this time of the global economic meltdown.
Regardless of individual opinion, bias and prejudice, there is no doubt that the governor has raised the threshold of good governance in the state. And it can only get better.
As can be rightly inferred from the governor’s address during the recent commissioning of some projects, it is no longer an end to be celebrated but rather just another stepping stone on the way to bigger and better things. You could see happiness and joy on the faces of Remo people who were present at the commissioning of 4km Oba Erinwole road which had become almost impassable before the coming of the present administration. Important as the road is to the economic well-being of the people of Sagamu, Ogijo, and even Ikorodu in Lagos State, it was neglected for political pettiness. The Akarigbo and Paramount Ruler of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, in his keynote address at the occasion, gave testimony that the road before the reconstruction was one of the most deplorable roads in the state.
The story is the same for the roads traversing Ilaro to Ilara, Ajebo to Ajenbadele, Odeda to Odogbolu, Iwopin to Iwoye, Iperu to Ipokia, Sango- Ota to Sagamu, Ijebu- Ode to Ijoko, Igbesa to Igbogila.
It is, therefore, gratifying to note that Governor Abiodun has set the tone for a paradigm shift in governance, believing that people are the ultimate object of development. It was a promise kept when traditional rulers, state functionaries, party faithful, and other critical stakeholders converged on Sagamu, November 21, 2022 to commission Oba Erinwole road in fulfillment of the governor’s electioneering promise to prioritize the development of road infrastructure throughout the length and breadth of the state.
The epoch-making event followed the successful completion and commissioning of Arepo Journalist Estate Road, Igan/Ishamurin/ Odo-Shikiti Road (Ago-Iwoye), Oke-Ola Road in Imeko, among others. Indeed, this year has been an all-around year of commissioning and celebration across all parts of the state.
And it is just the beginning. What is more? From now till May 29, 2023, when the curtain draws on the first tenure of the administration, there can be no dull moment again as the governor has given an assurance that there will be commissioning of, at least, one road project per week across all the three senatorial districts of the state.
That appears to be a tall ambition, right? Yes, it is. But it is doable with the commitment of focused leadership. To meet its aggressive and insatiable quest for infrastructural transformation, the administration has already evolved alternative financing options such as Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), the establishment of an Infrastructure Development Bond, and other initiatives to aid the delivery of the administration’s agenda for development.
With the initiative, over 80 major roads and others (Federal roads inclusive) totalling 400km have been constructed, reconstructed or rehabilitated across the State within the three and a half years of the administration.
Hear from the horse’s mouth: “We have spent the last three and half years, rekindling the hope and trust of our people in their Government. We have prioritised the delivery of services and remained focused and committed to the implementation of our ‘Building our Future Together’ Agenda. We remain a promise-keeping administration!
“This administration in three years and six months has done more in terms of kilometres of roads than previous administrations in the State. These road projects include amongst others: Ilaro – Owode Road, Ijebu-Ode-Mojoda-Epe Road, Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu Interchange Road, Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road, Panseke-Adigbe-Opako Road, Ilishan-Ago-Iwoye Road, etc.
“Let me emphasise that we are equal to the task of commissioning at least one project per week until we end our first term because we are focused, deliberate, and determined to make Ogun a champion sub-national that will be an envy of others in terms of service delivery.
“To date, over 80 major roads and others (Federal roads inclusive) totalling 400km have been constructed, reconstructed, or rehabilitated across the State. This administration in three years and six months has done more in terms of kilometres of roads than previous administrations in the State.”
This is by no means a rare feat in our present economic situation occasioned by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, dwindling federal revenue arising from crude oil theft, the challenge of insecurity, and the resultant decline in the Gross Domestic Product. One significant thing here is that these roads were chosen by the people themselves as their priority projects in line with the bottom-top development strategy of the present administration.
Among other economic benefits, the constructed Oba Erinwole road will not only open access to Sagamu-Ogijo Industrial zone of the State, but it will also attract new businesses which in turn will boost the economic base of small and medium enterprises of Sagamu and its environs.
Other than that, the infrastructure drive of the present administration will continue to have a multiplier effect on the Internally Generate Revenue (IGR) which can further be used to finance other infrastructure projects in other parts of the State. It is also a veritable tool for urbanization, industrialization, and economic growth of the state. All of these have self-reinforcing benefits which can crystalize into sustainable growth and development of the state’s economy.
More fundamentally, it creates enabling environment for a public-private sector partnership which is a way of ensuring sustainable economic development and individual prosperity for the people of the state.
Besides, work will soon commence on other roads that have similar economic importance. The list of roads already penciled down for immediate attention include the hospital road in Ogijo and the bright fashion road. In addition to these, the administration is also looking forward to collaborating with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd to finish the remaining portion of the road linking the state with Lagos, complete Otta-Idiroko International route as well as Ilaro – Papalanto-Sagamu Interchange routes.
As part of the inclusive policy of the administration, an arrangement has also been made to deploy graders and other road equipment to local government areas across the state to rehabilitate roads at the grassroots.
Beyond the road infrastructure, preparation is equally at top gear to commission the long-awaited International Agro Cargo Airport to complement and nurture the development of the Ogun State Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) initiative to fruition. The whole essence of this is to align the project with the overall objective of ensuring agricultural industrialization, food self-sufficiency as well as job creation. When it becomes operational, it is already projected that the project will provide over 25,000 job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the state.
Realising the importance of human capital development as a veritable engine that drives sustainable industrial and economic growth, a remarkable effort has also been made in addressing the challenges confronting the education sector such as dilapidated classrooms, acute shortage of instructional materials and textbooks, insufficient classrooms and furniture for both students and their teachers, lack of regular training for teachers, lack of incentives and motivation, inadequate supervision and monitoring, poor funding and remuneration of the workforce, among others.
To frontally deal with these challenges, an arrangement has been concluded by the administration to launch the Ogun State Education Trust Fund and the Education Management Information System that will allow the government to issue Learner Identification Numbers (LIN) for all students which is the first of its kind anywhere in Nigeria. The idea behind the initiative is to guarantee a steady source of funding for the education sector from the primary level to the tertiary institutions.
Last week, he again delivered on another of his promise to turn around the fortune of Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), Omu-Ijebu which had been neglected by the past administrations. This, he did, through the successful implementation of the recommendations of the visitation panel set up by the administration upon assumption of office to suggest ways of restoring the lost glory of the institution. The effort eventually paid off resulting in the unveiling and renaming of the school after the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona. With this unveiling, Tai Solarin College of Education has ceased to exit. In its place, we now have Sikiru Adetona College of Education, Science, and Technology, Omu-Ajose, Odogbolu Local Government, a multi-disciplinary tertiary institution. The re-naming was in recognition of the immeasurable contributions the revered monarch had made to education and community development in the state. While promising to ensure adequate funding for the institution, the governor further disclosed the readiness of his administration to reconstruct the internal roads of the College and the road from Ala passing through Omu. It is to the credit of the administration that the institution was recently awarded the best college of education in Nigeria.
Ogbonnikan writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State