Gov Abiodun’s 2nd Term and the Tasks Ahead

Gov Abiodun’s 2nd Term and the Tasks Ahead

Femi Ogbonnikan

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State is set for his second term to be inaugurated in a couple of weeks time. As in every other level of government, his current tenure which is steadily running out has been as eventful as it is challenging. Within the last four years of the administration, the world recorded one of the most existential threats in human history-the COVID-19 pandemic.

If Nigeria was lucky to have recorded a relatively low death rate, it wasn’t so much so of the disruptive effect of the pandemic on the economy as the recession struck in two quick successions amidst the global downturn. Ogun State being part of the national economy had its fair share of the sour taste. And now that we have successfully weathered the storm, we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the new horizon. It is, therefore, imperative for us to put the trial behind us and reunite for a renewed hope of a better Nigeria as encapsulated in the agenda of the President-elect-Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

For us in Ogun State in particular, the work ahead of the Abiodun administration to actualise our collective desire to build a prosperous state for ourselves and for our children is hugely enormous and very challenging. There is no need to pretend about it. So, no Superman can do it all alone. It is a collective task that must be accomplished through the joint efforts of all the stakeholders regardless of party affiliations.

As the time to draw the curtain on the present administration is fast approaching, there is already a renewed commitment on the part of Governor Abiodun to bring the dividends of democracy to the doorsteps of every citizen of the state. Of the present governors due to take another oath of office on May 29, Abiodun is one of the most accomplished. The record is there. He made the environment conducive for investment and industrial growth through the reformed ease-of-doing business, people-oriented infrastructure, ranging from roads, schools and affordable housing to healthcare service delivery peace and security.

Under him, the state witnessed the first cargo flight at the International Agro Cargo Airport at Illisan-Remo. When successfully completed possibly before the end of this year, according to projection, it will open a new vista of opportunities for economic and industrial transformation not only for Ogun State but the country at large.

His massive investment drive in affordable housing scheme for the residents as well as investors operating in the state also remains unparalleled. A good testimony to that is the recent Best Award in Housing received by the State at the 2023 Merit Award organised by the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, having defeated Lagos, Edo, Kaduna and Niger States. At the presentation of 2023 Ogun State Budget late last year, Governor Abiodun had boasted to have undertaken several housing projects, numbering 2,500 units in four major zones of the State, including Egba, Ijebu, Yewa and Remo, which he said, was unprecedented in the 47-year-old history of the State. This is no mean feat.

Yet, there are many more to show for the current tenure running out in other critical areas, like human capital development, accessible healthcare service delivery, youth empowerment, agro-allied investment as well as social welfare for the vulnerable segment of society.

Even with all these laudable achievements, Governor Abiodun is not at all taking the renewal of his mandate for granted. He is fully aware of the greater expectation lying ahead of his new administration and has promised to deliver on his electoral promises to the benefit of all and sundry. In unveiling his next line of action, he has reassured of his readiness to work with people from all walks of life, including the opposition to make the state greater than it is today. The existence of opposition is an essential tenet of a multi-party democracy which is critical for good governance when there is constructive engagement. However, it becomes an anathema where the players wittingly or unwittingly resort to disruptive tendencies as a way of ventilating their grievances whether genuine or frivolous.

This is where the governorship candidate of the PDP, Oladipupo Adebutu, and his co-supporters need to do a thorough introspection of their activities since the conduct of the March 18 gubernatorial election in the state. For being discontent with the outcome of the election, we have seen organized protests; we have seen intimidation, we have seen unrestrained vituperations, and even direct bullying of the judiciary.

This is not the right way to go. You cannot build something on nothing. The disruptive tendency is not the right way to grow our democracy. Yes, the Constitution permits aggrieved candidates to approach the court to seek redress and the tribunals have been constituted to look into the various petitions alleging manipulation of the election results. Concerned individuals should be civil enough to allow justice to take its course, instead of resorting to unfounded accusations, peddling lies against the government as well as incisive statements capable of causing disaffection within the populace.

All this is an invitation to chaos. It is a metaphor for anomie. In simple words, anomie defines a lack of ethical standards in an individual or group. It is a situation of absolute disorderliness. No society can thrive under a state of normlessness. And we do not pray to slide into the abyss. 

At this time, Ogun State has a lot to benefit from the incoming administration of the President-elect-Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, if only we will give the governor enough peace of mind and the needed support to be able to take full advantage of the potential mutual synergy that is expected between the state and the power at the centre. Therefore, more than any other time in the past, the new incoming administration of Governor Abiodun needs the trust and confidence of the people in order for him to be able to nurture his developmental agenda to fruition for the good of all.           

Abiodun, making a plea for support in his keynote address at a Special Ramadan Iftar lecture with the theme: “Trust, an Indispensable Tool for National Development” recently held at the Arcade Ground of the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, promised to continue to leverage the trust his administration had built between the citizens, on one hand, and the private sector, on the other hand. 

“Trust, as the Guest Lecturer has shared with us is an indispensable tool for national development. We as a government, having re-established trust between us and our citizens, will continue to sustain that trust in recognition of the fact that public office is a public trust, and gaining and sustaining that trust of our citizens is very fundamental to economic development.

“Today, the private sector has started partnering with our administration in building roads, special agro-processing zones, all other infrastructure, building schools with us, building primary health care centers with us, donating ambulances, a development that was never the case in the past.

“Trust is very reciprocal; the citizens will be able to trust their government, while the government must also be able to trust its citizens. They must be able to trust that when we provide a service, be it a road, airport, a school, a hospital, our citizens will take ownership of it, they will look after it, they will protect it as if it is their own, because, indeed, your taxes were invested in it,” he said.

Former governor Olusegun Osoba also lent credence to the plea, saying “I want us to continue to give the governor support, remain focused. Whatever anybody would say, the governor really worked hard and he did his best. I am sure the very first four years is just the beginning of the best, by the grace of God. In the next four years, we will see the better part of governance in Ogun State.

He also expressed happiness about the synergy that would be experienced between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the centre and in the state, noting that the people of the country would experience good governance of competence under the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidency.

He made this call when he received the governor, his deputy, the APC chairman in the state, and other members of the party at his Abeokuta residence, after the governor, his deputy, and members-elect received their Certificates of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In furtherance of his developmental agenda, Governor Abiodun has listed his major priority areas ahead of the new administration to include, among others, completion of the International Cargo Airport project, investment in public utilities, uninterrupted power supply, Kajola Dry Port, road infrastructure and ease-of-doing business.  

He simply summed it up all thus: “Having invested a lot in people-oriented infrastructure, ranging from highways, roads to public infrastructure such as schools, affordable housing, our primary health care centres, and hospitals.

“We are now going to be looking at public utilities to ensure that we have an adequate supply of potable water, uninterrupted power supply, we are going to commit to doing our best in terms of easing the ability to do business which is line with our vision to bring more people into our state.

“Our airport project will be completed before the end of this year. To that extent, we are going to invest in the Kajola Dry Port, which will allow the ease of the Apapa Port as well as facilitate business for our investors that are here in Ogun state alongside the completion of many projects that we started.

According to the governor, once the Kajola Dry Port in the Kajola Free Trade Zone is completed and ready for use, cargo can then be shipped directly to the state, thereby reducing demorrhage and creating job opportunities for the people in the state.

He further disclosed that about 7,000 members of the Ogun State Development Council and the Ogun State Cooperatives Federated Limited who had received their letters as Social Investment Assistants would soon begin to receive their remuneration. This, he explained, would help his administration to reach the grassroots at any point in time his administration’s plans to intervene and educate the people of the state.

While also assuring of the government’s dominance in education to enhance human capital development, Governor Abiodun promised to sustain the drive for job creation and youth empowerment.  As they say, “development is forever a work in progress”. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure the maximization of all opportunities that may be available under the new regime that is about to be inaugurated. We must put the acrimony arising from the recent elections behind us so that the state can forge ahead.   

Ogbonnikan wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State capital

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