Gov Abiodun’s Five Years in the Saddle

By Lekan Adeniran

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams

Today, for millions of ordinary Nigerians whose experiences about political leadership in the country over the years had been traumatizing due to dashed expectations, opening any discourse about the polity either through debates or this type of editorial piece is distractive, wasteful and has nothing to offer them in terms of socio-economic benefits.

To many observers of the increasingly uninspiring turf of the polity, this apathy or total lack of interest of the masses in such issues is not misplaced in view of the current economic situation, which has accentuated the high level of poverty among the people.

But then, as terribly cloudy as the political firmament and its associated seeming hopelessness appears to be, there are still some few leaders who, by virtue of their innate virtues and futuristic approach in leadership, are championing the cause of a silver lining in the firmament. By their policies and actions, they are still demonstrating to the governed, especially the youths, that there is hope for their future in Nigeria, a land adequately blessed for regeneration and prosperity for the inhabitants.

Among this genre of the few people-oriented, value-driven, and grassroots-focused political leaders beaming the torchlight of hope is the Governor of Ogun State, His Excellency Prince Dapo Abiodun.

A cursory appraisal of the governor’s developmental initiatives anchored on his “ISEYA” mantra over the past five years clearly showed that he is redefining governance through inclusive strategy by taking real dividends of democracy to the doorsteps of ordinary people across the three senatorial zones of the state, in line with his avowed promise not to leave any part of the state untouched and undeveloped.

On assumption of office for his first tenure in 2019, Governor Abiodun unveiled a five-point agenda with specific thrusts in Infrastructure, Social Welfare and well-being, Education, Youth Empowerment and Agriculture (ISEYA) as the developmental focus of his administration. Even though the political environment in the first few months of his coming to power was not really supportive as his opponents embarked on frivolous campaigns of calumny and invidious blackmails on his election due to undue envy and frustration. In spite of these distractions ,the governor remained focused, unperturbed and has since silenced his detractors with evidence-based sterling performances through innovative and transformational policies and programmes.

Propelled by the zeal of an irrepressible crusader for positive change, Abiodun has today manifested the Midas touch to all sectors of the state’s political economy, thereby demonstrating to the citizens his determination to change their past narrative of abject poverty to a new song of progressive prosperity.

On his promise for improved infrastructure, which is the first in the “ISEYA” mantra to ensure broad-based development in the state, the governor has completed over 500 kilometres of roads across the state and is currently constructing several others for the purposes of linking the cities and rural communities for a holistic socio-economic integration of the Gateway State for sustainable growth.

Some of the roads already completed, which cut across the state, include Abeokuta-Sagamu Expressway; Obantoko Road (Fajol-American Junction-Unity Estate-Gbonagun); Idi-Aba-Elite-Oke Lantoro; Ikoritameje-Adenrele (Olose Titun Vespa); Panseke-Adigbe; City Gate Monument Development Flyover Bridge, Kuto; Arepo road, Somorin-Kemta-Idi Aba; Olusegun Osoba-Toyin Agbado, Yakoyo Bridge to Mr. Biggs section along Akute; Owode-Siun.

There are also the Oru-Awa-Ilaporu-Ibadan expressway; Molipa-Asafa Isale-Ayegu-Ojofa; Asafa Oke-Fusigboye-Ojofa Street; Oba Erinwole road, Sagamu; Awujale road, Ejinrin-Idowa-Awa-Ibefun-Itoikin; Ijebu Ode-Epe-Sagamu-Benin Interchange Flyover Bridge; Esure-Ijebu Mushin road; Ogbagba Street, Ijebu Ode; Molusi College road, Ijebu Igbo; Ilishan Market road; Iperu Roundabout-Ode; Sagamu Junction-Iperu Roundabout.

Also, Ibooro-Imasayi-Igan Okoto-Ayetoro road (Phase 1) in Yewa North Local Government Area was reconstructed after several years of neglect. Others, such as Ikola-Navy-Osi Ikola; Raypower; Joju, Sango; Ilashe-Koko-Alari; Oke Ola, Imeko; Tollgate-Singer GRA, Ota; Ilaro-Iwoye (Phase 1); Iwoye-Owode Yewa Secondary School road, (Phase2); Owode Yewa Secondary School-Owode Yewa Junction road (Phase 3) have also been rehabilitated.

The governor has also directed the immediate reconstruction of the 21-km Ita-Oshin-Ayetoro road. Some of the other ongoing projects by the government include Lafenwa Rounder-Ayetoro road; Adatan-Gbonagun; Akute-Denro-Ishasi; Sango-Ota-Ijoko-Agbado-Oke Aro-Lambe-Akute-Alagbole-Ojodu Abiodun; Adesanolu, Mowe; Mowe-Ofada; Obafemi Awolowo Way-Mada-Takete; Ejinrin-Oluwalogbon-Ijebu Ode; Orile Oko; Hospital Road, Ogijo; Ado Odo- Idogo (Phase 2); Atan-Lusada-Agbara-Marogbo-Tollgate road; Oke Erinja-Erinja Ilobi (Phase 1)

The governor requested each local government in the state to name three most critical roads requiring upgrades and immediately commenced work on the road networks, which have since been completed.

The Dapo Abiodun-led administration is also doing so much to develop the agricultural sector through sundry farming, food processing, and marketing initiatives in the past few years.

With the implementation of the Ogun State Agricultural Policy and Ogun State Livestock Development Policy, the Abiodun-led administration has created thousands of jobs in the sector. Similarly, the N50 million Ijebu Development Initiative for Poverty Reduction (Eriwe) introduced to develop the fish subsector in the state and the empowerment of over 40,000 agripreneurs in cassava cultivation, or the distribution of motorcycles to extension agents to reach farmers in remote areas have remarkably transformed agriculture and agribusiness endeavours of farmers and agripreneurs across the state. The governor recently unveiled plans for a 20,000-hectare rice farmland in the Yewa axis to be operated by private agribusiness investors.

Also, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) Anchor Borrowers Programme, the trail-blazing Prince has encouraged the youth in agriculture with the creation of the Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency (OGUNIPA) and the establishment of the Ogun State Business Executive Council (OGUNBEC) to make the state the preferred choice for agribusiness investors.

The multibillion naira Gateway International Airport, an agro-cargo facility, which many investors are already expressing their interest in view of its invaluable socio-economic benefits, including bright prospects for return on investments, is another giant strides recorded by the Governor Abiodun-led administration in the agricultural sector. The project is designed to create about 50,000 direct and indirect jobs when it becomes operational. Apparently encouraged by the remarkable strides the governor is making to transform the Gateway State to agro export hub in the country, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu recently approved the Special Agro-Cargo Processing Zone, created to serve the airport as a Free Trade Zone (FTZ), located very close to airport.

Beaming the performance assessment torchlight to other sectors reflected that Governor Abiodun had surpassed analysts’ expectations. For instance, in the education sector, the administration has abolished all levies in primary schools and also adopted a school per ward for development as a model school in furtherance of its agenda towards ‘zero illiteracy level’ in the state. To enhance teaching and improve teacher/student ratio, the government launched the Ogun State Teaching Experience Acquisition Channel (Ogun TREACH) with the employment of 5000 interns, with 1000 interns transitioned to permanent teachers under the scheme. To encourage the sector’s workforce, the administration has promoted teachers and non-teachers as a way of encouraging them for more work. Extensive construction and rehabilitation of secondary and tertiary institutions have been carried out with the provision of technologies to upgrade their standards and position the students for global competition.

Still under the education sector, the Dapo Abiodun-led administration recently disbursed over N3.5 billion through the EDUCASH initiative to lessen the impact of the current economic crunch on students and their parents, with 150, 000 students and pupils from tertiary institutions and secondary and primary schools benefitting.

In the health sector, the governor is championing the ‘health for all’ drive at primary and secondary levels with all resources at the government’s disposal since his assumption of office in 2019. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration was the first that inaugurated State Emergency Medical Treatment Committee to enhance the Ambulance and Emergency Service delivery for which the Federal Government commended the state’s exemplary approach in combating the pandemic then.

Specifically, in area of primary healthcare, the Abiodun-led administration has consistently conducted training for health workers on comprehensive screening for new born babies to tackle sickle cell disease, and for the first time in 45 years, secured the full accreditation and upgrade of the Ogun State Schools of Nursing and Midwifery to collegiate status and inaugurated Sexual Therapy and Assaults Referral Centre in Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), the Family Planning Centre at the State Hospital, Ijebu-Ode, and distributed over 25 tricycle ambulances to rural areas, among other commendable initiatives. More than 2000 people have benefitted from the Ogun Free Surgical Intervention Programme since it was launched in March.

A cursory appraisal of the administration’s efforts to provide affordable housing in the state shows clearly that Governor Abiodun is a transformative leader. A few weeks ago, the administration apart from its modest achievements in the sector during the first tenure of the governor, flagged off the construction of 200 housing units with the site for the project being cleared in Iperu, Ikenne Local Government. By its design, the project will provide housing for residents in the emerging Remo Zone Economic Hub, with the expected influx of workers to the area and complement the state government’s investment in the Gateway Agro-Cargo Airport.

This is even as the governor recently visited the President Muhammadu Buhari Estate, a flagship housing project (named after former President Mohammadu Buhari)in the state, promising that between 200 to 250 units of housing units, with the complementary landscape and all other pieces of furniture that are required to make the place an ideal place to live in, will soon be completed. Over 1000 housing units have been delivered, while an additional 1000 units are under construction across the state. The administration is promising to deliver 10,000 housing units by 2027.

Another commendable trail-blazing initiative of the Abiodun-led administration in Ogun State is in the transportation sector. Just a few months ago, the state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ashok Layland, an Indian auto company, for the supply of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) mass transit buses for transportation system in the state, thus becoming the first state in Nigeria to run CNG powered buses.

The MoU is in line with the “ISEYA” agenda of the administration aimed at operationlization of the approved multi-modal transport master plan for the state connecting air, road, sea, and rail systems.

In addition to the deal’s potential to reduce transportation fares for commuters, the project will also support the government in creating a more environmental-friendly transportation system with the attendant implications for improved health for lives and fauna in the state.

Governor Abiodun has also demonstrated clearly that he is a man of rich cultural heritage in his leadership style in the Gateway State. Despite his drive to leverage the socioeconomic competitiveness of Ogun State on technology and innovation, he can be regarded as the most culture-oriented governor in Nigeria, given his very strong relationship with the royal fathers. He is, as the Yoruba will say, ‘Omoluabi’ indeed!

No wonder this indefatigable governor who, based on his unassailable and outstanding performances in office, is being commended by those who value purposeful leadership in governance. The governor has so far been honoured by local and international organizations with many awards of commendation in most areas of governance, with more of such awards waiting in the wings.

Governor Abiodun, as the foremost torch bearer in transformational governance in the country, has, no doubt, moved beyond the ‘Renewed Hope’ line to the ‘Restored Hope’ altitude in his irrepressible desire to surpass the expectations of the Ogun State indigenes and residents in terms of democratic dividends for all.

*Adeniran is Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun

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