Despite all the negative predictions about the coming general elections by the naysayers, the transition process is very much on course. No cause for any alarm! After the primaries of all political parties, candidates for various elective offices have emerged, waiting for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare campaign open. While those who lost out of the contest are weighing other possible options, successful state actors are busy holding their nocturnal meetings, consulting and strategising on how to put up a good showing in the coming elections.
For the electorate, this is the most auspicious time to hold political leaders accountable for the mandate given to them in the last elections. Gone are the days when politicians would make mouth-watering promises during electioneering and then treat the voters with reckless abandonment. It will never happen again. Political awareness has changed the dynamics of power game. No one can hoodwink the people any more. Eyes are now open. Openly enough to hold public office holders accountable for their actions or inactions. Openly enough to know objective criteria for measuring good performance.
In Ogun State with sophistry and enlightened citizenry, now is the time for Governor Dapo Abiodun to present his scorecard. And I trust that with his open, responsive, and inclusive governance style, he will not hesitate to gladly do so at the appropriate time because he has enough achievements to showcase and justify his mandate. But for his steadfastness in delivering on his campaign promises, his re-election bid would have been a herculean task in the face of the opposition from subversive elements within and outside the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. For being a man of his words, however, his performance records are visible enough for all to see, including his political adversaries. All is a promise well kept. Both quantitatively and qualitatively, the modest achievements the administration has recorded in the last three and a half years could be seen in the areas of infrastructure, conducive business environment, agro-allied development, improvement in investment potentials, health sector reform, affordable housing scheme, employment generation, education, and human capital development, among others, as encapsulated in the robust economic agenda of Infrastructure, Social Welfare and Well-being, Education, Youth Development and Agriculture (ISEYA) which has propelled all the various interventions.
Coming with a robust experience as a private sector player, Governor Abiodun is very well appreciative of the role of investment as the engine of economic growth. This realisation informed the establishment of Ogun State Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency with a mandate to attract investors into the State; coordinate the private sector investment activities, and streamlining processes and procedures to ease the investors’ journey to setting up their operations successfully in the state.
Other supplementary initiatives include capacity building for well over 500 entrepreneurs across the State to enable them access financing and also scale up their businesses; empowerment of over 2500 rural women across the state through the provision of products worth N100m; land acquisition within 30-day for the issuance of C of Os through the launch of an online portal and above all Ogun State Land Administration and Revenue Management System (OLARMS).
With all of these reforms in place, economic transformation agenda of the administration has been on a steady progress with the state maintaining the lead as investment destination of choice in the country. Of course, the road leading to this rare feat is not laced with gold. There are challenges, distractions and some ups and downs, but with determination, focused leadership and friendly business environment, it is a sure bet that the state would attain its full potentials as an industrial hub, not only in Nigeria but West Africa sub-region.
Yes, the vision still remains largely a work in progress. With commitment of the administration and the support of the good people of Ogun State, the laudable objective will be realised. At every given opportunity, the Governor often reassures foreign investors of a conducive environment for the growth of their businesses in the state. Once again, he reiterated this commitment when he recently received in audience the management team of a multinational company, Apple and Pears, saying his administration was determined to ensure that Ogun State sustained its status as an investment destination of first choice in the country.
“We have put in place investment friendly policies and programmes, including strong security architecture for us to continue to attract investment into our State.
We will do everything necessary to keep investors happy in Ogun State,” he enthused.
For the assurance of a good environment, the Chairman, Apple and Pears, Habib Jaafar, also expressed the readiness of his company to expand its investment portfolio in the state and also facilitate other investors to come to the State.
Infrastructure is the catalyst that sustains investment profitability, growth and development. Investment without infrastructure is like building something on nothing. Thus, with an integrated development plan put in place, infrastructure funding has remained the centerpiece of the Abiodun’s administration with massive road rehabilitation and construction cutting across the three senatorial districts.
Yet, some cynics are quick to criticise the government for being too slow in delivering the dividends of democracy. It is not unexpected. Sometimes, it is easy for critics to forget where they are coming from. In 2019 when Governor Abiodun came into office, he inherited N7.5 billion loan purportedly obtained by his predecessor at the twilight of his tenure for the purpose of road construction. Unfortunately, he left most of the roads in deplorable conditions, while those undergoing construction were abandoned, indicating that the money had been misappropriated. Despite the paucity of funds and the financial liability amounting to of N221.55 billion, excluding over N200 billion owed contractors, Prince Abiodun pledged to complete all the ongoing road projects inherited and also embarked on new ones.
At the moment, a total number of 270km of new roads, accumulating to 661.76km, 99.1km, cutting across the three senatorial districts have either been constructed or reconstructed, while over 562.63km of roads are ongoing throughout the state.
Affordable housing is also an integral part of Abiodun’s infrastructure master plan on which the administration is currently deploying financial resources. Apart from the fact that the housing project forms part of the basic needs of human existence, shelter, the government equally recognises the project as a means of generating employment for the people, directly and indirectly.
Notable among the state housing projects embarked upon are Prince Court Estate located at Kemta Estate, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta under the First Phase of the project as well as the ongoing 2000 units, including King’s Court Estate (Abeokuta); Laderin Civil Servants Scheme,; Ilaro, Ota; Ijebu-Ode and Sagamu.
On top of all these is the ongoing Agro-Cargo Airport project, located at Ilishan-Remo which is expected to be completed before the end of this year. According to the Governor, the construction of the airport which commenced in March, 2022 would probably be the fastest constructed airport in the continent. This implies that, all things being equal, the state will witness its first official landing of cargo planes in less than six months from now.
When fully becomes operational, it is projected to create additional 25,000 jobs for the teeming unemployed youths. “The impact of the Agro-Cargo airport will impact positively on hotels and warehouses being constructed within the corridor. Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) are coming there. We estimate that in the first eighteen (18) months, we will create a minimum of twenty-five thousand (25,000) jobs in that airport. This is not a power-point airport,” the Governor quipped.
Apart from employment creation, the project will also open up the state, deepen the development process, and also provide an alternative to the congested Lagos port facilities. In the same vein, it will also shore up state revenue generation capacity, which is a right step towards financial self-sufficiency.
Health is the most critical sector around which all other things revolves. Health, they say, is wealth. As an administration that places high premium on the well-being of its citizens, since Abiodun assumed the functions of office, several remarkable reforms have been achieved. The most notable of these is the resuscitation of the collapsing Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu. Apart from that, the government has also equipped State hospitals in Ijaiye, Abeokuta and Ilaro in Yewa South Local Government Area and other secondary health facilities across the three senatorial districts and purchased a new fleet of 10 ambulances, excluding donations.
To optimise return on physical investment on healthcare facilities, the government further provided incentives for medical personnel including resident doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in various cadres at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu as well as other General Hospitals and Primary Health Care Centres.
As a way of making health care accessible to the ordinary people, the government equally embarked on Medical outreach by offering free medical examination including including free eyeglasses, immunisation, Blood Pressure (BP) checks, Hepatitis tests, counselling and vaccination in several locations in the state.
As part of its effort to achieve food self-sufficiency, the administration has also given a boost to the agriculture sector by constituting a Steering Committee on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme as well as the FADAMA Graduate Unemployed Youths Scheme known as FADAMA GUYS. The objective of the programme is to give automatic slots to 200 beneficiaries who would derive grants from the Ogun State Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. The scheme targets 40,000 beneficiaries starting with 10,000 farmers who would have access to a single digit interest rate loan as a means of generating employment for the teeming youths.
Since his assumption of office, Governor Abiodun has given the education sector the seriousness it deserves as the bedrock of development. Realising that human is the means and end to development; he gave priority to investment on education by building one primary school in each of the 236 electoral wards in the 20 local government areas. At the tertiary level, he raised a visitation panel that helped to resolve the six-year stalemate that threatened the foundation of the Tai Solarin College of Education (now Sikiru Adetona College of Science, Education Technology), Omu-Ijebu, addressed the crisis rocking the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Ojere, Abeokuta and restored hope and confidence in the institutions. Over 218 community schools spread across the state were approved between January and June this year, while 577 teachers in the affected schools were also absorbed into the state’s civil service system.
The government has also commenced Urban Water Resuscitation projects in various locations to provide potable water to Abeokuta and 14 other major communities in Ikenne, Igbogila, Ibooro, Odonopa, Ipokia, Idowa, Omu Ijebu, Ago-Iwoye, Igbesa, Owode Yewa, Imoru, Ibefun and Ikangba, Powerline at Ikangba Borehole Scheme in Ijebu-Ode. This has significantly addressed the water shortage in the state with hundreds of thousands of households that had hitherto endured water scarcity are now getting huge relief after the restoration of the corporation as ordered by the Governor.
For ease of waste disposal and promotion of hygiene among the citizenry, the Abiodun administration also established new Waste Disposal and Management parastatal, the Ogun State Waste Management Agency (OGWAMA) to ensure clean environment.
Commendation has been pouring in torrents on Governor Abiodun for embarking on the expansion of the state power distribution network by procuring and installing several 500 KVA transformers to communities in all the 20 local government areas of the state. The list is inexhaustible.
All these are could not have been possible if not for the resilience and aggressive revenue drive of the present administration. With the success so far recorded in its transformation agenda, the Ogun State Government is now optimistic that it would meet its N100bn internally generated revenue target for 2022 because of the numerous innovative ideas already put in place.
According to the state Commissioner for Finance and Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Dapo Okubadejo, the IGR target is achievable.
Okubadejo, in an interview with journalists, recently in Abeokuta, said the government had broadened its revenue base through innovation, provision of infrastructure and digital transformation initiatives towards the realisation of the target.
His words: “We have embarked on a lot of fiscal, economic and financial management reforms in the areas of fiscal responsibility, debt management, procurement, treasury management, investment promotion and ease of doing business, amongst others.
“In addition, several economic transformation initiatives have been implemented to deepen and broaden the revenue base of the state while blocking leakages and improving process efficiency and service delivery through digitisation,” he said.
What is it that is impossible when you have the spirit of “I can”? That is the Abiodun leadership for you.
- Ogbonnikan wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun state capital