By Kunle Somorin
AFTER the 2019 general elections, 10 new first-term governors emerged, including the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun. The emergence of Prince Abiodun, first as standard-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and later as the duly elected governor of the Gateway State, is well documented. Partly because the people of Ogun State had a forgettable eight years preceding Prince Abiodun, it became telling that the new governor must immediately swing into action to address deficits in welfare, infrastructure, inclusiveness and result-oriented and policy-based leadership. The governor himself, upon taking the oath of office, set a lofty height of target for himself and his team for the rapid fulfillment of his electoral promises. Prince Abiodun’ s vision for Ogun is to give the state focused and qualitative governance and to create the enabling environment for a public private sector partnership, which is fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and individual prosperity of the people of Ogun. He aims to achieve the above by improving citizens confidence and trust in government through transparent and accountable leadership. He also wants to develop and enhance the value chain for the abundant resources for the purpose of galvanising economic and social development of the citizens of Ogun State.
Prince Abiodun also promised to improve the development of the human capital of Ogun State, through greater investment in qualitative education, skills acquisition as well as entrepreneurship.And as a private sector player keen on good governance before heeding the call to serve his people in his present capacity, Prince Abiodun promised that: “We shall, through prudent, transparent and accountable leadership, ensure that public resources and opportunities are made available to all our citizens in order to ensure they have a fulfilling livelihood.” While the electoral mandate of four years cannot and should not be evaluated within the first 100 days, one of the most simplistic yet effective ways of measuring progress in governance is to appraise the relationship between word and action. Thus, we should take a cursory look at Ogun, 100 days after Prince Abiodun took office, to see if his actions match the promises made earlier.
At more events than one, Prince Abiodun had decried the inability of previous administrations to take advantage of Ogun States status as the gateway to entering Lagos, Nigerias commercial capital and gateway to exiting it. His vision is to open up the state by providing infrastructure for private sector-led investment and one area that has received unprecedented attention within the last 100 days is the rehabilitation of roads across the state. During his post-inauguration tour of the state, Prince Abiodun was appalled by the poor state of Ogun roads and immediately raised a team of experts to address the situation. Work on the abandoned 32km Sango-Ojodu-Abiodun Road has received fresh breath of life. Prince Abiodun has also decided to intervene in the rehabilitation of three federal roads of strategic importance to the state. They are: the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Epe-Ijebu-Ode Road and Ikorodu-Sagamu Road. We have identified other roads like the Agbara-Atan-Ota, Ewekoro-Ifo, Sagamu Interchange and the Ilaro-Ibese roads which are in bad shape and working to put them in good condition, Prince Abiodun told a meeting of organised private sector executives.
Rural roads are also a priority to the Abiodun administration. The Ogun State Road Maintenance Agency (Amendment) Act 2019 has empowered the agency to intervene in fixing deplorable rural roads. In fact, there is a road project ongoing in every local government of Ogun State since May 2019. Early in the life of the Abiodun administration, the governor admitted that there were gaps in the education sector of the state. Agreed, we have the largest number of tertiary institutions in this state. However, the performances of our students are not encouraging and we have to change that so we may be declaring a state of emergency in the education sector, he said, promising to bring the education sector up to standard.
The governor has since set up visitation panels on state-owned tertiary institutions to investigate issues affecting the quality of education offered and received in those institutions. Recently, the panel of the Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu, submitted its report and the reports of both the Moshood Abiola University of Technology and the Ogun State Polytechnic are being awaited. Also recently, the committee set up to look into the situation at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH) has submitted its findings and implementation of its recommendations has started in earnest. We are going to repair and refurbish one school per ward across the state. We are also looking at vocational centres and turning some schools to technology hubs, and create a job portal to warehouse skilled youths for employers, the governor has promised. Reagrding affordable healthcare delivery, one of the first official functions performed by Price Abiodun as governor was to visit the OOUTH, where he lamented the state of the tertiary hospitals facilities. An 8-man committee, chaired by Dr Yemi Onabowale of Reddington Hospital, was set up to assess the modes of operation and state of facilities at the OOUTH, with a view to reinventing the institution into a world-class facility providing world-class services.
In the course of 100 days, the governor has also met with the management team of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), where he shared his administrations resolve to rejuvenate the delivery of primary healthcare to the citizens of Ogun State. Health facilities across the state are in shambles and we are going to restore them to life-saving facilities. We are focusing on primary healthcare centres because they are the closest to the people and it will reduce the pressure on secondary health facilities. We will ensure that a befitting primary healthcare centre is made closer to the people. Only cases that cannot be treated at PHC can be referred to secondary health institutions, Prince Abiodun promised.
At the flagging off of the Free Medical Services at Ilisan, Ikenne Local Government, Prince Abiodun reiterated the importance of affordable healthcare for the Ogun public.
In respect of agriculture and sustainable job creation, to Governor Abiodun, there is a direct correlation between job creation and tapping the abundant agricultural potentials of Ogun State. The state is poised to collaborate with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on its Anchor Borrowers Scheme to set up modern farmers with knowledge, tools, land and seedlings for the cultivation of food and cash crops. The Abiodun-led Ogun State Government has also met with the African Development Bank (AfDB), on the possibility of raising an ambitious 10,000 smart farmers.
To ease the bottleneck of starting a business in the state, a bill to establish the Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency, a one-stop-shop for investment, is before the State House of Assembly. This is in addition to the establishment of the State Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) to strengthen Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and boost their capacities.
Proactive Stance on Security and Safety
As earlier promised at a security and intelligence meeting, Prince Abiodun recently inaugurated the committee to oversee the now-amended Ogun State Security Trust Fund, in response to the recent security situation in the state. It is a demonstration of our governments unreserved commitment towards ensuring that the people have a good life and pursue their legitimate business in a secured environment, Prince Abiodun said.
The governors proactive disposition to issues of security was demonstrated during the recent kidnappings experienced in parts of the state. Providing leadership when there is a crisis is a mark of commitment and a vital note of assurance to the public that the governor understands the situation and is working to address it. Also, considering the strategic location and positioning of the state, a sense of insecurity in the state would have a ripple effect on the security of other states, especially Lagos which shares its only internal boundary with Ogun. As a seasoned administrator and private sector executive, it is unsurprising how Governor Abiodun responded to the challenge insecurity poses to the development of the state.
•Somorin is Chief Press Secretary to the Ogun State governor