BY YINKA OGUNDIMU
Through the Social Contract, government is bound to promote the happiness and see to the wellbeing of a greater majority of the people. This esentially is the article of faith that has come to define the credo of the Ogun State Government headed by Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Since he mounted the saddle of leadership about 100 days ago, the Abiodun administration has gone about laying a solid foundation for growth and development across the nooks and crannies of the Gateway State. The wind of change is already blowing and the stagnation and inertia that hitherto dogged progress and development in the state are gradually giving way to a new dawn of hope for a better tomorrow. Propelled by the ‘can do it spirit’, the mission and vision of the administration are cast in marble, and espoused through a clear-cut people oriented programmes.
The vision, of course, is to create focused and qualitative governance, “while creating an enabling environment for Public-Private Partnership to thrive; as fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and individual prosperity for the good people of Ogun State”.
The vision, according to Abiodun, is anchored on what he calls enablers: good governance, ICT/digital transformation, enabling business environment and transport infrastructure.
But the pillars upon which these enablers and the vision are being driven include agriculture and food security, health, education, power, housing, sports development, infrastructure as well as environmental and physical planning.
Since the inception of the administration on May 29, 2019, it has, without doubt, made some appreciable progress that indicates a clear future direction that holds fantastic promises for the state and its citizenry.
As the 5th Executive Governor of Ogun State, Abiodun, has left no one in doubt of his resolve to adopt genuine and purposeful leadership approach to governance. This is a clear departure from the past whereby most times, projects were executed without necessarily meeting the needs of the people and were mainly executed with ulterior motives or, sometimes, self-serving to satisfy a particular section of the state at the expense of others.
The administration has, instead, adopted an approach that ensures that the right spirit is put into governance, thereby steering clear of the quest for self-aggrandizement which often resulted in the planning and execution of grandiose projects meant only for ego tripping. It has, therefore, steadily continued to unfold and execute its plans of action to different parts of the state and its citizenry, with a view to ensuring that all parts of the state are taken care of, and are considered in project execution with tact and systematic approach.
Of utmost importance, the fact that government is a continuum, a sharp departure from the past whereby sheer political rivalry and utter vendetta drove the governments in power to abandon the projects of their predecessors. It is therefore the resolve of the new APC-led government in the state to ensure that existing infrastructural projects, irrespective of who takes the glory, do not suffer neglect. In adopting this stance, the administration has reasoned that leaving such inherited infrastructure to decay would only amount to huge waste of scarce resources and mismanagement of taxpayers’ money. In line with this philosophy however, the Abiodun is focusing on maintaining and upgrading (where need be) existing infrastructure.
Thus, while plans are ongoing to commence new developmental projects, in line with the administration’s mantra, ‘’Building Our Future Together”, anchored on the listed enablers and pillars, the administration believes that existing infrastructure must not be made to suffer neglect, especially when it has discovered that most of the infrastructure such as roads and health facilities, among others, are in bad shape and this is despite the huge resources claimed to have been expended on such infrastructure, especially roads, by the immediate past administration. Most roads in the state are in a deplorable state, with hapless members of the public at the receiving end.
It is in the light of the above that the Dapo Abiodun administration embarked on palliative measures on some existing roads, especially in the areas that were seriously ravaged by flood and excessive rains in recent times, while construction work is moving on top gear in some areas.
The signing of the Ogun State Road Management Amendment Bill to pave the way for Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) is no doubt a milestone with the state witnessing massive road rehabilitation and construction in all fronts.
In ensuring that the state’s funds are judiciously expended, the governor is demonstrating his strong belief in the growth of local economy .
Already, different teams of the OGPWA have been deployed in different parts and strategic locations in the state to tackle road maintenance challenges. The envisaged impact of this plan is that road projects would be executed with minimal cost and devoid of corruption that usually characterize those executed by private contractors. It is also a source of gainful employment for the army of unemployed youth.
Some of the areas the teams are already working steadily include, but not limited to, Itokin-Ibefun-Ijebu Ode road; Iperu-Ilisan road; Sango-Ojodu Abiodun road; Ilaro-Owode road; Abeokuta-Sango-Ota-Lagos road; Osi-Ota-Awolowo-Navy-Kola road; Balogun Kuku road; Ijebu Ode; and the reconstruction of Opako bridge in Adigbe, Abeokuta and many other township roads. The 32-kilometer Akute Ajuwon Alagbole road which was one of the road projects abandoned by the immediate past administration has also been captured.
As the government sets the stage for its developmental strides, there are some knotty issues it has to quickly contend with, and address. At the twilight of the eight-year expiration in office of the immediate past administration, it deliberately embarked on some measures in order to create confusion for the incoming administration. Some of these ill-conceived measures were the hurried employment and absorption of a new set of employees into the Civil Service, appointments without following due process, elevation and promotion of personnel; the worst of which being the upgrade of a total number of 75 Baales to Coronet kings, among others.
The administration, in taking proper stock of the situation, set up a committee of First Class traditional leaders with a view to ensuring that the last minute appointments were taken were reversed in the best interest of the state.
Thus, the immediate task of the administration is to ensure restoration of the hitherto lost public confidence in governance.
The foregoing is, therefore, seen as one of the utmost priorities of this administration. In achieving this, different panels were constituted to look into the various anomalies, as it becomes expedient to ensure that decisions taken were based on expert opinions. The committees, include the appointment and upgrade of Obas and Baales, and MAPOLY/ MAUSTECH imbroglio whose work is ongoing, among others.
A similar panel was also set up on the repositioning of Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, (OOUTH), Sagamu.
The talk of the town is however the newly launched Ogun state job portal on http://jobs.ogunstate.gov.ng which was designed not only to employ new set of people into government, but to also match indigenes of the state with jobs, trainings, workshops and other opportunities that abound in companies doing businesses in the state. Also, the response of the state indigenes to this job portal has been overwhelming with not less than 65,000 applicants have registered on the portal within the first five days of its launch. Still in the quest for job creation, the Governor has recently sent a Local Content Bill to the state House of Assembly which would compel companies operating or opening shops in the state to first consider the state indigenes in employment before any other people. This is apart from the instant employment offered to no fewer than 20 unemployed graduates during the launch of the programme.
The state government is also keying into the livestock transformation programme of the Federal Government with the proposed establishment of world class cattle ranches that would eventually lead to the production of dairy products, like milk. This will be executed through the Public-Private Partnership Initiative, which promises millions of jobs for unemployed youth as there are lots of value chains to be explored in this regard.
On this, Governor Abiodun said: “Nothing will delight us in this state than to have our ranches because even the cattle market that Lagos depends on is right here in our state and we have been discussing on how to ensure that we actually have a modernised ranch, properly organized, with an abattoir that will be world-class”.
As part of the clearer picture of using agriculture to drive the state’s economy, the Governor recently inaugurated the Steering Committee on the Anchor Borrower’s Programme. While inaugurating the 18-man committee at Oke-Mosan, he explained that “the setting up of the committee is part of the current administration’s resolve to improve on the agricultural sector for food security and job creation, which will also directly increase the internally generated revenue of the state”.
While saying that Ogun State had not benefited from the Central Bank of Nigeria-powered programme, the Governor stated that no fewer than 40,000 farmers would benefit from the programme as government is kick-starting it with 10,000 farmers. The farmers will have access to a single digit interest rate loan, a hectare of land each, upkeep allowance till after the first harvest and a ready market for off take of produce. This means of empowerment in accordance with the objectives of this administration will no doubt go a in solving the myriads of problems confronting the farmers, just as it encourages new participation amongst the youths.
“Matching words with action again, the government on August 29, 2019 at the official flag-off ceremony for FADAMA Graduate Unemployed Youths Scheme, known as (FADAMA GUYS), disclosed that 200 beneficiaries of the programme were given automatic slots, making the first set of farmers that would derive grants from the Ogun State Anchor Borrowers’ Programme recently launched in the state”.
The governor while declaring that his administration’s vision would be based on positive engagements of stakeholders, and above all Public Private Partnership Initiative, diring the recent meeting with chief executives of the Private Sector, also reiterated that his administration will fulfill all the commitments it entered into. A specific take-away from the engagement was the proposed bill on Ogun State Energy and Electricity Board which would soon be sent to the Ogun State House of Assembly to boost electricity supply in the state, given the centrality of electricity to the overall business success.
According to him, “Ogun Investment Bill will soon be passed into law by the State House of Assembly to fast-track our PPP initiative’’.
“More of such positive engagements with stakeholders will continue to evolve as the administration steadily progresses to tackle the problems of Ogun State headlong”.
While appreciating that all the big dreams in terms of projects and plans of his administration for the state can probably not be achieved in an atmosphere of insecurity, the Abiodun administration also sent a bill for the amendment of the State Security Trust Fund to the Ogun State House of Assembly; a bill which was also recently passed into law and signed by the Governor. Consequently, the Governor on August 24, 2019 inaugurated a Security Trust Fund Committee headed by Mr Bolaji Balogun. The committee, in line with the PPP vision of the administration, is expected to source funds to procure security equipment from the private sector in order to ensure that all parts of the state are fully secured. The primary responsibility of the committee is to ensure that no part of the state becomes a safe haven for criminally-minded elements. To combat the threats posed by banditry, especially the new spate of kidnapping, the Governor also assured that clearing of bushes along the highways would be done to give motorists better visibility on the highways. The signing of the bill into law by the governor and the inauguration of the security committee will, no doubt guarantee safety of lives and properties of the citizenry as well as secure their businesses across the state.
Thus, while some of the positive steps already taken by the current administration in Ogun State are inexhaustible, it is expected that the entire people of the state will continue to support the government especially as the Governor and his team roll up their sleeves to continue to consolidate on the administration’s ‘’Building Our Future Together Agenda”.
Ogundimu is Media Consultant to the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR