Abiodun and the development agenda of Ogun State

The task of building a viable and prosperous society is not always an easy one, especially when equity, fairness and Justice to all segments is taken into consideration.

Great leaders over the world who had or are still imparting positively on the lives of their people, have always spent sleepless nights planning and plotting how best to make the their societies better places to live in.

The advanced countries and even the Asian Tigers of this world did not happened by wishful thinking. Leaders spent quality time planning and executing policies and programmes that have direct bearing on the people.

In Nigeria, especially since the return of democracy in 1999, there have been divergent views as to whether policies and programmes of government at the Federal, state and even the local government level have added value to the well-being of the the people or not. While some believe it has, majority are of the view that only small portion of the populace, particularly those close to the corridors of power are beneficiaries.

The monumental development witnessed in the old western region of Nigeria, which is still relevant today, could be attributed to the quality leadership provided by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He was said to be a master planner and a strategist whose main concern was the welfare of the people.

One can say that the people of southwest of Nigeria, Ogun State in particular, have been lucky to have leaders whose poliicies and programmes contributed to the socio-economic development of the State and brought prosperity to the average indigenes. No one can say with finality that previous governments did not add one value or the other in the life of the people.

From Chief Olusegun Osoba, whose administration focused on the development of the rural areas for economic prosperity to arrest rural-urban drift, to Otunba Gbenga Daniel government whose tenure worked towards securing the future of the people by ensuring that all sectors of the State received adequate attention.The immediate past administration also added its part by making the provision of infrastructure in the State its priority.

Then came Prince Dapo Abiodun, a successful businessman who has carved a niche for himself in the private sector. From May 29, when he took the up the mantle of leadership, Prince Abiodun has used every opportunity at his disposal to declare his mission statement of ” Building our future together” and such would be hinged on equity and fairness. His commitment is to provide a focussed and qualitative leadership that would engendered Public Private Partnership to move the State to the next level.

To demonstrate that he was ready for the task ahead, the Governor hit the ground running by holding series of meetings with Heads of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Heads of security agencies and other relevant stakeholders. He also inaugurated various Committees like the Chieftaincy Review MAUSTECH/OGUNPOLY, TASCE, Contracts Review, OOUTH, amongst others, to assess the challenges confronting the State with a view at addressing them, because, according to him, “one cannot build something on nothing”.

Giving credence to the statement of President Muhammadu Buhari, who at one of the National Economic Council meetings in Abuja, had asked states to focus on education, health, agriculture, among other sectors, Governor Abiodun had declared state of emergency in education sector to the delight of all stakeholders in the State, many of who believed that the poor show of students in both external and internal examinations as well as the deplorable state of infrastructure in schools across the State, are indications that all is not well with the sector

One is particularly happy that within three months in the saddle, the administration is backing it’s words with actions by taking a look at the education sector and is making efforts to embark on the rehabilitation of a primary school in each Ward of the State. The aim is to ensure that products from the system are comparable to their peers anywhere in the world and make the State regain its number one position in the country.

Health, according to popular saying, is wealth and healthy nation is a wealthy nation, It is a known fact that the sector in the State is dire need of urgent attention. To ensure that quality healthcare services are taken to the door steps of the people, the State government is embarking on the renovation of one Primary Health Centre in each of the 236 Wards in the State.

The pathetic state of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, also caught the attention of the Goveror especially the low quality health care delivery inspite of the high quality of medical personnel, dilapidated structures, outdated and unavailability of modern tools, have all added up to make the once renowned medical institution, the shadow of its former self. It is gratifying to know that a committee had been set up with a mandate to revamp the sector.

Another area which has been a source of worry to the government is unemployment. This is because it is generally believed that the devil finds work for idle hands. To ensure that the youths are engage positively in gainful ventures, government has come up with an initiative which will provide 10,000 jobless youths with a parcel of land to farm, while government will assist them in clearing, provision of seedlings, extension and off takers services to ensure that they make profit.

A major highpoint in this initiative is the introduction of a jobs portal which would enable the unemployed people register for jobs . The portal will register, on continuous basis, graduates, unemployed skilled and unskilled youths for accurate data to enable the administration provide them jobs situable to their trade and academic qualification. At the launching of the Job Portal at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, 20 unemployed youths got instant employment into the State Civil Service after emerging tops in a simple quiz competition, So far, more than 25,000 have registered.

Furthermore, government has also sent a Local Content Bill to the State House of Assembly for legislative action mandating Industries operating in the State to give priority to the people of the State, to especially those in the catchment areas, whenever they want to source for workers. Already over 25, 000 applicants have so far registered while the process of analysing and placement would commence soon

Taking a critical look at Nigeria today, one of the basic infrastructure that is lacking, particularly in the rural areas is motorable roads. A trip to most of our hinterlands is like embarking on a journey to hell.

To bring relief to the grassroots people, the administration of Governor Abiodun, has carried out the enumeration and mapping of three preferred roads in each Local Government Area in the State. These roads will be handle by local contractors who will patronise local suppliers or materials to boost the economic of those areas.

It can be said that despite the huge investment on road infrastructure in Ogun state, the reality on ground revealed that critical road infrastructure are still in a terrible shape. Thus, the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led administration is embarking on palliative measures not only to alleviate the suffering of the people, but as a stop gap to give room for proper planning and execution of major projects.

Giving Credence to the deplorable state of roads, the Governor said, ‘’In the course of electioneering, my extensive tour showed the unsatisfactory state of our public infrastructure including , roads in rural and urban area, water, electricity and housing. This leaves much to be desired and the concerns of our people in this regard are well placed. From ilaro to Ilara, Ajebo to Ajebandele, Odeda to Odogbol, Iwopin to Iwoye, Iperu to Ipokia, Sango- Ota to Sagamu, Ijebu-ode to Itoko, Igbesa to Igbogila , the story is the same’’.

Prince Abiodun said he had also made a covenant to ensure that tax payers money are judiciously expended “In order to maximize the full benefits of government spending on infrastructure, we shall ensure adequate planning, evaluation and preparation before infrastructural projects are embarked upon’’.

In the quest therefore to strike a balance between ensuring proper planning and making sure the people are not made to suffer unnecessarily, the government is currently embarking on palliative measures on some of the roads which include Adigbe-Obada road in Abeokuta, Lagos-Otta-Abeokuta road, Ilaro-Owode road, township roads in Ijebu Ode, among others.

The administration has also begun extensive rehabilitation of the 32Km Sango-Ojodu Abiodun road, which is one of the roads awarded and abandoned by the immediate past administration. The road, which cut across various border communities between Lagos and Ogun State has been in the state of disrepair for long. The construction of hydraulic facilities across Balogun Kuku road, Ijebu-Ode and Adigbe –Opako in Abeokuta which are some of the areas affected by recent flooding is on going.

Not done with local and state roads, government has taken a step further by taking a critical look at some Federal roads that crisscross the length and breadth of the State. Recently, while on a visit to the President in Abuja, the State Governor, sought for the permission of the Federal government to take over the rehabilitation of Ikorodu- Ogijo- Sagamu, Epe- Ijebu-Ode and Lagos-Abeokuta roads. This, he said will bring relief to the people who ply these roads on daily basis. “The Lagos-Abeokuta to Abeokuta road is a gory sight when it rains, our people need to commute to and from Lagos everyday, therefore, it is important we fix these roads”, he said.

It is often said that a nation that cannot feed her citizens is not fit to be called a nation and should not expect the best from them as the saying goes “an hungry man is an angry man”. To ensure that food is constantly on the people’s table, government is embarking on the resuscitation of farm settlements in the State, just as government is keying into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s intervention programmes on agriculture to enable Farmers in the State benefit.

Speaking while playing host to a delegation from the Africa Development Bank, at his Office, Prince Abiodun said, “The State will explore the CBN’s policy framework that banned some commodities like rice, maize and cassava, to increase local demand. We will provide hectares of land to about 20,000 to 40,000 farmers with Certificate of Occupancy, to allow them have sense of ownership, starting with 10,000 of our youths and cooperatives”, the Governor said.

He also informed his guests that his administration had resolved to have a world class ranch and abattoirs, adding that the State and AfDB would set up a team to work out modalities on how to achieve the dream of making the State the agricultural hub of the nation.

It is an incontrovertible fact that security is the current issue on the front burner in national discuss. The farmers/herdsmen crisis, bandits onslaughts, arm robbery, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities which have led to unnecessary lose of lives and property have given both the Central and state governments sleepless nights. Being a government that is concern with the security of its citizens, the State government has taken step in this regard. One is the inauguration of the committee on the “reinvigorated” State Security Trust Fund, to raise fund to provide security agencies in the State with necessary equipment to function effectively.

It is often said that “one who fails to plan, is planning to fail”, and as someone who has excelled in the private sector where successful execution of policy is hinged on proper planning, Prince Dapo Abiodun has , no doubt in the last 100 days days laid solid foundation for sustainable development of the State.

Udofia, is of the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.