Ogun: Between a governor and opposition within

July 25, 2020
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It is universally accepted that the main purpose of being in government is to improve the living conditions of the governed. Here at home, it is called dividend of democracy. It simply means that the lives of the people are touched positively by the policies of the government in power.

On 29, May, 2019, the batons changed and new governments were sworn in across the country. In line with the philosophy of governance, many governors have been striving to fulfil their electoral campaign promises to the electorate against all odds.

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun is one such governor. Abiodun assumed the mantle of leadership in the ‘Gateway State’ against all odds. In his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), there were many forces and obstacles that were arrayed against him. These forces are still active and very potent. It is akin to having enemies within one’s own family. Outside the party, the opposition has been striving to undermine the governor. Although, 2023 seems far away, the opposition is already dreaming of another electoral contest, which could only explain the atrocious attack against the governor and his government.

Against opposition’s expectations,  Governor Abiodun has performed excellently well. Many of them were surprised with his accomplishment. Criss Jami said and I quote: “To be truly positive in the eyes of some, you have to risk appearing negative in the eyes of others.” In essence, while the opposition is yet to see anything good in the government, situation reports across the nook and crannies of the state point to a satisfied populace, who are grateful to the Dapo Abiodun-led government for it’s modest achievements in the face of the global economic realities.

The opposition has failed to realise the new normal, following the covid-19 pandemic that has been sweeping across the world since December last year. The reality of the virus spread is such that the world economy has shrunk. And Nigeria has not been an exception.

But, despite the negative effect of the ravaging pandemic, which has seen the shut down of economic activities with stay at home order in the last six months, there have been much improvements in all spheres of life in the Gateway State.

Amit Abraham it was who said: “There should be only one political ideology and that is good governance.” To say that Prince Abiodun has not provided good governance to his people since his assumption of office is akin to standing truth on it’s head.

Indeed, one can unequivocally say that Ogun State is lucky to have an astute administrator at this time of great economic challenges. The Abiodun magic has been felt across the state, unlike the last administration, which concentrated it’s projects in a section of the state.

Road construction and rehabilitation have been the major focus of the administration. It is a known fact that good roads bring development. Today, various communities that have not seen the presence of government in a long time have been ‘touched in the last one year. About 87km of new roads have been constructed so far in the state in the last one year. In the same vein, 68km of roads have been rehabilitated. Some of these roads include:

Ikola/Navy-Osi Ota; Raypower, Ota, State Hospital, Ilaro Internal Road Network; Ota Owode-Idiroko; Molipa-Fusigboye-Ojofa Street, Ijebu-Ode; Asafa Oke-Asafa Isale-Ayegun- Ojofa Street, Ijebu-Ode; Bright Fashion Baruwa Street, Sagamu; Hospital Road, Sagamu.

Others are Obantoko road, Idi Aba- Elite-Oke Lantoro, Abeokuta; Abeokuta-Sagamu Interchange,  Oba Erinwole Dual Carriageway, Oru-Awa-Alaporu-Ibadan; Adigbe Bridge, Ikoritameje-Adenrele/Olose Titun-Vespa, Ifo, Iberekodo General Hospital Internal Road, Abeokuta, Iperu Ilishan, Sagamu Iperu Ode, Siun Ogere.

The on-going construction of the 14-kilometer Ijebu-Ode-Epe is a futuristic approach to governance. The completion of this notable road, close to the border with Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital, is expected to open another industrial hub in the state, like the Agbara, Sango Ota industrial hub, which is also located close to Lagos. The road is 10 lanes, four on each side, with one pull-out section, and a 14-lane toll plaza for easy payment of tolls.

Another area where the Abiodun administration has done much is the health sector. With the covid-19 pandemic, Ogun, being the state where the index case in Nigeria visited on March 9, and sharing border with Lagos, the epicentre of the pandemic in the country was in a very dangerous situation. To avoid and prevent the spread of the virus, the governor quickly assembled a powerful team of experts to advise it going forward.

Consequently, five treatment and Isolation Centres for COVID-19 patients  were established at Ikenne, Sagamu and Abeokuta. In addition, a Molecular Laboratory at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, (OOUTH) Sagamu, was established. The Molecular Laboratory was the first of its kind to be solely funded by a state in Nigeria. It has the capacity to carry out 150 tests a day, together with the first COVID-19 Mobile Laboratory in Nigeria with the capacity to run 450 tests a day, at the  250-bed hospital at Abeokuta. The government also provided COVID-19 Drive-Through and Walk-In Testing Centres equipped with a specially designed protective glass enclosure, which prevents medical personnel collecting samples from getting infected. The administration also renovated two General Hospitals and 20 selected Primary Health Centres. PHCs, to serve as first responders to cases of COVID-19, while Hazard Allowance to health workers was reviewed upward.by 300 per cent.

Aside the steps taken to curb the spread of coronavirus, the administration also.scored high marks in the general health sector. These include the rehabilitation of the Abeokuta and Ilaro General Hospitals, with work ongoing in  236 Primary Healthcare Centres. Recruitment of 82 health workers, including resident doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in various cadres into the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, and 56 others across the other state health facilities. Immunisation of almost 1.3 million children against polio. The government also undertook regular medical outreach offering free medical examination, including free eye glasses, immunisation, blood pressure and sugar level checks, Hepatitis counselling and vaccination, providing life-saving intervention to 8,000 women. Select State Hospitals were upgraded to provide Prevention of HIV from Mother to Child (PMTCT) and Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) services. Also, new medical equipment, including a dialysis machine, mobile digital x-ray machine, high resolution ultrasound machine, new intensive care beds, twelve new ventilators, eight CPAP machines, 10 new ambulances and logistics trucks were purchased.

When the government came on board, the decay in the education sector was palpable with dilapidated classrooms and personnel with low morales, resulting in the state performing poorly in extetnal examinations, including the West African School Certificate, WASSC and the National Examination Council, NECO. Governor Abiodun’s interventions in this sector saw the renovation and reconstruction of 95 public schools fitted with modern corrugated roofs, furniture, halls and modern toilet facilities across the state. 10,000 teaching and non-teaching staff were promoted during the 2016/2017 promotion exercise.

Other interventions include foreign capacity building for school administrators, ensuring technology-based human development for teachers, inducting 132 principals, 122 vice principals and 4 zonal secretaries to fill the deficit the administration met across secondary schools in the state.

Government also intervened to resolve the crisis over the status of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic and the intended Moshood Abiola University of Technology, as well as the perennial crisis at the Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu. It brought the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Ojere-Abeokuta, back on its feet, with a good number of employed staff, matriculated students, robust IGR, conducive ecosystem of caterers, traders, artisans and community working in harmony.

Governor Abiodun, being a successful businessman knows the importance of creating a conducive atmosphere for businesses to grow. He also knows the advantage Ogun State has in sharing border with Lagos State. To ensure a thriving business climate, the administration established a Business Environment Council. The Council is a one stop shop for those wanting to start investmeny in the state, where land applications, permits etc will be facilitated without red tape. Government also set up Enterprise Development Agency (EDA) for capacity building and facilitation of financing access to support the MSME sector, and initiated a creative arts and entertainment hub to bolster the primacy of the State as the nation’s number one Industrial hub.

Other steps taken in this sector include implementation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for budget preparation, setting up a Fiscal Responsibility Commission, establishment of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Office, implementation of staff biometrics and payroll audit and creation of the Bureau of Public Procurement Council.

Continuing with its midas touch, the administration also resuscitated the construction equipment rental company, Plant Gate. It established, for the first time in the state’s history, a Power and Energy Board carrying out, among others, procurement and installation of transformers to communities across the State. It established Ogun TechHubs as centres for incubation and innovation for tech start-ups, skills acquisition.

The housing sector was not left untouched. Within one year, the administration constructed Prince Court Estate at Kemta, Abeokuta, an affordable housing project with a plan for 450 units. At the moment,135 units have been delivered in the first phase. King’s Court Estate Development project at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta is a 23-unit of 2 and 3 bedroom affordable bungalows at Laderin Estate under the Civil Servants Scheme. The  administration undertook downward review of the selling price for the 3 bedroom flats and 2 bedroom flats at the A.A.K. Degun Estate situated in Laderin, Abeokuta and ensured the relaxation of terms and condition of sale of the units, including the reduction of interest rate from 18 per cent to 6 per cent. Government has also commenced work on the predecessor’s uncompleted projects that are considered priorities and considered impactful as recommended by the review committee, set up to review those contracts awarded in the twilight of the previous administration. Government has been negotiating and mobilizing the contractors back to site and they are all on site already.

The government has also been magnanimous in absorbing about 2,000 ASCON entrants who were employed by the last administration and the re-instatement of unionists that were sacked by  former governor Ibikunle Amosun. It is also on record that in February this year, 1,000 people from across all the 20 LGAs iin the State were recruited nto the Ogun State Environmental Protection Agency (OGEPA).

These achievements are testament to a man who prepared for governance and knows his onions. What Prince Abiodun needs at this moment is support from all and sundry to move the Gateway State to the next level.

He has demonstrated his competence. He is not owning workers in the state and has done so much, despite the drop in revenue and the burden of a N221.55bn debts with over N15bn so far committed to servicing the debts.

Branco writes this piece through funmibranco@aol.com

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