So much has been achieved in Ogun State in the last 10months of the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun and so much, especially in the area of infrastructural renewal, security, health, education and Information and Communications Technology among others would be achieved in the months ahead. The foundations have been laid. Last May, when Governor Abiodun was inaugurated, he espoused his ‘Building the Future Together’ agenda for the state. Judging by the indices so far, he has not deviated or dithered, rather, he seems to be on a supersonic speed to pack many achievements into his first year in office.
On a recent media tour of some of his projects, we discovered that the governor is not just an ideas man; he is a pragmatist and hard-worker who is wholly committed to entrenching and enthroning an Ogun State that would sooner be the pride of indigenes and investors and visitors alike. Whilst this is not an exhaustive list in any way, the highlighted achievements are a pointer to the ingenuity and masses-centric approach to governance in Ogun State.
THE OGUN TECH HUB AND SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS (STEM) CENTRE
Our first port of call was the Ogun Tech Hub and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) Centre. Located along Kobape Road, Abeokuta Expressway, the Ogun Tech Hub is sited on a vast expanse of land hitherto housing an abandoned school building. It was, however, re-purposed for the tech hub and is now a sight to behold at night and during the day. Inside is a sprawling tableau of ICT experts, trainees and gadgets. Governor Abiodun said that the hub was conceptualised to make Ogun “the one-stop-shop for technological innovations across Africa where start-up companies will conveniently be set up. This step is firstly a result of the collaboration of tech enthusiasts and private sector players largely independent of our government.” Essentially, the Ogun Tech Hub and STEM is a grand step geared towards fostering creativity and achievement of purpose for technologists, social entrepreneurs, tech companies, impact investors, and even ethical hackers and governments around Ogun State. The Hub will also serve as a knowledge platform where citizens can connect, share, build new skills and competencies to solve local challenges that improve the quality of life of Nigerians.
BEHOLD, THE LARGEST INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY (ICT) CENTRE IN ANY NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY
On the hallowed academic grounds of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, an enduring monument for educational purposes reputed as the largest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre in any Nigerian university; has sprung up. The multi-purpose complex sits 3,000 persons at a time and is fitted with all the gizmos that make reading profound and pleasurable. There are also computers, printers, free Wi-Fi facilities and training programmes required to make learning and teaching easier for researchers and staff of the university. The complex was commissioned in February.
REBUILDING THE IJEBU-EPE ROAD FOR EASE OF TRAFFIC AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
For many years, the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road had been in a state of disrepair leading to abandonment by commuters. Successive administrations in the state only mouthed reconstructing it but never made good their words. Weeks back, Governor Abiodun turned the sod on the very important road, saying, “One of our promises was to provide infrastructure in all parts of our state. In the course of our campaign, I made a promise that our administration will rehabilitate and reconstruct the Ogun end of the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road to bring succour to our people and engender the economic development of our state.”
The dual carriage road is planned to have 10 lanes – four on each side with one pull-out section while there would be a toll plaza comprising 14 payment points. Aside from easing traffic on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the road would bring relief to commuters and indigenes, engender the socio-economic growth of the state and save Nigerians valuable time in traffic. Governor Abiodun said that the project was necessary as it would be an easy link to Lagos, thus improving the economic and social well-being of those in the axis.
When we got there Wednesday, March 11th afternoon, work was going on at fever pitch. Craneburg Construction Ltd, a leading civil engineering company, was fully on the ground with men and heavy-duty machinery.
‘OKO- OWO DAPO’ – THE EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE THAT HAS BOOSTED SMES IN OGUN
Launched in September 2019, about four months into his administration, the Oko-owo Dapo is an empowerment initiative to provide funds to women who are involved in legitimate SMEs across the state. It also aims to enhance trade as well as micro, small and medium scale enterprises. 2000 women benefitted in the first phase of the initiative as it is envisaged to reach at least 100,000 women in the first year of the Abiodun-administration. Beneficiaries could be market women, politicians, members of women’s societies, religious associations or trade associations. The governor revealed that the initiative is a social intervention programme borne out of the passion to make life better for Ogun people.
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES AND YOUTH EMPOWERMENT: THE JOB PORTAL TRUMP CARD
One of the earliest initiatives that pleasantly amazed many in the state was the launch of the Ogun Job Portal, which aimed to tackle the scourge of unemployment by linking the state’s unemployed youths with matching job opportunities in the labour market. Describing the job portal as one of the initiatives that would take the good people of Ogun State out of unemployment while also bettering the career chances of the employed, Governor Abiodun said that the portal is particularly suited to prepare the people to fit into appropriate sectors while revitalising all the sectors of the state’s economy. To underscore his seriousness in this regard, one of the earliest appointments Governor Abiodun made was that of Olalekan Olude, an award-winning entrepreneur, co-founder of Jobberman Limited, the leading job site in sub-Saharan Africa and founding partner of the African Talents Company in South Africa. Olude is also the co-founder and Executive Director at Rovedana Limited, a business process outsourcing company that provides employment to more than 2000 Nigerians across different industries and specialises in upscaling and placing them into employment with over 100 companies.
ENHANCING SECURITY FOR ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
Security is integral to the prosperity and growth of any state or nation. And Governor Abiodun is blithely aware of this. He did promise at the outset of his administration that he would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the state maximised its potential to the fullest by creating an enabling environment for residents and prospective investors. Firstly, he inaugurated the Security Trust Fund committee headed by Bolaji Balogun, Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Denham, one of Nigeria’s pre-eminent investment banking firms, to source funds for the acquisition and deployment of security equipment, personnel gear and other resources necessary to prevent crime and preserve public peace in Ogun State.
The committee is also to promote the synergy of all security agencies in the state and mobilise support in cash or kind from public and private sources in a transparent and accountable manner. Secondly, the governor signed into law the State Security Trust Fund Bill. Thirdly, he procured 100 Patrol Vehicles and 200 Bikes to aid the activities of law enforcement agents in the state while reiterating his support for efforts and ideas that would make Ogun a crime-free state. Just recently, the governor also signed into law the creation of the Western Nigeria Security outfit, Operation Amotekun.
INFRASTRUCTURAL REJUVENATION AND REBUILDING: THE ESTABLISHMENT OF OGUN STATE PUBLIC WORKS AGENCY
To serve as a quick fix mechanism to address the deplorable condition of the township and rural roads in the state, Governor Abiodun established the Ogun State Public Works Agency because, “Infrastructure, for us, is key to development. We have been able to demonstrate a commitment to the continued socio-economic development of our dear state, particularly in education, health, infrastructure and other key sectors that have a direct and positive impact on our people.
“You will recall that we requested that our people should select roads that should attract immediate attention in each of the 236 wards across our dear state. These roads are receiving an immediate intervention. This is in addition to government’s identified projects that will be spread across the three senatorial districts of our dear state.”
As our team went around the state that Wednesday, it was evident that the agency is proving to be efficient and responsive in rehabilitating roads.
WATER FOR ALL IN OGUN
The bucolic community of Arakanga in Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state is home to the Ogun State Water Corporation. Alas, even people in that community suffer from water scarcity as much as people in urban areas like the state capital, Abeokuta.
Governor Abiodun would discover on assumption of office that potable water was scarce in many homes around Abeokuta and beyond. For a governor who believes that water is not only an essential commodity but a right to which people should not be denied, he didn’t see why the situation should persist regardless of the challenges. Thus, he embarked on an assessment tour of the water corporation where he was confronted with the state of disuse of the corporation, which has a pumping capacity of 103.68 million litres per day. There, the governor announced that water would not only be restored, he ordered the prompt repair and restoration of faulty transformers in the corporation.
As our team moved around the state, the story was different; availability of water was the song on virtually everybody’s lips. What changed within months? Governor Abiodun!
HOW GOVERNOR ABIODUN IS COMBATTING THE CORONA-VIRUS SCOURGE – A VISIT TO OLABISI ONABANJO UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL, SAGAMU
With the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease, COVID-19, across the world; and the fears that Nigeria stands susceptible, Governor Abiodun has been widely praised for his proactive efforts in putting a rein on its outbreak in the state. Lagos is Africa’s most populous city and Ogun is its closest neighbour.
When the Italian index patient was discovered in Lagos and possible contacts traced to Ogun State, Governor Abiodun rose to the occasion by informing the public that the 28 people who had contact with the Italian have been identified and quarantined and that the firm where he visited in Ewekoro has also been shut down. The 28 people were identified after the state government conducted a contact tracing through the Disease Surveillance Notification Centres (DSNC) set up in all 20 local government areas of the state.”
The OOUTH has been designated and empowered specifically to be a DSNC in the case of an outbreak. The plan was for our team to see if we could get within shouting distance of the DSNC but as it was running late, and with no one to take us there, we took our leave but not without being shown some ongoing projects within the hospital.
THE PEACEMAKER AND PACIFIST
Even when politicking was rife with hate and propaganda, Governor Abiodun never returned fire for fire or wavered in his adoption of soft power – that sheer ability not to use force or coercion for political gain when you can shape the dissidents or opposition’s long-term attitudes and preferences by tact and diplomacy. And it is working perfectly for him. Perhaps seeing the enviable and exciting direction Governor Abiodun is steering the ship of state, a coalition of opposition members formally declared for the All Progressives Congress, APC. Some of the notable defectors include Chief Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI), the gubernatorial candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the March 2019 governorship election in the state; Mrs Salmot Badru, a former deputy governor under the Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration; Joju Fadairo, former state chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Chief Iyabo Apampa, former PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) member; Hon. Ayo Odugbesan, former Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly; and Hon. Dave Salami, a two-time member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the PDP, among others. Opposition members like Ladi Adebutu, former Governor Gbenga Daniel and Senator Buruji Kashamu have openly embraced the governor.