Raising Performance Bar In Ogun
By Femi Ogbonnikan
There is no how the beautiful story of Ogun state can be told, in terms of the accelerated developmental projects, vis-a-vis good road network, security, job creation, affordable housing schemes, good healthcare delivery service, qualitative education, agriculture, trade and investment, amongst others that have impacted positively in the economic well-being of the citizens, without recourse to giving credit to the current administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun.
On its way to power in 2019, during the electioneering campaign, it had promised to make life better for the people of the state, refloat the economy, by widening the frontiers of trade and investment, through the provision of an enabling business environment, enhance political space and foster peace and harmony between and among the people. True to type, it has earned itself, “a promise-keeping administration” in the last two years, since its inception to power.
This is a rare feat in the chequered history of the state, since its creation on February 3, 1976, that any administration could deliver, within a space of two years, the speedy initiation and execution of projects, and provision of laudable programmes that have had direct and indirect positive impacts on its people.
His ascension to the throne, at that critical moment when morales of both the civil and public servants were at the lowest ebb, shortly after the exit of Senator Ibikunle Amosun from office, could be likened to the coming of the Biblical messiah to rescue the sinking ship. Upon his assumption of office on May 29, 2019, Abiodun did not betray the trust reposed in him. He has been walking the talk. Three days in office, he entered into a social contract with the workers of the state government and pledged the payment of their wages and salaries, with or without FAAC or JAAC, on/or before the last working day of every month, and it has come to stay. With effect from October 2020 salaries, the administration was magnanimous enough to commence the payment of the negotiated minimum wage of N30,500 to the workers, the highest of its kind in the entire southwest. Same goes to pensioners in the payment of their gratuities. As a standing order, the current administration, on a quarterly basis, has earmarked a sum of N500 million to defray inherited backlogs of the previous administration. Also, he had approved a monthly average payment of N791 million as pension for retired local government council workers and SUBEB retirees.
By and large, to discernible minds and political pundits, the secret behind these successes in every sector can be attributed to the mission-statement (roadmap) of the administration which is anchored on the acronym, ISEYA (Infrastructure, Social Welfare and Wellbeing, Education, Youth Development and Agriculture) and they form the most striking features with visible and invaluable interventions by the governor.
In its implementations, infrastructure has remained a centre-piece of the administration. It is a veritable tool for accelerating economic growth and development of the state.
In retrospect, a Business Day newspaper headline, “Investors Dump Lagos as Ogun Becomes (the) New Industrial Hub”, reinforced the new reality on ground as an investment destination of choice.
It added that the investors complain that traffic grid and Apapa Port Congestions in Lagos make the movement of trucks and lives difficult, while the land tenure system in Lagos has been tougher, thus, making business expansion onerous.
“Out of N3,353 trillion pumped in new investments in manufacturing and agro-processing sectors in six years, Lagos got N928.02 billion, while Ogun welcomed N1.682 trillion within the period”. The breakdown shows that Lagos received 27.67 percent of the total investments, while Ogun state got 50.16 percent, an indication that the state is now Nigeria’s industrial hub. Also, 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, shared the remaining 22.17 percent, thus, reflecting their unattractiveness to investors.
Meanwhile, within two years under review, Abiodun has raised the bar of performance with the reconstruction and completion of well over 270.88 kilometres of (34) road(s) and also, the rehabilitation of well over 322.637 kilometres of 41 roads across the length and breath of the state. As a quick-fix mechanism to address the inherited deplorable condition of roads, the establishment of the Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) was saddled with the responsibility of rehabilitating all existing roads that were competing for attention. It is the belief of the Governor that the rehabilitation of the several inner-city roads and freshly constructed ones are a boost for speedy economic activities.
At a recently commissioned 10.25 kilometre Lusada-Igbesa road undertaken by the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone, in partnership with the state government, Abiodun averred thus, “No doubt, the constitution of 10.25-kilometre Lusada-Igbesa road in partnership with the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone, Igbesa, is a commendable project. And we are happy to have the road commissioned, given its benefits for improved investments and individual prosperity of all the people in Igbesa, Lusada and adjoining towns in this area. But, as an adjoining road, it is important to note that the full benefits of this newly constructed road can be realised only when the Atan-Lusada-Agbara road is rehabilitated and reconstructed. That import is not lost on us. We have just performed the ceremony of the turn of the sod of the Atan-Lusada-Agbara road. All things being equal, the road will be completed soonest and both the Atan-Lusada-Agbara road and the Lusada-Igbesa Free Trade Zone will complement each other for the full benefits of our people”.
The unyielding commitment and resolve to building a more prosperous, equitable, just, inclusive, participatory and sustainable society of the Govenor is no exception. Also, security is an integral part to the prosperity and growth of any society.
In response to the wake of insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes in the country, the administration has left no stone unturned. A thriving business environment requires an enthronement of peace and tranquility to attract potential investors to open shops where their investments will be safe, protected and secured. On the strength of the State House of Assembly’s legislation that gave legal backing to the Ogun State Security Trust Fund (OGSSTF) chaired by Mr Bolaji Balogun, the administration has procured no fewer than 400 patrol vehicles, 200 powered-bikes, communications gadgets and other kits for effective patrol of all nooks and crannies of the state. Not left out, insurance packages and allowances for the operatives of the police and other sister agencies are motivational impetus to ginger the men to put in their best to police the state effectively, without let or hinderance. The recently inaugurated “Amotekun”, a south-west government’s security outfit, in the state, is a model that has contributed significantly to abate the orgy of kidnappings and other violent crimes that have been the order of the day. Through the intervention of the political will of the governor, police aerial patrol has complemented the efforts of the state government in the search-and-rescue operations of kidnapped victims, and the subsequent arrests of suspects, whenever the need arises.
As a popular saying goes, “Health is wealth”, it is an area that the administration has placed more premium, in terms of class, courage and compassion. Despite recording an index case of the COVID-19 in the country, the state government responded swiftly by converting some existing under-utilised or moribund facilities to health centres which helped to expand and improve the standard of the available health facilities. The procurement of a Molecular Laboratory equipment at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, the first Molecular laboratory solely funded by any state in the country, with a capacity for 150 tests per day. Giant strides recorded include the rehabilitation of all the General Hospitals spread across the state; the ongoing rehabilitation of 236 Primary Healthcare Centres in all the wards in the state; recruitment of well over 120 medical personnel-resident doctors, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, nurses and other healthcare professionals-in various cadres into the OOUTH, Sagamu; and immunization of almost 1.3 million children against polio. In the period under review, there were upgrades of some selected hospitals to provide the prevention of HIV from Mother-to-Child (PMTCT) and Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) services; purchase of a new collection of medical equipment which include a Dialysis machine; mobile digital x-ray machine; High-Resolution Ultrasound Machine; new intensive care beds, 12 new ventilators; eight CPAP machines; and the completion of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) floor of the 250-bed hospital at Abeokuta, with capacity for 18 available beds, eight of which are high dependency and 10 ICU.
Aside the inherited five functional Ambulances from his predecessor, Abiodun, through his vision to give the state a focused and qualitative governance, while creating an enabling environment for a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) sector to thrive, has received donations of additional 25 Ambulances, including three from BUA Group under the ASR Africa Initiative, to its fleet to provide emergency medical services.
Agriculture is a beacon of hope in the administration’s revolution of guaranteeing food security and employment generations for the teeming unemployed youths. It is also another source of generating internal revenues into the coffers of the state government. Agricultural growth is a proven driver of poverty reduction. Essentially, the administration has recorded a landmark achievements in agriculture, noteworthy, with the launch of the Anchors Borrower’s Scheme (ABP) in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It is a poverty-eradicating initiative geared towards providing inputs, service support and training required for farmers through a single-digit loan and guaranteed off-takers. Coming on stream is the Ogun Broiler Project which provides day-old chicks, feeds, inputs and training for young farmers. Also, the Joint Ogun State and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Value-Chain Project which is ongoing across the 20 Local Government Areas of the state. The FADAMA Graduate Unemployed Youths Scheme project is another milestone initiative which credited, at the outset, 200 beneficiaries, with a total grant of well over N74 million, with varying individual amounts, depending on the chosen agricultural enterprise, such as cultivation of cassava, maize, rice, yam and vegetables. On the aggregate, Ogun state is the largest producer in poultry farming, cart fish and cassava in the country. Recently, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) nominated the state to benefit from the Federal Government’s agricultural pilot programmes-Integrated Farm Estate, Garri Packaging Plant, training programme on soil testing and extension services for 200 young graduates in agricultural or science-related courses-aimed at further repositioning the state and the food basket of the nation. Similarly, 80,000 individuals have registered for the Agricultural Value Chain Opportunities in growing crops to meet up the demands of industries in the state. Crucial to the sector is the ongoing construction of an Agro-Cargo International Airport located at Ilishan-Remo in order to boost the transportation of farm produce from the farmers to the final market.
In the area of Housing, the administration is making impressive strides. At the inception, the Governor had promised to deliver 2,500 affordable housing units, some which have been completed. Besides, the structures are already being erected in the 200-unit social housing project in Sagamu (Ogun East). The project complements those located at Kemta, Kobape and Okemosan (all in Abeokuta, Ogun Central), while the scheme is also being extended in Ota (200 units), Ilaro (100 units) and other locations within the state.
Restoring the lost glory of the state which has produced great icons and pioneers is the commitment of the current administration. Ogun state is the educational capital of Nigeria, but hitherto, it lost its glory over time due to neglect and poor funding by the previous administration which paid lip service to the legacy. As a bailout, Abiodun approved a 20 percent increase in budgetary allocation; reconstruction of well over 100 schools; rehabilitation of well over 700 public schools (both primary and secondary), equipped with modern corrugated roofs, furniture, halls and toilet facilities across the 20 Local Government Areas; capacity building for teaching and non-teaching staff; resolution of industrial disputes in the sector; an approval for the release of the 2016/2017 promotion exercise in both primary and secondary schools; and the take-over of 28 community schools and as well, the absorption of 577 teachers in the affected schools into thr civil service structure.
Social Welfare and Youth Development takes a place of pride in the administration. Beyond physical projects, the governor has demonstrated his commitment in the empowerment of the people and also making life better for them.
Hence, sometime in September 2019, he launched an empowerment initiative tagged, “Oko-owo Dapo”, which is to provide funds for women who are involved in legitimate SMEs across the state. Also, he established the Ogun Tech Hub, a knowledge platform where youths can connect, share, and build new skills and competencies to solve local challenges that improve the quality of life of the people.
Job portal is an outsourcing novel initiative which has played a crucial role in the recruitment of well over 80,000 unemployed youths for companies in search of skilled labour. Not left out was the construction and commissioning of four new Fire and Emergency Stations in Ifo, Ado-Odo/Ota, Isheri.
However, the successes of the two-year landmark achievements can be attributed to the unyielding commitment of Mr Governor towards building a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable society that separates him from the pack and also prepares him to quicken the pace and redouble his efforts in all strata of life.
Ogbonnikan wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun state capital.