The Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, is about to complete his first tenure and he is waiting to take yet another oath of office for a second term come Monday, May 29, 2023. No doubt, his re-election was a hard-fought battle but he won convincingly. And as the nation is set to witness the birth of a renewed hope with the scheduled inauguration of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on May 29, it is imperative to appeal to all the stakeholders in the state to shun the political bickering of the recent past and join hands with the administration for the delivery of more dividends of democracy. To begin with, the victory recorded by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last general election could not have come without the support of the well-meaning citizens of the state. But it doesn’t end there. There is still an enormous task ahead. So, to nurture the developmental agenda of the new administration to fruition, more needs to be done in terms of collective effort as well as ownership of the process. In his renewed quest for support, Governor Abiodun is not coming with an empty hand.
Already, he has a full-packed scorecard of his first term to justify the request. Coming into the office for his second tenure, he has promised not to rest on his oars. After all, hard work does not kill, it promotes. Despite the gargantuan existential challenges that almost rendered the global economy prostrate, Nigeria inclusive, there are visible achievements scattered out there to justify the confidence reposed in him both in his first term and now in his re-election. Let’s take the stock. When people are healthy the nation is wealthy. Governor Abiodun places a high premium on quality and accessible healthcare delivery. A clear testimony to this is the emergence of Ogun State as the second best in basic healthcare delivery in South-West at the maiden Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum (NGF) Primary Healthcare Leadership Challenge Award with a $400,000 UNICEF prize.
The award ceremony was a follow-up to the 2019 Seattle Declarations, involving the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, the Bill and Melinda Foundation as well as the Dangote Foundation with an innovative idea about how to increase the commitment of governors to health care delivery across the 36 states of the federation.
Under the initiative, the declaration adopted the government’s support and commitment, quality of service delivery, improvement in the healthcare indices and outcomes, and community participation, among other variables, as the basic criteria for the award. Ogun State under the watchful eyes of Governor Abiodun passed the test of scrutiny and walked away with an award plaque and a handsome sum of money. The award plaque and cheque were received on behalf of the state government by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, at an event which was attended by the Country’s Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, who made the official presentation of the award, officials of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), representatives of international agencies and government top functionaries.” Beyond the award, the performance of the Abiodun administration on accessible healthcare delivery services remains unequal and unparalleled.
To the credit of the present government, all the state hospitals across the three senatorial districts have been rehabilitated. At the same time, some new structures are being constructed or old buildings renovated at the state-owned teaching school, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu. The government has also gone further to buy new equipment for the institution and employed well over 200 medical personnel, doctors, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, and others to fill in the vacuum created by the mass exodus of medical personnel who had embarked on the brain-drain syndrome to the Uk, Europe, and America. Again, it will be recalled that the state had only five functional ambulances for the entire 20 Local Government Areas of the state when this government came into power on May 29, 2019. With the renewed commitment of the Abiodun administration, 35 additional ambulances have been purchased, making a total of 40 available for emergency services. Added to that, various Primary Healthcare Centres across the state have been rehabilitated with the recruitment of more medical personnel to fill the vacant positions.
Other critical areas of intervention include training of health workers on comprehensive screening for newborns to tackle sickle cell disease, launching of National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) in order to reduce the burden of hypertension amongst the adult population in the State, registration of 20,000 vulnerable into the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, the establishment of a family Planning Centre at State Hospital, Ijebu Ode to improve Family Planning uptake in women aged 15-49years old, disbursement of funds to 196 Primary Health Care Centres across the 20 LGAs for the implementation of Basic Health Care Provision Fund activities in Ogun State, distribution of 22 Tricycle Ambulances to improve the health indices of citizens to put an end to maternal deaths and other health emergencies as well as commissioning of the fully equipped intensive care unit of the General Hospital, Ijebu-Ife, with the support of the Government of Czech Republic.
At the inception of this administration, several abandoned road projects embarked upon by his predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun, were inherited. Upon assumption of duty, Governor Abiodun took up the challenge and worked assiduously to complete all such abandoned projects dotting the entire state, including the flyovers in Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Igbo, Sagamu, and Sango-Ota, among others Today, most of these projects have been completed and delivered, while work is still ongoing on a few others that are yet to be commissioned. At present, not less than 80 major roads and 120 others have been constructed, reconstructed, or rehabilitated amounting to 661.76km, and 99.125km, while 562.63km are ongoing across the three senatorial districts of the state.
It is particularly noteworthy to state that 65 percent of the projects in each zone were based on people’s requests.
In spite of its avowed commitment to infrastructural development, people’s welfare remains the centerpiece of government’s policy. Since he came into office, Governor Abiodun has made regular payments of workers’ salaries and gratuities of pensioners a top priority of his government. It is on record that over N70 billion has been released for the payment of gratuity arrears since he assumed office in 2019, while the administration has equally increased the quarterly payment to defray outstanding gratuities from N500m to N600m.
It is also to the credit of the Abiodun administration that Ogun State has been rated the third largest economy in the country with enhanced capacity for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), coming only after Lagos, FCT, and Rivers. An analysis of the recent statistics further shows that Lagos has the highest IGR, followed by the FCT, Rivers, and Ogun states respectively.
Another report by the World Bank also places the State in a prime position in the ease-of-doing-business index, ranking 3rd among the states of the federation in its latest report. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ogun State currently stands as the 5th top destination of capital investment in Nigeria, coming behind Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory, Abia, and Niger. At present, Ogun State is the home of the largest manufacturing companies in the West Africa sub-region.
Human Capital Development is a major catalyst for industrial growth. Governor Abiodun has never let his guard down in ensuring that the education sector which gives the state a completive edge over other states is sustained. Thus, apart from the free education policy for all children in Primary and Junior Secondary Schools with adequate care for the welfare of teachers, there has also been a progressive increase in allocation to education up to 20 percent of this year’s budget with a commitment to continually do so till the United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) benchmark is achieved.
For the assurance of qualitative and accessible education, the government has given priority attention to the general rehabilitation of collapsing infrastructures that would serve the overall interest of the students in the state, regardless of their social status as against the Model school project embarked upon by the immediate past administration which was structurally defective and poorly funded. While the government has graciously converted some of the abandoned Model schools to other better purposes such as the Tech Hub on Kobape Road on the outskirts of Abeokuta and Ikenne 128-bed Isolation and Treatment Centre for COVID-19, the whopping sum of N218.380bn that would have been expended on completing the projects is now being diverted to the reconstruction or renovation of several public primary and secondary schools to provide a better learning environment in the state. This is particularly evident in the Yellow Roofs Revolution we now see all over our 1000 State-owned Primary and Secondary Schools in the state.
For the tertiary level of education, the administration has also shown with the reactivation of MAPOLY, Ojere, Abeokuta and the former Tai Solarin College of Education (now renamed after Oba SK Adetona College of Education), Omu-Ijebu which were hitherto comatose that education remains the major pride of Ogun State.
As a responsible government, peace, security, and adequate protection of lives and property have been parts of the cardinal agenda of the present administration from its inception. Apart from hundreds of patrol vehicles and communication gadgets purchased by the administration to strengthen the state’s security apparatus, Governor Abiodun has equally taken delivery of drones to assist the security agencies in the state to frontally deal with the challenge of kidnapping and other forms of criminalities.
In order to boast Agriculture, the administration of Governor Abiodun has entered into a strategic partnership with national and international development agencies. Already, over 400 private firms have signified interest to collaborate with Ogun State to provide Farm Mechanization Services, Input Service Delivery as well as the development of key value chains, including Cassava, Rice, Fish, Poultry, Cattle, Dairy, among other commodities.
Just a couple of days ago, Governor Abiodun recently hosted the biggest conglomerate owned by the Egyptian Government, National Service Project Organization, with the North African organization, expressing its readiness to invest in the agricultural sector of the state.
The leader of the conglomerate, General Walid Morsi, during the bilateral meeting with the Governor in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, declared that the organization would focus on the cultivation of food and cash crops which would be exported to his home country and other parts of the world.
“We are trying to make Egypt a hub in the Mediterranean Region and we are partnering with Nigeria in the area of agriculture where we can plant and process food and cash crops and send it to Egypt. This partnership would be of great benefit to Nigeria and Egypt”, Morsi said.
Governor Abiodun, in his response, assured them of the availability of arable land out of its more than 16,000, total land mass suitable for planting food and cash crops as well as an oceanic plentitude of highly skilled manpower. He explained further that his administration had embarked on the provision of infrastructure, security, and the implementation of the multi-modal transport system, including the International Agro Cargo Airport, to provide a conducive environment for investment.
Shortly before the governorship election, the state witnessed the first cargo flight at the Airport situated at Illisan. When successfully completed, possibly by the end of this year, according to projections, it will open a new vista of opportunity for economic and industrial transformation not only for Ogun State but the country at large.
His massive investment in an affordable housing scheme for the residents as well as investors operating in the state is also a talking point, culminating in the recent award of Best Award in Housing received by the State at the 2023 Merit Award organised by the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, having defeated Lagos, Edo, Kaduna, and Niger States. For the numerous housing projects undertaken by the administration, no fewer than 2,500 units located in four major zones of the State, including Egba, Ijebu, Yewa, and Remo, have been delivered. This is no mean feat. It is unprecedented in the 47-year history of the State.
Above all, the need to provide a safety net for the vulnerable segment of society has compelled the government to adopt the social investment programme of the Federal Government through the Executive Order recently signed by Governor Abiodun to alleviate poverty and hunger by ensuring equitable distribution of resources to the poor, the widows, amongst others. Today, Ogun State is one of the few states that have adopted the social investment programme of the Federal Government which is domiciled in the Ministry of Mininitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. The adoption followed the Executive Order recently signed by the Governor in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, to alleviate poverty and hunger by ensuring equitable distribution of resources to the vulnerable, the poor, and the widows, amongst others.
While it will be deceptive to say that the task ahead will be an easy walkover, but given the support of all and sundry, what we have seen so far will be the tip of the iceberg when the administration resumes for a second term on May 29.
- Ogbonnikan writes in from Abeokuta, Ogun State