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Dapo Abiodun: Giant Strides Of Mr Talk And Do

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Dapo Abiodun: Giant Strides Of Mr Talk And Do

May 12
17:39 2021

 

Governor Dapo Abiodun is so busy doing his job that he hardly has time to be political in the otherwise slippery political terrain of Nigeria. Yes, he is a politician but, not that kind of dyed-in-the-wool politician. He is the master ofsoft 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. What is even more extraordinary about him, sources conversant with happenings in Ogun State say, is his ability to defy the centrifugal forces pulling politicians across the state and beyond into warring camps. He is accustomed to staying above the fray while steadily and silently putting in the works. Amid the extraordinary challenges and uncertainties wrought by the immediate impact of the corona virus pandemic, many governors and political leaders are under pressure to deliver on their mandate. Governor Abiodun is no exception. However, his unyielding commitment to building a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable society has separated him from the pack as he quickens his pace and doubles his efforts in all areas of the state’s life. From infrastructure to social welfare, agriculture and education, Governor Abiodun has raised the bar within two years

STRIDES IN AGRICULTURE
Across the world, it is held fervently that agriculture is the greatest and fundamentally the most important of all industries. Agricultural growth is a proven driver of poverty reduction. Governor Abiodun believes so too, and he has continued to invest massively in it. Across the world, it is common knowledge that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is an unabashed and very successful farmer. He knows a passionate investor and believer in the potency of agriculture to eradicate poverty and boost the socio-economic well-being of a people. It did came as a shock, therefore, that last December, the former President, during the inauguration of his Agbeloba Aquaculture Hub in Owiwi, Ewekoro Local Government Area of the state, exalted Abiodun for all his initiatives in the area of agriculture and encouraged him not to relent. The governor must have really impressed the lifelong farmer. Indeed, the Abiodun administration has recorded many achievements in agriculture, noteworthy, the launch of the Anchor Borrowers Programme in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

A poverty-eradicating initiative that provides inputs, service support and training required for farmers through a single-digit loan and guaranteed off-taker, the ABP idea is in fulfilment of Abiodun’s promise to increase food production and create employment opportunities for Ogun people especially youth and women involved in agriculture and create another avenue to boost the nation’s self-sufficiency in food production.

There is the Ogun Broiler Project, which provides day-old chicks, feeds, inputs and training to young farmers and buys the chickens after six weeks. Beneficiaries of the scheme make a profit of about N130, 000 in each six-week cycle. There are also the Joint Ogun State and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Value Chain Project, which is ongoing across many LGAS; and the FADAMA Graduate Unemployed Youths Scheme (GUYS), which credited, at the outset, 200 beneficiaries with a total grant of over N74Million with varying individual amounts depending on the chosen agricultural enterprise including cultivation of cassava, maize, rice, yam and vegetables as well as the rearing of poultry, fisheries, piggery, snailry, large ruminants and agro-processing, among others.

Within one year in office, the state government had constructed four solar-powered boreholes to make a total of 11 of the type, resulting in 2,500 beneficiaries of the Ogun State Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) having access to safe drinking water. By February 2021, another batch of 18 communities in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area was provided with Solar Powered Boreholes, to boost water supply at the grassroots which amounted to 31 communities that have benefitted from such gesture. The state government also partnered with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to distribute improved varieties of plantain, banana, and pineapple to 100 farmers as a way to promote increased productivity of farmers.

In recognition of these agricultural policies and programmes, BusinessDay Nigerian Business Leadership Awards acknowledged Ogun State’s meritorious commitment to enterprise with two awards – Most Improved State on Security Infrastructure 2019 (based on “100 Days” Parameters), and Most Improved State on Agriculture and Economic Empowerment 2020. “Our investments in security, agriculture and business cannot go unnoticed, but we will continue to do more for the welfare of the people and the state,” said the governor who had, last December, been awarded the Governor of the Year at the Nigeria Agriculture Awards 2020 held at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.

Instructively, Governor Abiodun’s governance roadmap is anchored on the ISEYA acronym (meaning Infrastructure, Social Welfare and Wellbeing, Education, Youth Development, and Agriculture and Food Security) and those sectors brim with visible and invaluable interventions by the governor.

ENTERS, MR ROADS
Having constructed and completed over 172 kilometres of roads and rehabilitated over 120 kilometres across the length and breadth of Ogun State within two years of his administration, it beggars no questioning that Governor Abiodun was nicknamed ‘Mr Roads’. At the outset of his administration, he disclosed that as a quick-fix mechanism to address the deplorable condition of roads in the state, the Ogun State Public Works Agency was established. Between then and now, several intra-city roads are being rehabilitated or freshly constructed because of the governor’s belief that motorable roads are a boost for economic activities. He recently commissioned the new 10.25km Lusada-Igbesa Road done by the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone in partnership with the state government. He also flagged off the reconstruction of the 19km Atan-Lusada-Agbara Road in Ado-Odo Ota Local Government Area. The 7.65km road is an inherited project that his administration resolved to take over and complete for its projected impact on the movement of goods and persons, and joint economic growth.

According to Governor Abiodun, “No doubt, the construction of 10.25kilometre Lusada-Igbesa road in partnership with the Ogun Guandong 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-Agbararoad and the Lusada-Igbesa Free Trade Zone road will complement each other for the full benefits of our people.”

While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for the prompt approval of the request for the transfer of the rehabilitation, reconstruction and maintenance of Atan-Lusada-Agbara road to the state, he said that his administration decided to embark on its reconstruction to give succour to the residents and industries along the axis. He assured that the road will be completed in 15 months and that all the roads leading to industrial areas and farm settlements in the state will be prioritised to boost economic growth and development. Describing his administration as a season of project completion in Ogun State, Governor Abiodun said that the expanded 2.5km Elite-Oke Lantoro joins the current set of roads ready for asphalting and that it will be delivered very soon with walkways and covered drainage. The alternative road, he added, will not only ease congestion at IyanaMortuary but also improve accessibility to its host communities.

Significantly, the very essential Ijebu-Ode – Epe Road, a major link between Ogun and Lagos States and an alternative to the busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway, which had been in a state of disrepair leading to abandonment by commuters for several years, is now nearing completion. Some days back, pictures of the current state of the project were splashed on the governor’s social media pages and captioned; ‘Traffic staging along new interchange under construction at the intersection of Ijebu Ode-Epe and Sagamu-Benin Expressways.’ The governor stated, “The 14km Ijebu Ode-Epe Road construction project is 90% completed while the interchange, which was awarded late last year, is 40% done. The road is significant to the joint economic development of Ogun State as a whole because it will open doors to further industrialisation, more employment opportunities, and ease of goods movement.”

But for the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirement for physical distancing, Governor Abiodun noted that some of the roads would have been completed thus, bringing relief to the people who commute on these roads on daily basis, either to go to work or to journey to neighbouring states. Unlike his peers in other states, who stifle their domains, like Victorian overlords trampling the peace and shoots of genius without a care in the world, Governor Abiodun understands that good governance goes beyond providing infrastructure and enabling growth across all spheres.

OGUN AS AN INDUSTRIAL HUB
There was no ambiguity in a recent Businessday Newspaper with the screaming headline; ‘Investors Dump Lagos as Ogun Becomes (the) New Industrial Hub.’ The report stated that direct investors have shunned Lagos State, preferring to set up factories in neighbouring Ogun State with its considerably cheaper doing business environment. In its analysis of data provided by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the report stated that Ogun dwarfs Lagos in new real sector investments by 23 per cent, especially between 2014 and2019.

“The elephant in the room is the constant harassment of corporate organisation in Lagos by touts unleashed by local governments to collect multiple taxes and levies,” noted the report, which added that in a December 2019 investigation by the newspaper, it discovered that micro, small and medium businesses paid 13 different levies and taxes in Mushin, Oshodi and Ikeja Local governments in Lagos ranging from television and radio tax to local government levy for hawkers and Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA, fees among others.

It added that investors complain that traffic and Apapa port congestions in Lagos make the movement of trucks and lives difficult while the land tenure system in Lagos has been tougher, 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. BusinessDay analysis shows that while Lagos got 27.67 per cent of the total investments, Ogun got 50.16 per cent, an indication that the state is now Nigeria’s industrial hub. Thirty-four states and Federal Capital territory shared the remaining 22.17 per cent, reflecting their unattractiveness to investors.

In the report under review, Ambrose Oruche, acting director-general of MAN, said, “Manufacturers and other investors have more room for expansion in Ogun than Lagos. Secondly, there are fewer taxes and levies in Ogun and thirdly, the Ibadan DisCo is a little bit better in electricity supply than Ikeja and Eko DisCo (both in Lagos).” He pointed out that Ogun’s proximity to Lagos had also provided an advantage with the state leveraging opportunities in Lagos’ weaknesses. Indeed, Ogun State has some comparative advantages highlighted by Oruche and which had been explored by previous administrations. But nothing beats experience.

Perhaps because he came into governance as a manifestly successful businessman with over three decades calling the shots in different multi-national boardrooms, it was seamless, almost effortless, for Governor Abiodun to initiate far-reaching economic reforms that have consolidated the state’s position as Nigeria’s number one industrial hub. He had noted at the outset that the vision of his administration was to give the state focused and qualitative governance and create an enabling environment for Public-Private Sector Partnership that would be fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and individual prosperity for the people of the state.

Some of the reforms that quickly set him apart include the establishment of the State Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), which aims to strengthen Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and boost their capacities; the Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency set up to provide a one-stop-shop and eliminate unnecessary delays in processing necessary documents; and the Public-Private Office established to ensure that the state has a transparent and accessible template. Governor Abiodun said, “We appreciate the fact that to keep our vision is to have a focused and qualitative governance while creating an enabling environment for a Public-Private Practice (PPP) sector, which we believe is fundamental to the economic growth of this state and individual prosperity. A lot of emphases are being put on the Public-Private Partnership (PPP). And to encourage Public Private Practice (PPP), you must have the right infrastructure. The issue of rural and township road is just a matter of infrastructure.”

HOUSING
In the area of housing, Governor Abiodun is also making impressive strides. He has promised to deliver 2,500 affordable housing units, some of which have been completed. Also, structures are already being erected in the 200-unit social housing project of the Ogun State Government in Sagamu. The first phase of the project, which the governor recently inspected, will deliver 100 units.

The project complements those in Kemta, Kobape and Oke-Mosan which are now nearing completion. He said, “As we have in our housing blueprint, the scheme is being extended to Ota (200 units), Ilaro (100 units), and other areas of the state, where preliminary works have already started. Final details are now being put to structures in the King’s Court Estate we are constructing in Abeokuta. The housing project being handled by the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation, OPIC is intended for middle-class income earners. At the same time, we are almost done with Phase 2 of Prince Court, Kemta and we are taking this initiative to Ota, Ilaro, Sagamu, Ikenne and Ijebu-Ode as a follow-up to the one we are presently building in Kobape, Abeokuta.”

 

RESTORING THE GLORY DAYS OF EDUCATION IN OGUN STATE
If Ogun State was hitherto known for being among the best in Nigeria educationally, that had changed over time due to neglect and lack of proper funding. Starting with a 20% increase in budgetary allocation, Governor Abiodun has unleashed his ingenuity to bring back the lost education glory of the state. At the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, the state government has completed and commissioned the largest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre in any Nigerian university. The multi-purpose complex sits 3,000 persons at a time and is fitted with all the gizmos – computers, printers, free Wi-Fi facilities e.t.c – that make reading profound and pleasurable. There are also training programmes required to make learning and teaching easier for researchers and staff of the university.

At the Ogun State Institute of Technology, Igbesa, the governor recently commissioned a 2, 000 capacity twin lecture theatre, remodelled the 1, 500 capacity multi-purpose hall; and refurbished and equipped its ICT centre. In the period under review, the governor has offered automatic employment to the best graduating students in institutions like the OOU, Tai Solarin College of Education and the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro.

Due to the COVID-19-induced school break, the state government introduced Digiclass, which aims to provide digital education to students in primary and secondary schools. Described as the first of its kind in Nigeria, Governor Abiodun said, “We plan to improve the development of the human capital through greater investment in qualitative education by harnessing innovative and creative strategies for qualitative, accessible and equitable Universal Basic Education for all children of Primary and Junior Secondary ages through (the) Universal Basic Education Act.”

Prior, he had made free education mandatory for pupils in primary and secondary schools who had been subjected to paying indiscriminate fees and levies over the years. This declaration put an immediate end to the N3, 700 levied on students as adopted by the former administration. Also, the Abiodun administration has embarked on the rehabilitation of public schools across the 236 wards in the state while creating a mouth-watering reward system for teachers in both private and public schools.

Recently, the governor gleefully announced, “We trained more than 2500 teachers on Python and Intro to AI in Ogun State! With this training, our STEM educators in Ogun State are empowered to raise the next GEN of AI talents and prepare them for the future of work.”

Other achievements recorded in the area of education include the renovation and reconstruction of 95 public schools fitted with modern corrugated roofs, furniture, halls and modern toilet facilities across the three senatorial districts; capacity building for teaching and non-teaching corps; resolution of industrial crises in the sector; and the appointment of digitally-compliant teachers; and motivation of existing corps of teachers with timely promotions and introduction of ICT into the teaching-learning process among others.

SOCIAL WELFARE AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Beyond physical projects, some of Governor Abiodun’sinitiatives aim to empower the people and make life better for them, which was why he launched, in September 2019, the Oko-owo Dapo, an empowerment initiative to provide funds to women who are involved in legitimate SMEs across the state. The initiative also aims to enhance trade as well as micro, small and medium scale enterprises. More than 2000 women benefitted in the first phase of the initiative projected to reach at least 100,000 women in the first year of the Abiodun administration.

Beneficiaries include market women, politicians, and members of women’s societies, religious associations or trade associations. And to reduce the unemployment rate in the state, Governor Abiodun created the Ogun Job Portal, which links Ogun’s unemployed youths with matching job opportunities in the labour market. He described the job portal as one of the initiatives that would take his people out of unemployment, better the career chances of the employed and prepare them to fit into appropriate sectors of the state’s economy.

Within his first year in office, the governor created the Ogun Tech Hub and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) Centre, which serves as a knowledge platform where citizens connect, share, build new skills and competencies to solve local challenges that improve the quality of life of Nigerians. It was conceptualised, according to Governor Abiodun, “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.”

SECURITY
Mindful of the fact that security is integral to the prosperity and growth of any state or nation,

Governor Abiodun promised 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. A while back, the governor also signed into law the creation of the Western Nigeria Security outfit, Operation Amotekun and at its inauguration, provided the outfit with vehicles, motorcycles, communication gadgets, technical back-ups and the political will for an effective take-off and efficient operation.

HEALTH
Unarguably, it is in the area of health that Governor Abiodun has shown class, courage and compassion. Despite recording the index case of the COVID-19 in Nigeria, the state government responded swiftly by converting some existing underutilized or moribund facilities to health facilities, which helped to expand and improve the standard of the available health facilities in the state. It also established, namely, five treatment and isolation centres for COVID-19 patients at Ikenne, Sagamu and Abeokuta, facilities that will also be valuable in the treatment of other infectious diseases; a Molecular Laboratory at the OOUTH, which is the first Molecular Laboratory solely funded by a state in Nigeria, with capacity for 150 tests a day; and the first COVID-19 Mobile Laboratory in Nigeria with the capacity to run 450 tests a day is now located at the intended 250-bed hospital at Abeokuta. With the Molecular Laboratory, the state now has a combined daily testing capacity of about 600; and the provision of COVID-19 drive-through and walk-in testing centres that are equipped with a specially-designed protective glass enclosure that prevents the medical personnel collecting samples from getting infected. When the federal government announced a lockdown of some states, the Ogun State government put in place a robust palliative package, which Abiodun said would cushion the adverse socio-economic effects of the lockdown directive on his people. The packages, delivered to 500, 000 homes with an average of four persons each in the first phase, contain staple food, anti-bacteria soap bars, detergents and hand sanitizers, which were produced by the State Ministry of Health to the World Health Organisation standard.

Giant strides were also recorded in other areas like the rehabilitation of two General Hospitals in Ijaye, Abeokuta; and Ilaro; the on-going rehabilitation of 236 Primary Healthcare Centres; recruitment of medical officers – resident doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in various cadres into the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu; immunisation of almost 1.3 million children against polio, an approximately 33% increase from the total recorded number in the previous year; provision of life-saving intervention to 8,000 women during the Maternal and Child Health Week; and regular medical outreach offering free medical examination including free eyeglasses, immunisation, blood pressure and sugar level checks, Hepatitis counselling and vaccination.

In the period under review, there was an upgrade of selected state 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 includes 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 a logistics truck just to mention a few; and 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.

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Mujeeb

Mujeeb

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