…it’s a game changer, says Osinbajo
“I would like to commend our futuristic, dynamic, innovative and digitally compliant Governor, His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun for this incredibly relevant initiative. By bringing last mile broadband access to homes, businesses and offices in Ogun State, you are opening up Ogun State residents and businesses digitally, not just across Nigeria, but to the entire universe”.
Those were the words of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) while commending foresightedness of the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, at the flag-off of the Ogun State Digital Economy Empowerment Project (OGDEIP) on Thursday, April 15, 2021.
While many states and other tiers of government are fearful of taking up the challenge, considering the risks and the financial implications involved, this is a task that Ogun State Government, under the leadership of the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has dared to undertake. Armed with the belief that opening up Ogun State economy to the world would transform the hitherto civil-service state into a world class mega city, Governor Abiodun had on assumption of office on May 29, 2019, rolled up his sleeves with a resolve to digitally revolutionise the state’s economy.
Consequently, machineries were set in motion to birth the new economy, leading to the conversion of one of the under-utilized buildings of the state’s model colleges into what is today known as Ogun TechHub. Prince Abiodun, knowing the importance of technology in the ease of doing business, decided to bring his wealth of private sector experience to bear on the public service. As a successful entrepreneur in the oil and gas business, the governor knows that the success of any business today, be it government or private, depends largely on Information Technology. Hence, the importance of linking the business of governance in Ogun State with the modern trend, leading to the creation of Adire Digital Market Place and Ogun Digital Class, among many others. Prince Abiodun had in November 2020 flagged off the Adire Digital Market at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, to the admiration of all while advocating the export of Nigeria’s indigenous fabrics to the other parts of the world.
A major question to ask, is: Had technology not been the bedrock of the Dapo Abiodun administration, how would the state government have coped with the multifaceted challenges that came with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and the EndSARS protests that grounded the nation’s economy in 2020? No doubt, the successful businessman came into public service prepared.
According to the Number-Two Citizen, “access to broadband and other technology tools have become compulsory for any community that seeks meaningful growth, prosperity and security for its people. Digital Technology is the future of all aspects of human existence. “It is to development today, what electricity was to development in the 19th and 20th century. Making it available to all our citizens and businesses is the most farsighted action any government can take today”.
Showing his acceptability of the programme and the support for the political will of the governor, the Vice President did not only commend the efforts of the governor, he also displayed with pride, his citizenship of the Gateway State. He said: “Today is one of my proudest days as a citizen of Ogun State, because today, Ogun State has taken the leadership in digital technology in Nigeria by this first-of-its-kind massive investment in the digital infrastructure in our great State.
“We are not just talking about the future, its challenges and opportunities, we are, by the launching of the Ogun State Digital Economy Empowerment Project (OGDEIP), taking hold of the future and we are set to define it in our own terms”,
he noted. While further declaring the state a major global hub in the emerging digital economy, Osinbajo praised the governor and his team for the judicious Investment in the right infrastructure, noting that the Federal Government recognizes the fact that internet access and broadband communication will help the country in determining its competitiveness in the global economy.
“Bridging the digital divide in the state will begin to improve education outcomes and provide opportunities for improved access to education across the state starting from primary to the tertiary level. The digital revolution that this project will bring will be a game-changer in every aspect, not just the socio-economic life of the state”, he asserted.
On his part, the visibly elated Governor Abiodun did not mince words to let the public know that ICT accounts for more than 21 per cent of Ogun State Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and that it has provided countless job opportunities for the growing educated and creative citizenry.
Abiodun noted that his administration was aware of the many advantages the people have continued to reap since the introduction of a digital economy, insisting that it is an important aspect of the ‘Building our Future Together Agenda’ in Ogun State.
Noting that digital economy infrastructure, being the backbone for ICT revolution, has continued to provide job opportunities for the growing educated and creative citizenry, the governor said the launch would further enhance the ease of doing business in the state while revealing that ICT will continue to account for a major size of the state’s GDP.
Abiodun said: “Since our administration came on board in May 2019, we have continued to demonstrate our commitment towards developing the ICT industry for the continued growth and expansion of all sectors of the economy. The fact is that developing and leveraging digital resources will provide us with a sure way to harness a globally competitive citizenry and economy in our dear state.
“This particular effort of our Administration of providing a digital economy in Ogun State will not only help to resolve many challenges, both human and economic, but also provide more opportunities to improve the people’s know-how, productivity and innovations as necessary for nurturing their potentials and the continued development of our state’s economy. “This is a joint project between our administration and our partner, 21st Century Technologies Limited, to deliver fibre-optic cables and mechanics across all our 20 Local Government Areas within the next two years.
“The first phase of OGDEIP will establish a fibre optic network ring around the entire State that will ensure connectivity particularly for key educational institutions, government agencies and residents in unconnected and underconnected areas”, the governor said. In the same vein, the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, who was represented by the Executive Vice Chairman, National Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the project was timely as it would create new economic opportunities and improve the lives of the people. He said the digital economy was widely acknowledged as one of the drivers of the world’s economy, as it helps in creating jobs, adding that it was one of the factors that helped the country exit recession.
As someone in the saddle, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Mr. Dayo Abiodun, said OGDIEP was a culmination of the ICT policy of the Abiodun administration to digitalise government activities by creating digital inclusion, provide tools and educa tion to empower the youths and business owners in Ogun State.
The traditional institution was not left out of the euphoria as many of the monarchs were very optimistic that the launch will bring a rebirth of the Gateway State.
The Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, who spoke on behalf of the traditional rulers, lauded the administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun for bringing advanced technology to the doorstep of people in the grassroots, while noting that Ogun Digital Economy would help in improving socio-economic lives of the people. With his presence, which lends credence to the support of the National Assembly, the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Hon. Abubakar Suleja, lauded Ogun State for being the first to achieve such a remarkable feat.
Assuring that his committee will encourage other states to emulate Ogun in order to benefit from the advantages that accrue front digital broadband, the lawmaker was optimistic that the new system would go a long way in creating opportunities for the youth and linking the state with the international community. Lending its voice to the project, 21st Century Technologies limited ((21CTL) which partners the state government to execute the programme, said the initiative would see the economy of Ogun state grow by additional $100 billion.
The Vice Chairman/CEO of the company, Wale Ajisebutu, who assured that the initiative would see all business sectors and citizens of Ogun state operate digitally, said the network infrastructure will facilitate GSM services, financial inclusion, data storage, development of innovative ideas by startups and universities.
“This would also enable industries while placing Ogun state in the heart of the 4th industrial revolution where science, technology and social media are rapidly transforming the world. The network infrastructure will facilitate GSM services, financial inclusion, data storage, development of innovative ideas by startups and universities.
“This would also place Ogun State in the heart of the 4th industrial revolution where science, technology and social media are rapidly transforming the world”, he said.