When Prince Dapo Abiodun assumed the mantle of leadership on May 29, 2019, as the fifth democratically-elected governor of Ogun State, he was greeted with a barrage of challenges ranging from non-payment of salaries and wages to workers, to demoralised workforce, unfavourable business policies, complaints over multiple taxation and academic industrial disputes, demolition of traders’ shops, among others.
Written on the face of many concerned residents and indigenes was despair. The March 9, 2019 governorship contest was a battle royale between the Iperu-born Abiodun, and Adekunle Akinlade, the godson of the then outgoing governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
As a marked departure from the old order, Abiodun changed the narrative by driving the state with his development pillars, namely infrastructure development, social welfare and well-being, education and human capital, youth empowerment and agriculture and food security.
His first major pre-occupation was to better the lots of both civil and public servants, the engine room of the day-to-day business of governance. He made good his electoral promises.
Workers are being paid their salaries before the last working day of the month. It is a social contract with the workforce, and with pensioners. Between January and June this year, the government has paid the total sum of N5.017 billion to no fewer than 12,191 pensioners under the noncontributory pension scheme. Whether anybody like his face or style of administration or not, Abiodun has left no one in doubt about his competence and capability.
He honed his skills in the private sector background, a successful businessman versed in public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives. Abiodun is conscious of the benefits attached to the close proximity of Ogun State to Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of the country and the fifth largest economy in Africa.
He believes that if Lagos can be raking in nothing less than N32 billion as internally generated revenue (IGR) on a monthly basis, Ogun State, if not on the same pedestal, should rank next. Of late, in response to the effects of the COVID- 19 pandemic, the Abiodun-led administration offered tax reliefs to players in both the informal and formal sectors.
It is a known fact that Governor Abiodun thinks outside the box, unlike some of his colleagues who are virtually dependent on the Federation Account and bank loans for survival.
Abiodun believes in fostering the local economy. His major priority is in creating an enabling environment. How has he gone about that? He rolled out enablers to drive economy. Road infrastructure takes the centre-stage, connecting rural roads to urban centres for easy movement of people, farm produce, goods and services to other locations. In the last 15 months in office, the administration has reconstructed and rehabilitated no fewer than 50 roads spread across the three senatorial districts in the state.
A large proportion of these bad roads were inherited from the immediate past administration which initiated their construction, but subsequently abandoned them mid-way for no plausible reason. Yet, the former administration failed to complete the acclaimed “legacy projects” before leaving office on May 29, 2019, despite the much-touted mobilisation of the contractors by 100 per cent.
The state government has spent a sum total of N4.325 billion to reconstruct and rehabilitate 30 roads in the last six months, precisely between January and June this year. Notable among these is the 14.7-kilometre Ijebu-Ode/Epe road, which has become a veritable industrial corridor, as a result of the close proximity to Lagos.
The road Opinion that links the state with Lagos and the Eastern part of the country, is designed to bolster the economic potentials of Ogun. While unveiling the project recently, Governor Abiodun had noted that the “corridor, no doubt, will be a big economic haven.”
Contrary to the recent past practice whereby Chinese contractors were hired to fix the roads, local engineers are engaged to undertake the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the access and connecting damaged roads. This is to prevent capital outflows, promote indigenous skills and provide job opportunities for the teeming young graduates in the state.
Also, the reconstruction of the Abeokuta-Sagamu expressway is nearing completion. The reconstruction of the abandoned Agosasa-Odo Afa road in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state is underway. It began with the first phase which is focused on the Afa River: temporary measures have been taken to ensure the road is motorable during this rainy season, pending its completion.
Others are the reconstruction of the Owode-Ilaro road in Yewa South Local Government Area; the 4.65 kilometres Ojodu- Abiodun-Akute road in Ifo Local Government Area; the reconstruction of Oba Erinwole (ongoing) and Baruwa Street (completed), both in Sagamu town, Sagamu Local Government Area; the 4.7-kilometre Oru-Awa-Ilaporu road in Ijebu North Local Government which is 75 per cent completed; the three kilometres ongoing reconstruction of Awujale-Oke Ajestadium road in Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Ode Local Government.
We also have Atan-Lusada-Agbara road, in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area; Imowo-Ibadan road in Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Ode Local Government; Ilishan/Ago-Iwoye road, an access road linking the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, in Ijebu North Local Government; Akute-Ishasi-Denro through Alagbole-Ajuwon road, in Ifo Local Government Area; Alagbole-Yakoyo, also in Ifo Local Government and a host of others.
No section or zone is being neglected in the development plans. Abiodun has proved to be a true leader who believes in spreading growth and development across the state, regardless of which zone voted for him in the March 9, 2019 governorship election, religion, or political affinitiy. He has demonstrated his strong passion for even development, and this was reflected in the appointment of the staunch members of the opposition parties into boards, agencies and parastatals.
Meanwhile, housing which is one of the cardinal enablers of accelerated development was given priority attention with the take-off of the building of 150 of the 400 housing units at Prince Court Estate, Kemta, Abeokuta, the state capital, while efforts are also in the pipeline to replicate same in the two other districts (Ogun West and Ogun East).
The target is 2,000 housing units at affordable prices to the people of the state. Overall, the impetus put in place for accelerated industrial development and growth has started to pay off: scores of potential investors, almost on a daily basis, are thronging the state.
The state has become an investment destination. Kudos to Prince Abiodun and his economic team led by Dapo Okubadejo, Commissioner for Finance, who is also the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA). The giant strides are aimed at making the state an industrial haven.
Elegbede writes from Igan Alade, Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State.