BY KEHINDE ONASANYA
It was indeed a new dawn in Ogun State on May 29, 2019 when the present administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun mounted the saddle of leadership of the State. Jubilations were rife just as the old and young, males and females alike felt the tingling of a new wave of breeze that swept across the state.
But the ecstasy came with immediate expectations from the government, which ab initio had already conceived a solid blueprint aimed at meeting the yearnings of the people under the new administration.
Before Governor Abioduns assumption of office, it was obvious that the State was in dire need of complete re-positioning in virtually all sectors- education, health, agriculture, human capital development, ICT, Sports, employment generation and youth empowerment, commerce and industry, security and crime prevention, among others. For instance, in the area of infrastructure, the unsatisfactory state of roads across the length and breadth of the State remained quite undesirable and the concerns of the people in this regard were well placed.
It was definitely not lost on Governor Abiodun that change management is one of the most intricate aspects of management, nay leadership, especially given the politicking that characterised the elections that threw him up as Governor. He must have read the minds of great thinkers of change management such as Christopher G. Worley, et al, who believed that changing the direction of an organization, be they government or business, could be quite harrowing because it involves changing management methods and strategies against the backdrop of the usual public resistance from some quarters
Recalling his inaugural speech, the Governor had said, inter alia, that: Our vision summarises the kernel of our Agenda; To give Ogun State focused and qualitative governance and to create the enabling environment for a public private sector partnership, which is fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and individual prosperity of the people of Ogun.
With a systematic approach to governance and within a space of few months, even the skeptics would agree that a new vista has indeed been opened as evidenced in the rapid transformation being witnessed in all spheres. Governor Abiodun had through his body language showed that great preference must be given to painstaking diligence in building a strong and formidable institution to allow the people enjoy enduring dividends of democracy, rather than embarking on quick fixes.
For instance, in the area of infrastructure , it was evidenced that the need to maximize the full benefits of government spending through meticulous planning and evaluation gave birth to the Public Works Department(PWD), As at today, the agency is solidly institutionalized and had touched no fewer than 37 roads in the 3 Senatorial districts of the State, comprising both States and Federal roads. In actual sense, the two major roads that connect Ogun with Lagos towards the densely populated Sango-Ota axis, namely the Raypower and Joju-Ikola roads were completely reconstructed by the State Government to alleviate the suffering of commuters in the area and also enhance the developmental efforts under the much envisioned mega city project.
Believing that the wealth of any society is dependent on the wellness of the citizenry, the administration places topmost value on facilitation of easy access to quality and affordable health care services. The focus on primary health care centers (PHC) as the nucleus of the health care delivery system include the promotion of preventive health care and free medical services across the three Senatorial Districts as part of efforts to promote preventive health care. The services offered includes blood pressure check, random blood sugar test, Hepatitis B screening, eye screening, immunization, family planning, consultation and health talk. The revamping of the health sector became inevitable due to the apparent rots inherited by the administration. Most of the State Hospitals were dilapidated, and only fits into the picture of mere glorified Clinics. The present administration has procured modern medical equipment for hospitals across the State while the State Hospital, Ilaro has bounced back to life. The Governor also moved in swiftly to salvage the ailing Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu from its comatose state by setting up a visitation panel, which has made recommendations, already being implemented to restore the fast fading glory of the Institution.
It is most disheartening that education which is the pivot of human capital development of the State was on the precipice and this was of utmost concern to Prince Dapo Abiodun who virtually declared a State of Emergency in the sector. From dilapidated structures in the primary and secondary schools, to the lingering crisis rocking some tertiary Institutions, especially, the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta and Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu, Ijebu, it was apparent that all was not well with the sector.
Happily, today, academic activities had commenced fully in the institutions while the season of matriculation and graduation ceremonies are back to the delight of students and parents. The on-going rehabilitation of primary school buildings in the 236 wards of the State, the approval of the release of letters of promotion for primary and Secondary school teachers for the year 2016/2017, the on-going employment of 1,500 primary school teachers and the various interventions/ funding of the educational Institutions are some of the cheering news, sparking hope in the sector.
The highly focused administration also absorbed 28 Community based secondary schools and in the process provided means of livelihood for over 578 teaching and non-teaching staff of those schools with the future of over 9000 students of the absorbed schools secured. The human capital development programme of the government was also given further impetus with the attendance of a training programme, in Dubai by some Secondary School Principals in the State, a development which the State President of ANCOPSS, Dr (Mrs) Ayodele Womiloju described as a step in the right direction
The ICT revolution in the state has also underscored the determination to berth a centre of excellence which will contribute significantly to research, learning and innovation through provision of broadband connectivity and strategic alliances. The Ogun TECH HUB provided a ready answer to this drive. Prince Dapo Abioduns administration embarked on a comprehensive rehabilitation of one of the abandoned model School buildings, situated at Kobape road in Abeokuta. The centre readily engender a beehive of activities including training programmes to enhance the ICT drive in the State. The recent recognition of Ogun State as the ICT Infrastructure Development State from the National Council of Commission and Digital Economy, lent credence to the avowed commitment to this sector. The Gombe State Commissioner for Information, Science and Technology, Dr Aishatu Maigari averred recently that Ogun State ranked among the States of the Federation that has placed premium on the development of the sector.
In the area of security, the three pronged approach include; protection of lives and property through the strengthening of the internal security system, protection of the border region in the State and provision of job opportunities for the teeming youths for economic empowerment and crime prevention. According to Prince Abiodun, there is no hiding place for criminals in Ogun State. He has continued to demonstrate this in words and deeds.
The recent purchase of 100 patrol vans, 200 power bikes and security gadgets for security agencies in the State aptly captured his determination to confront criminal activities headlong. The Signing into law of the Security Trust Fund would ,no doubt help strengthen security operations and promote efficiency in security management.
Alleviating unemployment and youth bulge is very key in the agenda of the present administration and the various initiatives in the area of road rehabilitation through the PWD, the creation of Waste Management Agency among others are direct ways of providing instant means of livelihood for various categories of artisans, waste disposers with multiplier effect on the local economy.
The Ogun Jobs portal has continued to drive the various job creation and empowerment initiative such as the Anchors borrowers programme which has empowered over 10,000 outgrowers under the CBNS interest free facility. Ogun State has been adopted as a model State, having allocated about 10,0000 outgrowers who were employed by turning them into agripreneurs and matched them with Anchors(Offtakers) that sign a forward offtaker contract.
The various initiatives including Oko wo Dapo has empowered numerous market women. Many top grade graduating students of various higher Institutions in the State have also benefitted from the employment scheme. No wonder, the recent recently won an award as the BEST STATE IN YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AND AGRIC INDUSTRIALISATION, courtesy of the apex bank, CBN.
On agriculture, the target of Prince Dapo Abiodun led administration is to produce enough food to attain self-sufficiency in food security in the short term and over long term produce enough for other State for export. Apart from facilitating linkages between farmers and the industries, the government has continued to encourage local processing to enhance value chain with the ultimate aim of increasing food production.
The Apoje farm settlement came alive with a Broiler Empowerment Programme with the delivery of 54,000 day old chicks for 54 beneficiaries. Under the programme, each beneficiary, within 42 days with 1000 birds each, is expected to earn a minimum profit of about N130,000 per cycle of production. The State Ministry of Agriculture is providing technical support for the project which was designed to meet the demand of poultry meat, reduce importation of frozen products and create source of livelihood for young agripreneurs.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach to governance cannot be over emphasized with a number of initiative such as the Ogun State Investment promotion agency, Ogun State Business Environment Council and the Enterprise Development Agency all aimed at enhancing accountability and effective investment management in the State. Also, the Ogun State Economic Transformation Project Implementation structures, has the capacity to enhance access to World bank finance facilities
Prince Dapo Abioduns administration did not lose sight of sports. The Stadia across the State were virtually lying prostrate while the main bowl, pitch, dressing rooms and offices at the FIFA rated Dipo Dina International Stadium, Ijebu-Ode, including the Games village were in complete shambles with rodents virtually taken over.
A visit to Dipo Dina International Stadium in Ijebu Ode as at today indeed testified to an administration, ready to keep sports alive. Barely three months in office, the present administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun rehabilitated the abandoned stadium, thus salvaging the sporting legacy. The recent hosting by the State of two major international sporting events including the first African edition of the 50km Value jet IAU African Championship race tagged REMO 2019 and the Marathon race in Abeokuta, the State capital indeed gave fillip to the development of the sector. Ogun State under the present administration is a sporting destination of choice.
The President, International Association of Ultra runners, Mr Naden Khan described the Abeokuta Marathon event as the first of its kind in Africa. The establishment of Ogun State Sports Commission, as being conceptualized and nurtured to fruition has also underscored the resolve to reposition the sports sector by Prince Dapo Abiodun-led administration..
Of course, provision of affordable housing schemes across the zones of the state underpins the government’s resolve to ensure the well-being of the citizenry. As at the moment 50 housing units are under construction at the Obasanjo Hiltop Estate, Oke Mosan Abeokuta, another 200 of such houses by the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC) were being constructed at the Agbara Estate.
These would be replicated in all other senatorial districts in due course. The Governor specifically directed that the low cost housing scheme must indeed by affordable to prospective buyers. The recent turning of the sod of OPIC Kings Court estate ,along the Presidential Boulevard in Abeokuta by Prince Dapo Abiodun is an eloquent testimony of a pro-active measure to create and promote an enabling environment for public and private sector partnership which would enhance economic development.
In concluding, it is noteworthy that the icing on the cake of these sterling initiatives is the year 2020 budget, christened The Budget to Build Our Future Together which is indeed an all-inclusive budget that derived its inputs from town hall meetings earlier held in all the three senatorial districts of the State.
The budget, according to the Osile of Oke Ona Egba, Oba Adedapo Tejuoso is the beginning that is blessed and a beginning that will take Ogun State miles away from where it is at the moment
Surely, there couldnt have been a better descriptive to capture the consistent, strategic and result-oriented steps of Governor Abiodun towards giving enduring value to the people of the State. This is a focused and people-centered government.
Onasanya is a Director of Information in Ogun State