Giving governance facelift in Ogun
When Prince Dapo Abiodun assumed the mantle of leadership on May 29, 2019, as the fifth executive Governor of Ogun State, his ascendancy on the throne was seen as a “triumphal entry” into the political landscape to salvage the near-collapse of governance in the ‘Gateway’ state. It was a moment ushered in with high expectations and auspicious hopes of a better state for all and sundry to live in. Within the first six months in office, he has touched every sphere of human life and etched his name in gold.
With human face, upon his assumption of office, his first major pre-occupation was his social contract with the workforce of the Ogun State Government. He pledged the prompt payment of salaries, as and when due (before the last working day of every month), with or without FAAC or JAAC, and he has sustained the tempo.
While lending credence to the social contract in his inauguration speech on May 29, 2019 before a mammoth crowd that gathered at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta, the state capital, Abiodun averred, “Our workers are the prime resource of the state and an economy is only as good as its managers. Within the limit of available resources, we shall endeavour to be fair, open, just and equitable to all our workers and pensioners.
“We will ensure that their welfare is paramount and the environment in which they work is conducive to ensure their productivity.”
For the umpteenth time, Abiodun, also in his 2020 new year broadcast message to the people of the state, on January 1, restated the commitment of the present administration towards improving the lots of its workforce.
“It is also important to remember that our public service remains the engine room of government,” he said. “I am proud to say that prompt payment of salaries to our ever-hardworking, diligent and committed public servants is no longer a challenge in Ogun state.”
Poised to enthrone financial transparency and discipline in its accounting policy for the betterment of the state, the administration is set to lay a solid foundation for an efficient allocation of the meagre resources at its disposal to achieve optimum benefits of its citizenry. In his New Year address, the Governor added thus: “As a new administration, we cannot afford to rest on our oars. Going forward, more attention will be paid on financial transparency, accountability, due process, efficiency and cost management. And this has engendered the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
“This is Ogun State, and we are renowned for being the first and best in different fields of human endeavour. But we need more prayers; we need stronger discipline, increased trust, harder work, increased commitment and dedication from all of us. We are determined to leave Ogun State much better than we met it. ”
However, as a mark of departure from the old order, Abiodun underscored the mutual understanding and working relations with the legislative arm of government in the speedy passage of the 2020 appropriation budget. A sum total of N449.97 billion was passed. At the signing of the budget on Tuesday, December 31, 2019, he expressed appreciation to the legislative arm, thus: “On the part of the executive, we affirm that our appreciation will be further underscored with the implementation of this budget. I believe that, it is indeed how we can demonstrate the appreciation of this speedy passage to the House of Assembly and the rest of the citizens of this state, by extension.
“We will ensure that this budget is implemented to the letter. We will do everything to ensure that all the assumptions that have been made, particularly in the areas of revenue generation become a reality. And we will follow through, on our vision.”
By and large, the current administration has taken giant strides in several critical sectors of the economy to correct the ills of the immediate past administration. Abiodun has laid a solid foundation for growth and development across the nooks and crannies of the state and the wind of the positive change is blowing the stagnation and inertia that hitherto dogged progress and development in the state, thus, gradually paving ways for a new dawn of auspicious hope of a better tomorrow.
Since the inception of the current administration, it has, without doubt, made some positive steps that indicate a clear future direction that holds auspicious hope for the state and its citizenry. Abiodun leaves no one in doubt of his resolve and commitment to adopt genuine and purposeful leadership approach to governance. This is a clear departure from the norms where most times, projects were executed without necessarily meeting the needs of the people, but were mainly executed for ulterior motives or, sometimes, serving a particular individual or, section of the state, at the expense of others.
The administration has instead adopted an approach that ensures that the right spirit is put into governance, thereby avoiding the quest for self-aggrandizement which often results in the planning and execution of grandiose projects meant for ego tripping. The administration has steadily continued to unfold and execute its plans of action in different parts of the state for its citizenry with a view to ensuring that all sections of the state are considered and taken care of in the execution of projects with tact and systemic approach.
Of paramount importance to the administration is the fact that government is a continuum, which is a sharp departure from the past practice where sheer political rivalry and utter vendetta drove the government of the day to abandon projects of their predecessors. In adopting this stance, the administration has reasoned that leaving such inherited projects to decay would only amount to huge waste of the meagre resources and mismanagement of taxpayers’ money. In line with this philosophy, however, the administration is focusing on maintaining and upgrading (where need be) existing infrastructure.
Thus, while new developmental projects have commenced, in line with the administration’s “Building Our Future Together” mantra anchored on the enablers and planks, the administration believes that existing infrastructures need not be made to suffer neglect, especially when it was discovered that most of the infrastructure, such as roads, education, healthcare facilities, among others were in bad shape.
Without mincing words, the fact is that, despite the huge resources claimed to have been expended on infrastructure, especially roads, by the immediate past administration most of the roads are in a deplorable state, with the residents bearing the attendant brunt. Abiodun, while receiving in audience the President of the African Development Bank, AfDB, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, disclosed that his administration is at an advanced stage of implementing a new method of road construction in the State.
He added that the process which has begun with three local government areas in the state would be fully carried out across the state beginning from this month, January.
“We have begun to investigate an alternative road construction method. We started with three local government areas of the State. All we need to do is grade the roads, camper them, have drainages and put this chemical on them. It won’t cost us that much and we can do it on time. I am glad to say that we are going to begin that process this January. We have tested them, and they have passed the test,” he said.
Education: In the area of education, Ogun State, which used to pride itself as the education capital of the country has lost that glory. In the last eight years, there were misplacement of priorities. Performances of students in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations were nothing to write home about.
This unsavoury development jolted the current administration to declare a state of emergence in order to address the ill that was plaguing the sector. In appreciating the efforts of the teaching and non-teaching staff, the Governor approved the release of the 2016/2017 promotion exercise in both Secondary and Primary Schools across the state.
Besides, he also directed the Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to commence issuing letters of promotion to affected officers without delay.
To him, education is the bedrock of the society and teachers play key roles in transforming the lives of the children, while he pledged that the administration would continue to provide conducive atmosphere to enhance qualitative teaching and learning in the state.
Also, the administration has begun the monthly average payment of N791 million as pensions to retired local government council workers and SUBEB retirees.
Not left out, the Governor has approved the release of N5 billion counterpart funding and matching grant for the state to access 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) intervention projects.
The administration has also taken over 28 community schools spread across the state and as well, absorbed 577 teachers in the affected schools into its civil service system.
To ensure conducive atmosphere for learning, the administration has undertaken the repair and refurbishment of dilapidated public schools across the 236 wards that make up the state.
Health: And, realising the saying that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation, Governor Abiodun, as parts of his first major task of restoring the lost glory of the state teaching hospital, paid an unscheduled visit to the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, where he bemoaned the deplorable state of the structures and obsolete equipment, especially the theatre room. The same pitiable conditions applied to all State General Hospitals, without exception. To save the health sector of collapsing, the Governor ordered the immediate procurement of modern medical equipment from overseas (for both Secondary and Primary healthcare facilities), the repair of the existing structures and construction of new ones.
Not only that, at OOUTH, Governor Abiodun gave an express approval for the recruitment of over 100 medical doctors, nurses, Pharmacists, and other medical personnel to complement the existing ones. The same gesture was replicated at the General Hospitals in Abeokuta, Ilaro, Ijebu-Ode, Ota, and other parts of the state.
Agriculture: As part of the premium placed on using agriculture to drive the economy, Abiodun recently inaugurated the Steering Committee on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. While he bemoaned the fact that the state government had not benefited from the Central Bank of Nigeria-powered programme, the Governor matched words with action when on August 29, 2019, at the official flag-off ceremony of the FADAMA Graduate Unemployed Youths Scheme, known as (FADAMA GUYS), gave automatic slots to 200 beneficiaries that would derive grants from the Ogun State Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, recently launched.
The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is targeted at 40,000 beneficiaries, while kick-starting with 10,000 farmers. The farmers would have access to a single digit interest rate loan as a means of employment in accordance with the objectives of the administration in solving the myriads of problems confronting farmers.
Security: The administration has underscored the roles security plays in combating threats posed by banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes. Hence, the administration recently relaunched the State Security Trust Fund. The reconstituted board headed by the chairman, Lafarge Plc, Mr Bolaji Balogun, in line with the PPP, is expected to source funds for the procurement of crime-fighting equipment and welfare of the police personnel and that of other sister agencies. So far, the administration has procured 100 patrol vehicles and 200 motorbikes. Also, the Fund has raised well over N1 billion from donors.
The Governor is determined to ensure the prosperity of the people of the state. This commitment was reaffirmed when the governor again hosted Dr Adesina, the AfDB president, in his Okemosan office on Thursday, January 2, 2020, where he expessed appreciation to the bank for choosing the state as one of the special agro-processing zones, in terms of agriculture and the mutual-beneficial relationship.
Abiodun noted that the naturally endowed land mass of about 16,000 square kilometres, out of which 12,000 are arable can become the food basket of the country, if judiciously harnessed. In ensuring that the state’s fund is judiciously expended, Governor Abiodun is demonstrating his strong belief in the growth of the local economy.
The assent to the Ogun State Road Management Amendment Bill to pave way for the Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) is no doubt a milestone as the State is already witnessing massive road rehabilitation and construction in all fronts.
Also, in its determined efforts to improve the environment in the state, the administration has set the necessary machinery in motion to reinvigorate waste disposal across the state. This new approach is geared towards creating a clean and healthy environment for the common good of all.
The administration also has taken cognizance of its economic benefits and it has evolved plans to increase the revenue drive of the state through proper waste management. Not quite long, precisely, on Friday, October 19, 2019, at the grand finale of a Town Hall Meeting on the 2020 Budget and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, the governor adduced the rationale behind the reinvigorating of the Ogun State Waste Management Authority (OGWAMA) thus; “We decided to set up the OGWAMA, because when we came in we had the authority under the Ministry of the Environment. But we realised the fact that there were gaps that the authority was not effective. We saw what is obtainable in other states. We saw how much revenue is being generated from it.”
Ogbonnikan is a media aide to the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun
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