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Ogun State: The legacy of a great future – Part 3

By Tunji Olaopa
10 February 2021   |   3:14 am
This vision already indicates a significant strategic ideology, which is further fleshed in the ISEYA acronym—Infrastructure—Social Welfare and Well-being—Education—Youth development—Agriculture

[FILES] At the event held in Abeokuta in commemoration of the 2020 World Teachers Day, Governor Abiodun felicitated all teachers in Ogun State, especially through the NUT, Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools & other Unions & Associations who have consistently protected the interest of teachers. Photo: TWITTER/DABIODUNMFR

Continued from yesterday

This vision already indicates a significant strategic ideology, which is further fleshed in the ISEYA acronym—Infrastructure—Social Welfare and Well-being—Education—Youth development—Agriculture and food security. The acronym, therefore, provides a Yoruba cultural call to duty for the governor and his team—it is time to work! And His Excellency definitely set out to work, guided by the intense discipline of the private sector managerial dynamics that is motivated by performance management and productivity indicators. This ideological context for governance performance was also hedged about with what the Governor called “strategic enablers”—good governance, security, information and communication technology (ICT), infrastructure and welfare—grounded on the strategic pillars of agriculture, education, health, environment and infrastructure.

What is unique about Governor Abiodun’s vision and strategy? It is simple but brilliant: he realized the comparative strength of Ogun state and he tapped into it to harness its capacities. Ogun state, as we noted earlier, is strategically placed as the gateway into the southwest and into Nigeria. And it has been naturally endowed with arable lands, as well as an industrial potentiality deriving from its contiguity to Lagos, that promise huge returns. Given the fiscal limitations that the Nigerian Constitution imposes on the state, what best way to harness these potentials that Providence has given Ogun state than through a collaboration between the government and the private sector? And who is in the best position and with the vast experience to realize this than someone who cuts his professional and managerial teeth in the private sector? It, therefore, becomes possible to deploy a vast youthful population to an agricultural agenda backed by a huge industrial framework that can move Ogun forward. The establishment of the Ogun State One-Stop-Shop Investment Center (OSIC), which later transformed into the Ogun State Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency (OgunInvest) in 2018 is a critical structural complement to Governor Abiodun’s PPP vision.

The second leg in Governor Abiodun’s governance agenda is the reform of the civil service to boost its capacity readiness to deliver on his vision. The reformer in me delights in the Governor’s effort to erase the skill and capacity gaps in the operational functionality of the MDAs. This is the way to go to transform the MDAs into the world-class functional unit for governance successes. This reform consciousness is complemented by series of reform processes: rejuvenation of the M&E department, the appointment of director-general for the Bureau of Public Procurement, and a Statistician-General for the Bureau of Statistics, and the putting up of the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

And after one year in office, the Governor was able to say, with confidence, “We delivered on our promises to the people of Ogun state.”
And yet the job is not yet done, as His Excellency recognized. In the next few pages, I will outline the challenges ahead, together with the opportunities available for the Governor and his administration to tap in.

“Building Our Future Together”
The Abiodun administration has three more years in its first tenure office. And these years are sufficient to generate the goodwill that will give the governor a second term to keep up the good governance work embedded in ISEYA. The solid indication for this is the demonstration of performance intent that the first year produced. This implies that the administration must take seriously its own slogan of “building the future together.” This slogan has significant administrative and governance implications that can improve the governance and productivity profile of Ogun state. I will highlight three.

The first is economic collaboration. In October 2019, the Governors of Lagos and Ogun states were hosted to a business meeting to discuss the possibilities of collaboration demanded by their economic and geographic contiguity. Yet, this principle of contiguity ought not to be restricted to Lagos alone. It ought to extend to the entire southwestern region that borders Ogun state. These are sister states whose economic profiles and cultural dynamics mirror those of Ogun state. There is a lot to be gained in terms of governance and trade agreements and partnership. Indeed, as I see it, the DAWN Commission ought to be a truly functional catalyst for Governor Abiodun’s vision of PPP.

The second institutional template for togetherness in realizing the objectives of Ogun State is the need for deeper attention to the functionality of the Ogun state public service. There is an urgent need for a rigorous and more focused reform implementation dynamics that will facilitate the capacity readiness of the public service to deliver on the policy of the Abiodun administration. This means that the reforms signalled by the Governor—economic and public finance reform, public financial management reforms, fiscal and institutional management reforms, etc.—require detailed implementational and the evaluative mechanism that will produce tangible outputs. There might be a need for a reform agency in the office of the governor to take charge of reform matters and their management.

The third institutional component I will urgently signal is the need for an anti-corruption framework that will serve as a critical structural watchdog to undergird the administration’s governance objectives and projections. Political and bureaucratic corruption is both fundamental variables that undermine good governance. The trajectory of governance achievements which His Excellency has proven in his first year cannot be rubbished by the prevalence of corruption and its debilitating consequences.

The last institutional template I am convinced will add value to the Abiodun administration is the urgent need to establish an inter-generational forum that will enable the state to harness the vast human capital resources available to the state in education, music, entertainment, industry, the private sector, science and technology, politics, public administration, and so on. All these achievers, heroes and heroines constitute a framework of intelligence and wisdom that the administration can call upon to backstop its policies and projections. They remain a veritable bridge between what had been done and what is possible, especially in terms of youth development which is a significant plank in the Abiodun administration’s governance strategy.

Let me end this keynote with a quote from Dwayne Johnson, the American movie star. According to him, “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” The responsibility attached to governance requires focus, consistency and hard work. I have no doubt that all these can be found in HE Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun. I have no doubt that he is already laying the foundation of a great future in Ogun state. His reward will be that no one will ever forget the legacy that will come from his good governance agenda.

Professor Olaopa delivered this piece as keynote lecture at the symposium organised by the Ogun State Government to mark the 45th anniversary of the state’s creation on the 3rd of February, 2021. Olaopa is a professor of public administration and public policy.

, retired Federal permanent secretary and Directing Staff, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru, Jos.