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Challenges, strides of Abiodun in governance

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Dapo Abiodun. Photo/TWITTER/dabiodunMFR

A little over two years ago, when he took the reins as Governor in Ogun State, the weight of expectations on Dapo Abiodun seemed too much to bear. This was because of the daunting challenges strewn across the polity. Virtually all facets of life in the state needed urgent intervention. But Abiodun was undeterred; he rolled his sleeves and got to work.

Two years on, his highlights of service to the Ogun people paint him as one who the privilege of being in leadership is not lost on and one who is yet in sync with his pre-election promises to the electorate. This is evident in the many projects he had embarked on and completed, and in the various aspects of daily living that the administration has touched.

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From education to infrastructure, rural development, water supply and sanitation, women affairs, empowerment and social welfare, health and transport, agriculture and youth empowerment, employment and employment generation, Governor Abiodun has left no sector untouched.

In the education sector, in March 2021, the Ogun State Government commenced the Ogun State Teaching Experience Acquisition Channel (Ogun TEACh), a paying special intervention two-year scheme set up to fill existing vacancies in public primary and secondary schools as well as technical colleges in the State. Over the last two years, in what is now popular as the ‘Yellow Roof Revolution,’ the government has embarked on a massive overhaul of school facilities, erecting in different schools across the 20 LGAs, classrooms, hostels, toilets, offices, stores and equipping e-libraries/computer rooms. At the same time, 570 schools have been rehabilitated with reconstruction, reinforcement and reroofing. In a rewarding outstanding performance, Governor Abiodun gave special recognition to Ms Faith Odunsi and Mr Oladimeji Shotunde, amongst others. Odunsi had topped the Global Open Mathematics Competition, with Shotunde emerging Best Graduating Student at the Lagos State University, LASU. While the State Government launched an endowment fund seeded with 5million Naira for Ms Odunsi, it awarded Mr Shotunde a 2-bedroom bungalow and a 2million Naira cash prize, just as 32 other teachers and students got various other prizes.

In the area of infrastructure, Abiodun has made good his promise to develop roads with even distribution and commitment of resources and time to all senatorial districts of the State. In Ogun West, the reconstruction of Raypower Road and Imasayi-Ayetoro Road has been completed and the new roads are already being used by motorists, while Oke Ola Road in Imeko and Owode-Ilaro Road are currently being reconstructed. Also, Odo Afa road and Bridge in Ipokia LGA have received attention having been in unfavourable condition for use for long. Of particular importance is the 19.2km Agbara-Lusada-Atan roa, which had long been abandoned despite the industrial significance of the region to the State’s economy. The road project, flagged off by Abiodun on April 29, 2021, is going at a commendable pace. Recall that in April, the Governor commissioned the 10.25km Lusada-Igbesa road, which was constructed by the Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone in partnership with the State Government.

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In Ogun East, completed road projects include Oru-Awa-Ilaporu-Ibadan Road, Fusigboye-Ojofa Street Road and Asafa Oke-Asafa Isale-Ayegun-Ojofa Street Road in Ijebu Ode. Other projects, which are ongoing, include the 14km Ijebu Ode-Epe Expressway; Oba Erinwole Dual Carriageway, Sagamu; Molusi College Road; Ilishan Market Road; 11km Atan-Erunwon Road; Ogbagba Street Road; and Ejinrin-Oluwalogbon-Mobalufon-Ibadan Road.

In Ogun Central, completed road projects include Obantoko Road (Fajol-American Junction-Unity Estate-Gbonagun); Idi Aba-Oke Lantoro Road; and Ikoritameje-Adenrele/Olose Titun-Vespa Road. Ongoing projects, which are nearing completion include construction of the 42km Abeokuta-Sagamu Interchange; reconstruction of Panseke-Adigbe Road; as well as the extension of the proposed gate Development at Sagamu Interchange. In Ifo LGA, roadworks are ongoing on Akute-Denro-Ishasi-Oluwakemi Road.

In housing, the government has completed the construction of the King’s Court Estate in Abeokuta, after final touches in March 2021 by the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation, which is handling the project intended for middle-class income earners. At the same time, Phase II of the Prince Court Estate at Kemta Idi-Aba is almost completed. The Phase I, which delivered 150 low-cost housing units, was completed in the first year of the current administration. Yet, the government plans to extend its housing scheme to other areas such as Ota, Ilaro, Sagamu, Ikenne and Ijebu Ode. It is already currently constructing an affordable housing estate in Kobape.

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Rural development, water supply and sanitation have also been looked into. Within the two years, the government embarked on the rehabilitation of the Iberekodo Dam with a view to restoring potable water supply in the state. As of May 28, 2021, five new gates had been installed as well as gear hoists, cofferdam demolished, and water flow restored. With water flow already restored, the Ogun State Water Corporation is almost set to recommence supply.

Through the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, a total of nine hand and motorised boreholes were rehabilitated into complete solar-powered boreholes in Odeda, while constructing two new ones. In Yewa North LGA, eight boreholes were rehabilitated with solar power, while five have been fully constructed. Five hand and motorised boreholes were also rehabilitated in Ado Odo/Ota LGA, while 13 new ones were constructed. In Ipokia LGA, 12 new solar-powered boreholes were constructed, while eight were rehabilitated. While these rehabilitation and construction projects are ongoing, those already executed have brought the needed relief to residents who had in the past had to search for potable water without end.

To provide electricity for rural dwellers, the government commissioned the 100KWp solar mini-grid Hybrid Electrification System at Olooji Community. Equally, Atapa Community in Ogun Central Senatorial District and Koto Obo in Ogun West have been provided with complete Household Solar Lighting Systems. This is just as some township roads have received attention. The 6km Koriko Village road that leads to the Association of Senior Civil Servant Housing Scheme was upgraded to ease the hardship faced by residents and other road users.

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Governor Abiodun understands the importance of giving the health sector utmost attention, which perhaps explains why the sector has got immense look-in under his administration, especially at the grassroots. So far, a total of 42 Primary Health Centres, PHCs, have been renovated and equipped, with 60 others ongoing across the 20 LGAs. Hospital renovation is ongoing in three different locations – the State General Hospitals in Idiroko, Ibiade and Odeda. The Government has also carried out some construction and renovation at the State General Hospitals in Iberekodo and Ijebu Ife. Renovation has also been carried out at the 120-bed Mother-and-Child Ward at the State General Hospital in Iperu.

On another hand, in September 2020, Governor Abiodun approved the recruitment of medical staff across cadres, including resident doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others. He gave specific instructions to all state-owned hospitals to recruit 20 consultant doctors to address the existent shortfall at the time. And as of May 28, 2021, a total of 310 medical staff had been employed by the State Government – from consultant to attendants. Government launched its 24-hour ambulance service across the state. In addition to this clear improvement in the effectiveness of ambulances, the number of available ambulances has also increased from a mere six as of May 2019, to 21 ambulances, with plans underway to have about 30 for easier access to prompt healthcare delivery. Already, for better access, an ambulance unit has been established in each of all nine federal constituencies.

The Abiodun administration has also paid the sum of 100million Naira as a commitment fund into the Basic Health Care Provision Fund. The Fund targets persons categorised as vulnerable, including the aged, pregnant women, and children under the age of 5.

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The Ogun State Health Insurance Agency, through its 236 officers-in-charge and ward development chairmen trained for this purpose, has commenced registration of 20,000 beneficiaries for free healthcare across all 20 LGAs. Also, N600, 000 has been disbursed for the implementation of the Fund to 196 PHCs, and payment will continue monthly with N100,000. To ease access to public health facilities especially in emergencies, the Government also distributed 34 tricycle ambulances to rural PHCs to reduce maternal and infant mortality, which may have increased due to the remote location of the areas.

In the transport sector, the government took delivery of high-capacity buses in May 2021, which it said was the first batch of the technology-enabled vehicles to be used for the State’s Bus Mass Transit Scheme targeted at easing access to safe, public transportation as well as create jobs in the value chain while also giving the State internally generated revenue a boost.

In terms of digital economy and ease of doing business, the administration launched the Ogun State Digital Economy Infrastructure Project (OGDEIP) to provide connectivity in key institutions, MDAs, and unconnected regions of the State through improved technology to ease the conduct of work and business both for the private and public sectors.

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In the aspect of women affairs, empowerment and social welfare, 25 women in the State benefited in Phase I of the AboCoders Programme, a free training programme organised for women between the ages of 16 and 35 by the government in collaboration with AboCoders (a subsidiary of Aspillos Foundation).

In agriculture and youth empowerment, over 26,540 jobs were created through the linkage of farmers and youths to agriculture opportunities through intervention programmes. Government provided input and facilitated the crediting of beneficiaries with over a 1.5billion Naira in the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and the FGN/IFAD/Ogun State Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP). In addition to this, 11,099 more jobs are set to be created in the current year 2021, as this number of applicants have registered to be first-batch beneficiaries of linkage to inputs and credit in five commodities which include fisheries (720), oil palm (750), poultry (8,084), piggery (1,245) and cattle (300) under the Expanded CBN/Ogun Anchor Borrowers Programme. To revive cocoa production in the state, the government provided a total of 10,000 hectares of land in Iwoye-Ketu to cocoa farmers. The land provision is covered under the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme.

The Ogun Broiler Project began with 54 pilot youth beneficiaries who made a cumulative profit of 450,000 Naira in three cycles. The beneficiaries produced 162,000 broilers and 3.24 metric tonnes of broiler meat. With over 9,000 individuals showing interest in the flagship project, it is to be replicated across all 20 local government areas for even benefit to the people. The government has also provided improved planting materials to 40,000 smallholder farmers, while fertilizer was provided to target 10,000 smallholder farmers just as it facilitated the donation of about a 100million tomato seeds to vegetable farmers across the State. The seeds were donated by the Raw Materials Research Development Council (RMRDC).

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Under Abiodun’s two years in office, the State has been declared as the perfect location for the proposed Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) by the African Development Bank (AfDB). This was jointly re-established in March 2021 by the AfDB and the International Fund for Agricultural Development during their working visit, which applauded the government’s initiative of the ongoing Ilishan-Remo Agro-Cargo Airport project.

In another development, the ongoing World Bank/Ogun State Economic Transformation Project (OGSTEP) is targeting 40,000 farmers in nine priority value chains, which include cassava, maize, rice, soya bean, tomatoes and pepper, sesame, fishery and poultry. The State is currently a beneficiary of the World Bank/Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus, N-CARES Project, which would kick off next month, June 2021. The programme is funded by the International Development Association (IDA) to support ICT services; water supply, sanitation and waste management; social protection; agricultural extension and research; and banking institutions in the aftermath of the dreaded coronavirus.

Abiodun’s strides did not evade the security sector. In the wake of the herder-farmer crises that rocked the Yewa region of Ogun State, Governor Abiodun immediately set up an Intervention Squad, as well as a Peace-Keeping Committee. The Squad is a multi-agency security troop saddled with the primary responsibility of returning peace to, and maintaining the same within the region, while the Committee administered palliatives provided by the State Government to victims of the crises. Displaced victims were also appropriately rehoused. Also, on April 1, 2021, Abiodun officially inaugurated the indigenous security outfit, Amotekun Corps, an initiative of all Southwest Governors, to address the security challenges that were beginning to creep into the region. 

Without a doubt, the achievement of the Abiodun-led administration is a mind-settler that reassures the electorate that the choice made two years ago was spot-on, what-with the fair distribution of developmental projects across sectors and sub-regions, restoring a sense of belonging to sector and sub-regions that might have hitherto been marginalised.

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