Dapo Abiodun: Trudging between governance and political bickering
Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun may have scored himself high marks in terms of performance during the one-year anniversary on May 29, but the last one year has been a matter of using good policy approach to governance to stabilise amidst the political bickering his administration is exposed to in the past one year.
But pundits have expressed concern whether the governor’s efforts to revamp the economy and social infrastructure since he took over from his immediate past predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun are strong enough to secure his stay in government beyond four years. The facts of political dynamics in the state is also another factor the incumbent must have to handle as he strives to deliver the dividends of democracy to citizens of The Gateway State in the next three years.
Although, there are some misgivings about his style of governance especially his ‘perceived ill-treatment’ of the political gladiators that supported him to secure the governorship ticket of the Ogun State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) in spite of Amosun, who preferred Adekunle Akinlade that later contested the Ogun 2019 governorship election on the platform of Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
While Amosun invested the party’s structure and state’s resources on Akinlade of APM, the G-5 team, comprising Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National Leader of APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, former governor of Ogun, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and the lawmaker representing Lagos East, Senator Solomon Adeola, who had initially shown interest in the Ogun governorship but later collapsed his structure, Yayi Foundation into Abiodun’s Campaign group.
In the process, former governor of Ogun, and a staunch member of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Otunba Gbenga Daniel, erstwhile Ogun East lawmaker, Senator Buruji Kashamu and others all embraced Abiodun in spite of their party’s participation in the election. The incumbent went ahead to defeat Akinlade of APM and governorship candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, who had since collapsed his “Believe Movement” into APC in the state after the 2019 contest. It would be recalled that Akinlade and the APM structure have also defected to the ruling party. According to an insider, the incumbent governor is currently enjoying strong base support despite the seemingly political challenges his administration is facing in the last one year.
For instance, there are insinuations that the Osoba group is being marginalized in the political calculations under Abiodun “but there are fewer facts to justify such notion”, a member of the party disclosed, saying, “As it stands today, all groups that worked and supported the incumbent during the election have been appropriately rewarded and accommodated based on the sharing formula on the ground. More so, the former governor has not come out to complain or confront the governor about any wrongdoings. Minor crisis cannot be ruled out in politics.”
But for Akinlade and the APM structure that recently returned to Ogun APC, some members of the ruling party commended the magnanimity of the incumbent over his friendly disposition towards the returnee considering the harsh bickering between Amosun and the incumbent before the election in 2019.
But while political calculations are ongoing, the incumbent has remained focus and determined to deliver on his promises to the people of Ogun State with the aim to address lopsided infrastructural development across the state. Unlike the situation under his immediate predecessor, who was accused of concentrating on Ogun Central his senatorial district, Abiodun has in the last one year tried to balance project distributions across the three senatorial districts.
Although, Abiodun agreed that the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has tested the administration’s effectiveness just like it did to all governments across the globe in the last five months, he said, “As an administration, we have been focused, deliberate, methodical, driven by an unwavering commitment to serve and one that enjoys tremendous goodwill of our people, we confronted the pandemic headlong. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges we have had to confront, we have been able to record notable achievements in all sectors of our dear state in the last one year of our Administration in office.”
Reeling out what the government has done to address the deplorable state of security he met as at May 29, 2019, Abiodun said, “Although security agencies are on the Exclusive List of the 1999 Constitution, we have continued to support all the security agencies. We launched our STF (Security Trust Fund), purchased and distributed 100 security vehicles and 200 motorcycles vans fitted with state-of-the-art gadgets.”
It is assumed that Ogun as at today remains one of the safest states in Nigeria as affirmed by the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu.
Taking a different approach to infrastructural development in Ogun, Abiodun’s aim has been to develop the infrastructure that meets the immediate needs of the people and provides a solid foundation for continued and sustainable development “and not just Infrastructure to suit the fancy of the political office holders,” he disclosed.
For instance, the government has asked community leaders, interest groups and other stakeholders across our 20 local governments to submit a coordinated list of infrastructural needs, in order of preference, in their areas that are key to the successful implementation of the “Building our Future Together” Agenda.
According to him, “The list includes roads, schools as well as Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs). This exercise has been very rewarding, allowing us to strategically allocate resources. I will now proceed to mention some of the achievements in the Infrastructure focal areas such as roads, transportation, energy, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).”
In addition to the road network, the government also claimed to have taken a number of strategic steps to significantly improve power supply in the state, which include establishment, for the first time, a power and Energy Board, the commencement of Power Audit to dimension the power requirements in the state with a view to determining the needs and improved provision of power supply in phases among others.
The government is also placing emphasis on transportation, which is described as a critical sector and an enabler of economic activities and well-being of the people. To achieve its aims and objectives in the sector, the governor said his administration has upgraded the hitherto Bureau of Transport to a full-fledged Ministry of Transport. “The Ministry will, among other mandate areas, coordinate and streamline activities in the transport sector, evolve a system that will help to strategically determine and prioritise new roads to be constructed or existing roads that should be rehabilitated by the relevant agencies.”
Beyond building physical infrastructure, Abiodun is also focusing on developing human resources in Ogun through viable and aggressive investment in education. To this end, the government has evolved a multi-dimensional approach for further development of the educational industry. “This includes the development of infrastructure; capacity building for our teaching and non-teaching corps; resolution of industrial crises in that sector; appointment of digitally compliant teachers; motivation of our existing corps of teachers with timely promotions and introduction of ICT into the teaching-learning process,” he said. He added that the education capacity-building approach would be backed up with youth employment and empowerment.
On of the major pillars through which the administration envisioned to build the state is agriculture. So far, the government has keyed into the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and the FADAMA Graduate Unemployment Youth Scheme (GUYS).
As the core engine room of government, the governor has continued to re-engineer the Ogun State Public Service and motivate the Public/Civil servants to ensure continuous and smooth operations of the government.
He noted: “As part of our deliberate strategy in this direction, in the last one year, we have opened more rooms for our career public/civil servants to get to the peak of their careers.”
Contrary to the activities of deliberate mischief-makers that are trying to create a crisis where there is none, the incumbent said, “What we have done in the past one year is to inculcate a more businesslike approach to governance. We have also been participatory and inclusive, right from when we pulled eminent citizens and professionals from opposition parties to serve in the Committee that designed the Roadmap of this Government after our election in April 2019.”
Apparently, what must have brought about the involvement of some perceived members of opposition parties in some of the committees set up by the government is to tap experience for the purpose of development and not political bias.
To this end, the incumbent administration deliberately departed from the style adopted by its immediate past predecessor by bringing incredible and competent hands like Tinubu did while he was governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007. The incumbent demonstrated great love for teamwork, thus, making it abundantly clear that he would work closely with his deputy, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, a development that earned him accolades from far and near. This has also put a lie to the allegation that the incumbent is currently at war with his deputy of any member of the party in Ogun.