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Opinion

Olaniyi Ajibola: Dapo Abiodun, firing from all cylinders

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That there is a total departure from the past in the governance of Ogun State is indeed an inchoate statement, what the State is presently witnessing is an unprecedented and significant improvement in all ramifications, as a result of purposeful leadership and inclusive governance of Prince Dapo Abiodun-led government.

Obviously, the Governor has taken governance in the State to greater heights and desirable level, to the admiration of all the citizens of the Gateway State living in Nigeria and in the diaspora, against all odds and to the chagrin of his numerous traducers, who had earlier deceived some unsuspecting members of the public about the capacity and acumen of the Governor to provide necessary democratic deliverables.

Interestingly, Prince Dapo Abiodun, since the beginning of his administration in 2019 has exceptionally performed beyond the expectation of many, changing negative perceptions and shaming pessimists at the same time without making noise.

He hit the ground running with his ISEYA pillars of action, putting critical areas of development into the front burner, namely: Infrastructure, Social Welfare and Well-being, Education, Youths Empowerment and Job Creation and Agriculture.

Governor Abiodun, as a result of his private sector experience and exposure, further conceptualized Multi-modal transportation system to suit the growing industrial hub of Ogun State and the increasing population of the State, considering its proximity to Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria.

With strict adherence to his ISEYA mantra, Governor Abiodun, has brought development to every ward in the 20 Local Government Areas of the State. Across the three senatorial districts, he has constructed, reconstructed, and rehabilitated over 500 kilometers of roads. Notable among them in the Ogun Central Senatorial district is the 45KM Sagamu Interchange-Siun-Abeokuta Expressway, now renamed the Muhammadu Buhari Expressway, a marvel of engineering that ensures both pleasurable and timely safe driving experiences as well as improved productivity.

In the Ogun East Senatorial district, the cognitive helmsman of Ogun State has developed the 14KM Ijebu Ode-Epe Mojoda expressway, connecting the State to Lagos and stimulating industrial growth in the area. This road serves as an evacuation corridor for all the industries within Lekki Free Trade Zone and the Epe corridor in Lagos State. Additionally there is an ongoing construction of the 19KM Atan-Lusada-Agbara expressway in the Ogun West Senatorial District. Efforts are presently in top gear to accelerate the project for the purpose of facilitating access to the Agbara Industrial Estate, the largest industrial Estate in the West Africa Sub-region.

Apart from these landmark road projects, other major city, township and rural road projects spread across all the four zones of the State, that is, Remo, Ijebu, Yewa, and Egba. Some have been newly constructed, rehabilitated, or reconstructed. These roads were chosen by the administration after consultation with the mass of the people at the grassroots, including traditional rulers, youth groups, business groups, labor, and students, in tandem with the administration’s determination to abolish erstwhile practices of prior administrations of developing one section of the state at the expense of others.

The commitment of the government to infrastructural development also extends to the energy sector, with the installation of over 500 transformers across communities, in line with Ogun Light-up Initiative. This Community Electrification Project has improved power supply in the 20 Local Government Areas, while the expansion of the Ogun State Electricity Distribution System will cover more areas especially the corridor from the Sagamu Interchange to Abeokuta (As a phase 1 Project).

In the same vein, and as part of the recently-launched Energy Transition Programme, the administration has recently launched a CNG-fueled mass transit bus system in partnership with the private sector to reduce transportation costs for the citizenry.

Without mincing words, Ogun State is leading the pack in energy transition as it is on record as the first state to deploy these buses in Nigeria. As a result of the commitment and tenacity in steps taken to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal and high cost of diesel fuel, the State has been selected to host the 18th National Council on Transport Conference where the new National Policy on Transportation will be formulated. The State is no doubt leading in strategic exploration of green energy solutions.

Prince Dapo Abiodun, through his well tout out and diverse transportation system established the Ministry of Transportation and developed the Ogun State Urban Transport Policy and Strategic Multi-modal Transport Master Plan, which is currently being meticulously implemented. This includes optimizing the Gateway Status of Ogun State through the implementation of a multi-modal transportation network, comprising air, rail, road, and water transport infrastructure network. It is this dynamic Multi-modal Transport Master Plan that birthed the globally celebrated Gateway Agro-Cargo International Airport, which is one of the crowning achievements of his clear and dynamic vision.

This world-class airport, situated along the Iperu-Ilishan Road in Ikenne Local Government Area of the State and covering 800 hectares of land, was designed to handle cargo, including agriculture-related cargo, and passenger services. The construction of this airport which started in March 2022 has witnessed the completed 4-kilometer runway and near completion of other state-of-the-art facilities including the control tower, apron, fire-station, administrative building terminal and cargo warehouse, including a parking lot. This construction has progressed rapidly, positioning it to be one of the fastest-built airports in Africa.

The accompanying aerotropolis (airport city) spans 5000 hectares and has already attracted Federal Agencies, foreign investors and various businesses, including international logistics companies, a maintenance and repair operations facility, and agro-processing industries. Subsequently, the State has received several unsolicited proposals on concessions at the airport. After necessary evaluation of the deals, the State will be announcing and signing a major concession deal with a private sector player that will pay the state a percentage of their revenue during the term of the agreement in addition to a concession fee that will see it recoup the State’s government spending.

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Interestingly, the airport and its allied businesses in the aerotropolis are expected to generate over 25,000 direct and indirect jobs for the teeming youths of the State and as well speed up microeconomic activities in the State.

Governor Dapo Abiodun, by his style of governance considers youth development and job creation as critical components of his vision for the State, demonstrating this through various initiatives, such as the Ogun Job Portal, Ogun TechHub, and Ogun Youths Empowerment Scheme (OG-YES) thereby empowering youths with employment opportunities, entrepreneurship support, and access to funding and mentorship. It is no more news that about 5000 teachers have been recruited through the OGUNTEACH Scheme, and just few months ago, 1000 of these interns were given permanent employment.

Abiodun’s focus on agriculture and agribusiness has also created avenues for youth engagement and employment in the agricultural value chain.
The government has collaborated with development partners and private sector organizations to create internship and apprenticeship programmes for the youths and also made practical work experience for young graduates possible and effectively improved their employability.

The administration has also prioritized the upgrading of sports facilities in all the stadiums across the State over the past four years. By enhancing these venues, it aims to create an environment that fosters excellence and enables State athletes to train and prepare adequately for their respective sporting events. This commitment has yielded positive results, as athletes from the State have consistently performed exceptionally well in both local and international competitions, as exemplified in their outstanding performance at the last National Sports Festival held in Asaba, Delta State, where the State secured a total of 70 medals, placing it in the 8th position on the medals table.

Recognizing the crucial role of agriculture in ensuring food security and economic stability, the administration has implemented various initiatives to boost agricultural productivity, empower farmers, and enhance food security in Ogun State.So far, it has supported and subsidized grain supply to close to 14,350 farmers with inputs through the OGSTEP Agric programme, OG-CARES FADAMA RA2 programme, and the Value Chain Development Program (VCDP)

The government has also implemented various capacity-building programmes to enhance the skills and knowledge of farmers. Through agricultural training and extension services, it has equipped farmers with modern farming techniques, best practices, and entrepreneurship skills. This empowers them to adopt innovative approaches, improve productivity, and access markets for their agricultural produce.

These efforts in agriculture have yielded significant results, positioning Ogun State as a leading agricultural hub in Nigeria. The State has won several awards at national and international levels, as farmers witnessed increased crop yields and improved livelihoods. Moreover, the agricultural interventions have contributed to the overall economic growth of the state and attracted investments from both local and international partners.

As it stands today, the State is the largest producer of cassava in the world, the largest producers of poultry products in Nigeria, and the largest producers of rice in the entire southwest of Nigeria.

According to the Governor in one of his recent speeches at a function in Abeokuta, the State capital,”Our focus on agriculture is deliberate. We are an agrarian State with the potential to become the food basket of the nation. In this regard, I again, affirm that no sector of our economy, nor any section of the State, will be developed at the expense of another. This administration will continue with its diversification pursuit in bringing in new industries and maintaining existing ones while ensuring that the ease of doing business will remain seamless, as we sustain our position as the industrial capital of Nigeria”.

Undoubtedly, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has redefined governance in Ogun State and set agenda in inclusive governance for coming administrations in the State; as he continues to fire from all cylinders.

Olaniyi Ajibola, SSA to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Strategic Media writes from Abeokuta

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