Kunle Somorin, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State presents a glowing scorecard of the administration’s performance
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has practically left no one in doubt of his commitment to revamping the state of infrastructure in the Gateway State. This, perhaps, is evident in the zeal and sense of purpose with which several abandoned capital projects have been pursued and new constructions undertaken by his administration.
Abiodun, who rode to power on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) following his victory in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state, marks the second year anniversary of his administration on Saturday, May 29, 2021. The mid-term celebration, which also coincides with the governor’s 61st birthday, is significant in many ways and friends, political associates and well-wishers are normally expected to roll out the drums.
However, as it’s the usual practice in this clime, such milestones present another striking opportunity to evaluate the governor and critique his performance in office so far. Indeed, it is the moment of stock-taking and rendering account of stewardship. Of course, one of the areas where Abiodun would inevitably come under public scrutiny is infrastructural development.
In virtually all states of the federation, the dearth of infrastructures is a critical challenge that has impacted negatively on the lives of the people. The perennial deplorable condition of roads, inefficient transportation, epileptic electricity, housing deficit, water and sanitation problems as well as poorly funded health and educational institutions are making both rural and urban areas quite unhabitable.
With a rapidly increasing population, Ogun State, which is the fastest growing investment and commercial destination in the country, has also grappled with this infrastructural decay before the advent of Governor Abiodun.
Abiodun succeeded the immediate past governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who despite carrying out audacious road revolution – mainly concentrated in one section of the state – left many uncompleted capital projects at the end of his tenure and consequently placing heavy debt and financial burden on the successor administration.
At least, 66 capital projects spread across the state, costing several billions of Naira, were abandoned by the Amosun government, according to the report of the Contracts and Projects Review Committee set up by the present administration.
The committee, chaired by President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Engr. Adekunle Mokuolu, also revealed damning inconsistencies in the award, execution and administration of contracts during the two-term tenure of the ex-governor. These inconsistencies included improper variation claims; deliberate indebtedness of government on haphazard multi-billion Naira projects; post-2015 procurement infractions; and disregard for Right of Way, relocation and compensation, among others.
Some of the abandoned projects inherited by the Abiodun-led administration included the Judicial Complex, Kobape; 250-bed Specialist Hospital, Oke-Mosan; Deputy Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan; Kuto flyover; NNPC – Kuto road expansion; Ajitadun-Adatan flyover, expansion of Ilaro-Owode Road and Lafenwa-Rounda Road, among others.
Since assuming the leadership of the state, Abiodun has taken measures to review some of the projects, contracts and decisions of his predecessor. Some of the decisions, especially those taken at the twilight of the last administration, were reversed.
On July 23, 2019, the state government announced the setting up of the Mokuolu-led committee. When he subsequently inaugurated the committee on July 30, 2019, Governor Abiodun charged its members to ensure the mandate vested on them yielded optimal results. The committee chairman, in turn, assured that the panel would come up with a blueprint that would help government in actualising its set goals.
Over a year, specifically on September 9, 2020, the committee formally presented its report to Abiodun at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta. In his remarks during the presentation, Mokuolu disclosed that 114 contracts valued at more than N349. 376billion were awarded with total payment of more than N130.735billion. He added that a total amount for Unpaid Certificate of Value for work done was more than N20.741billion while revealing that more than N218.380billion was needed to complete the projects.
But Abiodun, while receiving the report, had reassured the people of the state that his administration would not inflict unnecessary pain on them in the course of executing projects. The governor, who commended members of the committee for sparing their time and experience for the good of the state, reaffirmed that the his administration would complete all projects that would engender good governance and impact meaningfully on the lives of the people.
Not allowing the shocking revelations in the contracts and projects review report to overwhelm or discourage him, Abiodun progressed with robust determination to address the problems posed by inadequate infrastructures.
In consonance with his campaign promises, Abiodun revived the state road management agency, OGROMA. He reinvigorated the agency by following up with an enabling bill to the state House of Assembly and the Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) was birthed.
In major towns and highways of the state, various gangs of the OGPWA have swung into action and carried out palliative works and rehabilitation of failed sections. In two years, the agency has also handled some significant road reconstructions to alleviate the suffering of the people. But beyond that, different construction firms have also executed road projects spanning across the three senatorial districts of the state.
From June 2019 till date, the Abiodun-led administration has constructed and reconstructed roads spanning 270.88 kilometres. In addition, over 300km of roads have been rehabilitated across the state within the period under review. Several others are at different stages of completion. Moreover, work is billed to commence soon on some inherited projects, according to recent statement from the state Ministry of Works and Infrastructure.
In Ogun Central Senatorial District, the Panseke-Adigbe Road, Lafenwa-Rounda-Ayetoro Road, MKO Abiola Stadium Road to Kuto Bridge, Adatan-Asero Road and Mowe-Ofada Road are among the major projects inherited by the incumbent governor.
In Ogun East, the Atan-Erunwon Road, Sagamu-Ode Lemo Road, Ejirin-Oluwalogbon Road and Ikangba-Lagos Garage-Ilese Road as some critical inherited projects while the Owode-Ilaro Road and Odò Afa Bridge are projects left by the former government in Ogun West.
It is instructive that some of the foregoing projects have been completed and others still ongoing. This, indeed, is commendable because continuity of projects is unprecedented in the annals of history of the state. Detracting from recent past experiences, the governor has clearly shown he is not in office to personalise governance but to accommodate all and dispense patronage across board.
In its quest for infrastructural development, the Abiodun government has also embarked on a radical transformation of the transportation sector. In collaboration with the private sector and foreign partners, the governor is putting in place a robust multimodal transportation system to offer efficient services to the people and fast-track the socio-economic development of the state.
Transportation is crucial to easy movement of people, goods and services from one point to another and to underscore the importance attached to the sector, the governor upgraded the defunct Bureau of Transportation, which his administration inherited, to a full-fledged ministry.
The ministry, through a well-articulated master plan, is driving the process that would improve transport operation, both formal and informal, as well as traffic management, motor vehicle administration, non-motorised transport and parking services.
“As a matter of fact, our transportation development plan is multi-faceted. As a government, it is our belief that our commitment towards the provision of physical infrastructure by way of construction of new road and rehabilitation of the existing ones; building an agro-cargo airport; construction of waterways; and construction of railways must be met with a good management structure towards ensuring that structures serve the purpose for which they are provided,” Abiodun stated while receiving the presentation of Urban Transport and Transport Intervention Plan Reports recently.
In its commitment to extending the frontiers of development, the Abiodun-led administration has procured air-conditioned and Wi-Fi-enabled luxury buses. These befitting buses, due for launch very soon, signpost the government’s mass transit scheme where commuters will have access to free internet connectivity.
The planned rollout is a major dividend of the state’s engagement with the UK Foreign Office and its department, UK Prosperity Fund, under a programme called the “Future Cities Project.”
On housing, the state has also made appreciable progress. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, shelter is one of the basic needs of man and Governor Abiodun so much believes in the idea and has taken laudable steps to bridge housing deficit.
With hundreds of housing units being constructed across the state and introduction of GRA Resettlement Scheme, the present administration’s efforts at solving housing problems are crystallizing. Abiodun is not reneging on his promise to work with private sector and financial institutions in the deployment of affordable homes and ensuring availability of mortgages for prospective home owners.
His administration plans at least 3,000 housing units across the state in its first term. It has also earmarked large portions of land in Ota, Ilaro, Sagamu and Ijebu-Ode to host housing estates for middle and low-income earners. Locating housing estates in these towns was to ensure equitable distribution of amenities and projects in the three senatorial districts of the state.
Meanwhile, 150 units of two and three bedrooms at Prince Court Estate have been commissioned at Kemta, Idi-Aba in Abeokuta. Another 500 units of similar description are on-going at Kobape in the Ogun Central Senatorial District.
The Kings Court Estate, under construction at Presidential Boulevard, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, is also another project provided to address housing concerns. The project is being managed by the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC).
Previously, and worthy of note, the Abiodun administration undertook downward review of the selling price for the three-bedroom flats and two-bedroom flats at the A.A.K. Degun Estate situated in Laderin, Abeokuta and ensured the relaxation of terms and condition of sale of the units, including the reduction of interest rate from 18 percent to 6 percent.
The governor is also giving greater attention to the water supply challenges in the urban and rural areas of the state. He has expressed commitment to improving water distribution and ensuring that Abeokuta, the state capital, enjoys uninterrupted pipe-borne water.
Serious rehabilitation works are ongoing on the dam at Arakanga Waterworks in Abeokuta. The facility is slated to be completed in June and water would start to flow again. The governor recently paid salary arrears of staff of the Ogun State Water Corporation and tasked them to redouble efforts and also come up with other production and distribution infrastructure financing gaps for government’s intervention.
In two years, the Abiodun administration has carried out comprehensive rehabilitation of fire stations across the state. He approved construction of more and four brand new Fire and Emergency Stations in Ifo, Ado-Odo/Ota, and Isheri North in Obafemi-Owode local government areas are due for commissioning.
The state has also purchased and taken delivery of 10 new Shacman fire trucks to complement existing ones and aid the Ogun State Fire Service in the discharge of its duties. With these trucks, the state does not have to rely on neighbouring Lagos to fight fire outbreak on the Ogun section of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
A lot of interventions have further demonstrated the fact that the Abiodun-led administration places high premium on health and emergency response. The governor, who met only five functional ambulances on assumption of office, has bought 12 additional ambulances.
With the recent donation of three new ambulances by the BUA Group, the state can now boast of 20 ambulances which have been deployed for its 24-hour ambulance response service across the state. According to the governor, plans were also underway to grow the number of ambulances to over 30 and ensure each state constituency has, at least, an ambulance.
As the nation’s industrial hub, Ogun will definitely need constant supply of electricity to unlock its potentials and attract more investors. Already, there is increased demand for power going by the array of manufacturing industries, hotels and hospitality businesses, public utilities and residences across the state.
Knowing the significance of power in boosting the state’s economy, the governor has engaged operators of state-based Independent Power Plants (IPPs) and partnered relevant technical firms for improved power supply. In addition, he established the Ogun State Energy and Electricity Board to coordinate and integrate all independent power plants operating in the state as part of move to offer embedded power solutions that serve all areas requiring energy.
Although some members of the opposition are wont to diminish the invaluable investments of the governor in education and health sectors, the rehabilitation of public schools across the 236 wards in the state and upgrading of facilities at the various primary health centres, which are visible all over, continued to put the lie to claims of naysayers.
The groundbreaking effort in digital economy is another plus for the Abiodun administration. From all indications, the governor has intensified measures to expand the state’s economy through development of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry. The recent launch of Ogun Digital Economy Infrastructure Project held at the TechHub, Kobape Road, Abeokuta attested to Abiodun’s commitment to encouraging the youths to take advantage of information superhighway and new digital technologies as well as enhancing the ease of doing business in the state.