Jan 4, 2021

Despite the Pandemic, Ogun Remains in Safe Hands

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In a year that has been mostly ravaged by the corona virus pandemic with the attendant lockdowns and uncertainties, the Ogun State government, helmed by the debonair Governor Dapo Abiodun, has continued to implement the plans behind his Building the Future Together agenda – the kernel of which is to give Ogun State focused and qualitative governance whilst creating the enabling environment for a public-private sector partnership, which is fundamental to the economic growth of the state and individual prosperity of the people of Ogun.

Masked, in adherence with the dictates of the season; and garbed in blue native attire with dark sunshades to match, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the executive governor of Ogun State could, however, not mask his excitement during the inauguration of the Agbeloba Aquaculture Hub in Owiwi, Ewekoro Local Government Area of the state, which is being promoted by the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

There, Governor Abiodun revealed his administration’s plans to have an allied agriculture-based airport to help develop the state as a destination of choice for agriculture in Nigeria, saying, “We are looking to have an airport based on agro-allies from which agricultural products like the ones we have here can be transported by air outside the country and still arrive fresh to other destinations. We are seeing these kinds of things that will complement everything we are doing.”

As he walked around the hub, Governor Abiodun commended the former president for his investment and commitment to agriculture, a sector he described as the surest path out of the poverty and unemployment that plague the country. “We believe that we can grow what we eat and we want to congratulate former President Olusegun Obasanjo for his tireless and continuous preaching. We, as a government, believe in what Baba (Obasanjo) is doing and we will continue to advocate for this because we see ourselves quickly becoming the food basket of this nation,” he said.

The governor added, “It is important to note that Baba (Obasanjo) did not start his agricultural revolution just yesterday. He is a legend who is fondly remembered for his popular farming program ‘Operation Feed the Nation (OFN),’ long before Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited.

“That was 45 years ago when he was Head of State, and aged only 38 years old. At that time, Baba had seen that the future of our great country is in agriculture. And even after leaving office, we are pleased that he did not leave the OFN that he started. It is a reminder that now more than ever; we need another Operation Feed the Nation (OFN). This time, it has to be urgent and with its own initiatives.”

Governor Abiodun said that his administration is confident that the bid to turn the state into a special zone for processing agricultural products would soon become a reality and pointed out that in the next year, at least 5,000 young people from the state will receive mentoring, support and linkage to profitable agro-investment firms as a prelude to setting them up in their respective businesses.

The former president commended the governor for all his initiatives in the area of agriculture and encouraged him not to relent. Indeed, in the last one year, the Abiodun-administration has recorded many achievements in agriculture noteworthy, the launch of the Anchor Borrowers Programme in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). A poverty-eradicating initiative that will provide inputs, service support and training required for farmers through a single-digit loan and guaranteed off-taker, the ABP idea is in fulfilment of Abiodun’s promise to increase food production and create employment opportunities for Ogun people, especially youth and women involved in agriculture and create another avenue to boost the nation’s self-sufficiency in food production. The state has facilitated the crediting of the CBN with over N700Million and 3,500 farmers drawn from all 20 LGAs.

There is the Ogun Broiler Project, which provides day-old chicks, feeds, inputs and training to young farmers and buys the chickens after six weeks.

To date, it is reported that about 9,000 youths have benefitted from the scheme and they make a profit of about N130, 000 in each six-week cycle. There are also the Joint Ogun State and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Value Chain Project, which is ongoing across eight LGAs including Obafemi-Owode, Yewa North & South, Ijebu North & East, Ifo, Odeda and Odogbolu; and the FADAMA Graduate Unemployed Youths Scheme (GUYS), which credited 200 beneficiaries with a total grant of over N74Million with varying individual amounts depending on the chosen agricultural enterprise including cultivation of cassava, maize, rice, yam and vegetables as well as the rearing of poultry, fisheries, piggery, snailry, large ruminants and agro-processing, among others. Worthy of mention also is that the state government has constructed four solar-powered boreholes to make a total of 11 of the type, resulting in 2,500 beneficiaries of the Ogun State Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) having access to safe drinking water while it partnered with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to distribute improved varieties of plantain, banana, and pineapple to 100 farmers as a way to promote increased productivity of farmers.

Amid the extraordinary challenges and uncertainties wrought by the immediate impact of the corona virus pandemic, many governors and political leaders are under pressure not to buckle or bumble in continuing to build a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable society. The acute awareness of this has made Governor Abiodun quicken his pace and double his efforts in all areas of the state’s life. Last May 29, which was the thick of the pandemic when the world had literally ground to a halt, the Abiodun administration clocked one year in office and the governor also clocked 60 years old. There was, however, no celebration or fanfare to mark the momentous day.

But the governor made a state-wide address during which he reeled out his administration’s achievements. He agreed that the pandemic tested his administration’s effectiveness but, “Because we are a government that has 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…and we have been able to record notable achievements in all sectors of our dear state in the last one year.”

Pivoting his achievements on the ISEYA acronym (meaning Infrastructure, Social Welfare and Wellbeing, Education, Youth Development, and Agriculture and Food Security), the governor disclosed that as a quick fix mechanism to address the deplorable condition of roads when he came into office, the Ogun State Public Works Agency which is proving to be efficient and responsive in rehabilitating intra and intercity roads was established. He listed several intra-city roads that had either been rehabilitated or newly constructed, surmising, significantly, that the very essential Ijebu-Ode – Epe Road, a major link between Ogun and Lagos States and an alternative to the busy Lagos -Ibadan expressway, which had been in a state of disrepair leading to abandonment by commuters for several years, is now nearing completion.

Governor Abiodun said, “But for the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirement for physical distancing, we would be formally commissioning some of these roads as part of the activities marking the first anniversary. Nonetheless, I am happy to report that the activation of some of the completed projects, is on-going for immediate use and benefit of the good people of Ogun State, thus, bringing relief to the large population of our people who commute on these roads on daily basis, either to go to work or to journey to neighbouring states.”

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