By Femi Ogbonnikan
In an egalitarian society, the welfare of the citizenry is the central focus of good governance. Endowed with abundant human and natural resources, Ogun State under Governor Dapo Abiodun is no doubt poised for a steady socio-economic growth and development. Its proximity to Lagos State as well as common borders with neighbouring communities in the Republic of Benin further places the state at a vantage position.
Ojodu-Berger (Lagos)/Akute and Isheri (Ifo Local Government Area in Ogun), Alakuko (Lagos)/Sango-Ota (Ogun), Mowe/Ibafo (Obafemi/Owode Local Government Area of Ogun state), Ogijo (Ogun)/Odogunyan/Ikorodu (Lagos), Epe (Ogun)/Ijebu-Ode (Ogun), among others, are communities that are contiguous to one another. As a next door neighbour to Lagos, Ogun State has always been a sure destination for population explosion drifts. Thus, internally generated revenues accruing from these communities are worked out by both states and remitted to the appropriate quarters for the provision of basic amenities for the people.
In furtherance of the long standing relationship between the two states, the Ogun governor is now more than ever before desirous of harnessing the great opportunities for an improved internally generated revenue for sustainable development.
To this end, the governor, in collaboration with his Lagos State counterpart, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have come together under a joint development plan to synergise on how best they can both harness the abound opportunities the two states have in common. For the first time, excitement is high that the collaboration will be a catalyst for rapid socio-economic development. This is more so, as the two states have too many things in common, ranging from closeness in border, migration-emigration, and business establishment to manpower needs, among others.
Often times, people refer to Lagos and Ogun to what New York is to New Jersey (United States of America).
And it is on this note that both governors have resolved to formulate an integration plan to foster socio-economic growth and development of the two states.
At a recent engagement with critical business stakeholders at his Oke Mosan office, Abeokuta, the governor pledged the commitment of his administration to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
His words: “We intend to ensure that going forward, we focus on creating that enabling environment for people to come here and invest in the state.
Before you come here to invest in the state, you will want to see electricity, good roads, security and others. These are the things that anyone coming to invest in Ogun State will want to see. We have also decided that we are going to have an improved investment promotion agency that will be headed by an investment banker, not just someone who doesn’t have what it takes to bring investment into the state.
Reminiscent of his electoral promises during his electioneering tour across the state, Abiodun made it clear that his articulated vision was hinged on his private sector experience.
Having criss-crossed the entire state, the tour afforded him and his campaign train ample opportunities to relate with the people and identify their issues of concern.
Having put in place the first four-year plan which is expected to translate to a focused and qualitative governance, all is now set for the administration to deliver on those plans as envisaged in the vision.
Since his assumption of office on May 29, 2019, the main pre-occupation of the Abiodun-led administration in the state has been the welfare of both the public and civil servants. Despite a near-empty treasury he inherited from his predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun, the governor has made good his promises to the staff of the state government. What with his avowed commitment to prompt payment of salaries as and when due, with or without funds Federal Allocation Account, having defrayed 18 months of workers’ outstanding backlogs the immediate past administration owed them. Audited reports indicate that a total sum of N7bn is the monthly wage bill of the state government workers and this unsavoury development has begun to raise questions about the rot in the sum of N9.5bn the immediate past administration claimed it incurred in its 96 months in office.
Another enabler for good governance, identified is the issue of security. As a catalyst for economic growth and development, it is established that security plays dominant roles for enthroning sanity in society. Commendably, the governor strongly believes that the most difficult issue and it is most disturbing today is security.
Ogun State, today, has the largest number of industries in the country. With Lagos, at a time, being the Federal capital of Nigeria, on account of the access to seaports, most of these companies found it convenient to locate in Lagos.
But the federal capital was moved to Abuja when it became obvious that Lagos had become congested and soon afterwards, the next state of reckoning for potential investors is to come knocking at the neighbouring Ogun State which shares proximity to the “Centre of Excellence”.
As the name implies, “Gateway State”, the Lagos/Ibadan expressway passes through the state and with that, it is bordered with other states. So, also, it shares common borders with the Republic of Benin, and this calls for security challenges.
It is therefore imperative to make adequate provisions for security which is a driving force to making the state the economic capital or economic hub of the country.
Already, plans are underway to rejig the state’s security trust fund which was in place before, but has got nothing to show for. With a bill already sent to the House of Assembly for amendment, the new security trust fund will now function like it should function, as it is obtainable in Lagos.
The objectives of the fund are to provide funds for security agencies, on the things that they need to ensure that they are able to police and protect the state adequately. Procurement of vehicles, communication equipment, kits, drones, investment in tracking devices and motivation for the personnel are germane to complementing the efforts of the police and other sister agencies responsible in crime-fighting.
The governor has promised to award the contract for the reconstruction of the Lagos/Epe/Ijebu-Ode road soon. The road is very important for the people of the state and those coming from the Mid-Western and Eastern parts of the country.
By doing this, it is believed that it would ease the volume of traffic often occasioned along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.
Similarly, the administration is looking at other alternative roads for which the Lagos/Epe/Ijebu-Ode, like the Sagamu/Ikorodu road on the one hand, and the Lagos/Ota/Abeokuta road on the other hand.
Of greater importance, government has identified two industrial clusters for enhanced economic growth and development of the state, with the government paying serious attention to the provision of basic amenities for industries operating within the business environments. The identifiable two clusters include Agbara and Sagamu/Isiun interchange.
On the other corridor, where industries are located, for instance, the Lagos/Ibadan and Ikorodu/Sagamu roads, the state government has appealed to the Federal Government to rehabilitate those roads through the PPP. The same thing goes for the Sango-Ota and Abeokuta roads. We have no alternative roads between Lagos and Ogun states. However, the Agbara/Lusada road is terribly bad.
The companies there have applied to the Federal Government to repair the roads and get tax concessions.
The slow pace of governance, as being touted by the opposition, is not deliberate. The administration of Abiodun is on track and is taking its time to give the best to the people with fair, just, equitable and participatory governance through the composition of the much-expected cabinet.