December 20, 2012

The Ogun Standard: Measuring Amosun’s pace

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

The Ibikunle Amosun administration claims to have adopted a benchmark for service delivery in the state. Many before have pursued similar dreams and hence the worry on the prospects for the Ogun Standard

MAny had expected Governor Ibikunle Amosun to share in the joy of the people of Ota as his administration prepared to deliver “a dividend of democracy” in the form of a road project to the people earlier this year.

But amidst the pomp around him Governor Amosun was clearly indifferent. “The road is good as it will end the distress of those communities, open up the area and increase commercial activities, but this is not of the Ogun Standard,” the governor retorted.

The Ogun Standard is the latest benchmark in governance in the state aimed at lifting the standard of governance above the usual.

It is a standard that is now being applied across all sectors of governance in the state.

The concept of the Ogun Standard emerged following a two-day investors forum last March when it was resolved that the standard of service on all government projects and the benchmark of service delivery would be raised above the normal.

The state commissioner for Information, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu had following the investors forum defined the “Ogun Standard” as a “high degree of quality, touch of class and uniqueness for which the Gateway State had been known for since its creation.”

For example, by the benchmarks set by the Ogun Standard a road in the state in the words of the Commissioner for Works, Mr. Lekan Adegbite, should “have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years barring willful damage. It will have four or six lanes with drains, sidewalk, median, lighting and greens.”

The Ibara-Totoro Road in Abeokuta delivered by the Amosun administration is a typical example of what its associates like to cite as an example of the Ogun Standard. The six lane highway has the innovation of having a pedestrian bridge that is fully air-conditioned It is a feature that the administration has promised would be replicated on other new roads to be embarked upon by the administration.

Speaking to newsmen early in October, Governor Amosun elaborated on his approach towards building a new standard in Ogun State.

“We are committed to constructing these Ogun Standard roads. I can assure you that though we just have one completed now, several others would be ready by our second anniversary. We should have eight of such roads ready by our second anniversary,” he said.

Following the completion of the Totoro/Sokori/Ita – Eko road, the state government followed up with the award of the contracts for the construction of 14 roads valued at N130 billion.

Gov Amosun

Gov Amosun

The roads include Ilo Awela in Ota, Moshood Abiola Way in Abeokuta, Benin-Shagamu express/Isale Oko junction in Shagamu, and Lafenwa/Aiyetoro/Ajebo Road in Abeokuta.

The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Wemimo Ogunde speaking during the contract award ceremony said the condition of the contract required the contractors to meet the Ogun Standard.

But sustaining the Ogun Standard is, however, not without a price. As in the case of the Ibara-Totoro road, the construction of the road led to the demolition of several houses to give way for the expansion of the road.

Mixed blessings
The demolition was mixed blessing to the citizens. While some including some of the victims welcomed it, if only for the fact that it would pave way for the good road, several others expectedly lamented it and blamed the governor over the demolitions.

Education is one sector where the new administration has also sought to show the Ogun Standard.

After retrieving the missionary schools earlier returned by the previous administration, the new administration has commenced on the construction of new school buildings which it claims would compete with the best in the country.

“We then went on the offensive by renovating 100 blocks of classrooms in  100 schools in 100 days of the administration. By now, the number must have risen to 200. The enrolment figure is increasing every day. We saw the longtime neglect of the schools and so we decided to construct model secondary schools and they will be ready by early next year,” Governor Amosun told state correspondents last October during an interactive session.

“By early next year, 15 of these 26 model schools would be ready. We reverted back to free education and that, to me, is the most important thing. In every one of our primary and secondary schools, each of the students collects between 8 and 12 textbooks depending on the subject he or she is offering. People never believed it is possible but we did it.”

Place for distribution
“We already have bags in place for distribution to those students to safeguard the textbooks. We now have challenges of people willing to come back to public schools in Ogun state.

Every month we have over 3,000 applications of people willing to come to our schools. What does this tells us? It says that public confidence is back in our public schools. It says that we are doing something right.

We have eradicated the menace of overcrowded classrooms. We are also paying the WAEC fees of final year students,” the governor said.

Remarkably, one sector where Governor Amosun has sought to portray the Ogun Standard is the area of security. However, try as he may it is one area that the standard is seriously challenged.

Insecurity in Ogun State is seen in the menace of gun men who at one time compelled the banks in some sections of the state to forcefully close down.

The administration’s effort in addressing was to equip the security agencies an effort that was highly applauded by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar when he received some logistics from the government.

“I have served in all the six geographical zones of this country, I have never seen the kind of equipment you are donating to security agents today.

This is the first of such maximum donation I have ever seen since I have been serving as a police officer,” Abubakar said while receiving some Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs and other logistics provided by the state government.

Remarkably, while the Amosun administration pushes forward with its dreams of the Ogun Standard, the opposition in the state in its lethargy is unable to make a critical appraisal of the actions and inactions of the administration.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is greatly factionalised with the different factions working at cross purposes to the obvious relief of the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in the state.

So, for some time the people in the Ogun State would be left with just the standard that Amosun now espouses.