By Kunle Somorin
While signing the State 2022 Appropriation Bill into law on December 29, 2021, Governor Dapo Abiodun, referenced the axiom of the late political sage and former Premier of Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo that “after the rain comes sunshine; after darkness comes the glorious dawn.
There is no sorrow without its alloy of joy; there is no joy without its admixture of sorrow.
Behind the ugly mask of misfortune lies the beautiful, soothing countenance of prosperity.” His locus was to the preceding years – 2020 and 2021 – bedeviled by the disruptions and destructions of monumental proportions across the world – occasioned by, COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s conviction that 2022 will be a much better year.
He admitted that the pandemic had slowed down the pace of the implementation of the government programmes, constrained revenues, impose huge and unplanned expenditures on the state. However, he enthused that efforts were made to safeguard public health, welfare and “we marched on with an unwavering commitment to initiate and complete but could not commission them due to the COVID-19 protocols that restricted the size of social gatherings.”
Some of the projects being referred to include the Gateway City Projects, over 1000 housing units – more housing projects than the past administrations in the state – and about 600 kilometres of roads that were either rehabilitated or reconstructed in the intervening season of anomie. Notwithstanding the misnomer, Abiodun said Ogun State still recorded landmarks other successes in socio economic development and won several awards in education, housing, agriculture, information communication technology ICT.
For him, COVID-19 is a passing phase and his optimism for 2022 is premised upon the fact that the mutations of the pandemic have now been better understood, new management protocols identified and vaccines developed. What’s more, the virus capacity to spread and the severity of the infection has been largely reduced for those who have been vaccinated and the State has the enviable record of being the Best Performing State in the ongoing Mass Vaccination Campaign against COVID-19, according to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).
To take the State to the next level, the governor said his Administration will be leveraging on its methodical approach to governance and the solid foundation laid for the implementation of its programmes and projects even before the advent of the pandemic. No wonder, the
2022 Appropriation Bill he signed is aptly christened “Budget of Restoration”. The kernel of the sobriquet is that the Administration’s first full year budget, prepared in line with our vision for a life more abundant for the good people of Ogun State in 2020 will come on stream in full throttle.
The N350.735bn Budget of Restoration bill had earlier been presented to the Ogun State House of Assembly on November 30, 2021, where the governor urged assemblymen to speedily but thoroughly consider the bill. To underscore the synergy between the State Legislature and the Executive, the only adjustment made to the bill before being passed by the lawmakers was the reduction of the recurrent expenditure from the initial N172.997bn to N153.180bn, resulting in N19.816bn decrease, while capital expenditure was increased from N177.737bn to N197.554bn, giving an increment of N19.816bn.
In his New Year’s Day address to the people of Ogun a few days after signing the 2022 budget into law, Governor Abiodun confidently expressed optimism that Ogun would continue on the path of growth and development it had set for itself since 2019 when he assumed office. “In my first New Year Address on January 1st 2020, I provided a highlight of our deliberate, focused and methodical approach to the implementation of the Building Our Future Together Agenda of our administration, and how this would be implemented in the five Development Pillars – I.S.E.Y.A.
“The hope for a much better year 2022 is rooted in our faith in God and several achievements that your government, our administration, has recorded since you entrusted us with your mandate in 2019. The steady progression is verifiable with visible projects across our dear State,” Abiodun said in his live broadcast on New Year day.
Indeed, the people of Ogun have a legitimate reason to be optimistic about 2022. Since Abiodun became governor in 2019, there has been a paradigm shift in and approach to governance. The Dapo Abiodun administration’s systematic approach to governance, which saw him lay a solid foundation for the implementation of deliberate policies, programmes and projects within the first six months in office, has led to predictable yet unprecedented success in the socio-economic transformation of the state.
Recall that the governor, while making a similar broadcast in 2020, highlighted a clear template and deliberate action plan on how he intended to transform the state by implementing the “Building Our Future Together” agenda, hinged on the five developmental columns of I-S-E-Y-A: Infrastructure; Social Development and Wellbeing; Education; Youth Development, and; Agriculture and Food Security.
The understanding of the governor, then and now, is that socio-economic development cannot occur without revenue mobilisation, massive infrastructural development and security. In terms of investment opportunities, Prince Dapo Abiodun was keen on exploring the prospect presented by Ogun’s unique geographical location. To Governor Abiodun, the state’s proximity to Lagos and its gateway status to the West African market through Benin Republic should propel the state into economic prosperity.
While Ogun has been buoyed by the sheer investment in road construction and rehabilitation under Abiodun, the governor is also ensuring that investment in infrastructure is not limited to road construction alone. Technology, human capital and strong structural institutions are also areas receiving heavy investment as part of the socio-economic transformation value chain. It is worthy to note that, within Prince Abiodun’s first year in office, Ogun investment drive was already technology-driven, with tech and ICT hubs and incubation centres providing the necessary know-how to catalyse economic growth.
The result of strategic investment in infrastructure as a panacea for businesses to choose the state as their preferred investing investment destination was there for all to see in 2021.
For instance, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), in its 2021 second quarter report for investment announcement, put the estimated investment into Ogun State at $500 million, making the state the preferred investment destination representing 30 per cent of the total announcement in Q2. Lagos State, with $441.3 million worth of investment announcement representing 26 per cent, was second in the quarter under review. The NIPC report showed that 14 projects were covered in the investment announcement in manufacturing, energy, information and communication, as well as real estate; areas evidently targeted in Abiodun’s I-S-E-Y-A agenda.
In terms of security, within the first 100 days of his administration, Prince Abiodun inaugurated a committee to oversee the review of the Ogun State Security Trust Fund, and gave the signing of its new law an accelerated seal of approval. With the Ogun State Security Trust Fund up and running, the security architecture in the state has been reinvigorated.
Within 100 days in office, Prince Abiodun invited the then Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, to launch 100 patrol vehicles, 200 security motorcycles and other security equipment acquired by his administration as part of efforts to boost security in the state. The governor also inaugurated Ogun State’s wing of the South West Joint Security Outfit, also known as Amotekun, to complement the efforts of other security agencies to further strengthen the security architecture of the state. Operatives of the state’s Amotekun were carefully selected, trained and equipped for effective crime detective and bursting operations.
It is also not by chance that Ogun is rated top among states on the Ease of Doing Business index. One of the steps taken to attain that enviable status is by strengthening regulatory frameworks. For instance, the launch of the Ogun State Land Administration and Revenue Management System (OLARMS), which is being implemented to digitalise land acquisition for both ease and efficiency has seen the upgrade of the Geographic Information System (GIS) for a more transparent land administration. It demonstrates, once again, the commitment of the present administration in Ogun State to continue to build an assured future together with the people by constantly seeking to improve how business is being conducted in the state.
Of course, road construction and rehabilitation constitutes the hallmark of the aggressiveness with which Governor Abiodun is going about infrastructure development.
Already, about 300km of roads have been constructed or rehabilitated so far, including the 42km Sagamu-Abeokuta Interchange and the 14km Ijebu Ode-Mojoda-Epe Road. Another 300km are at various stages of completion. Abiodun also promised 2,500 new housing units within four years and has delivered over 1,000 units, with another 1,000 ready for commissioning this year.
There are more to come for the development of Ogun in 2022. If the governor’s New Year’s Day speech and budgetary provisions for 2022 are anything to go by, huge projects, such as the Ogun agro-cargo airport, Ilishan-Remo and the Attan-Lusada Agbara Road which leads to West Africa’s largest industrial hub, are going to take shape this year. There are also provisions for Ilaro-Owode Road; Sagamu-Iperu-Sapade Road; Aiyetoro Imasayi Road; Ilase KokoAlare Road; Muslim College Road, Ijebu Igbo and many others.
Priority attention will be accorded Ijoko-Akute-Alagbole Road; Siun-Owode Road; Ilishan-Ago Iwoye Road; and Tagbunrin Road in Ogun Waterside; as well as the Ikangba Ilese and Esure Road in Ijebu Igbo. Through Public Private Partnership, the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta and Ota-Idiroko roads will receive priority attention to put an end to the sufferings of people and businesses that use and depend on those two very strategic roads.
Transportation, healthcare delivery and social wellbeing are expected to receive big boosts as well. The implementation of the multi-modal transportation master plan will commence in 2022 with the launch of the bus mass system, while government will continue to rehabilitate and equip primary healthcare facilities, with the aim of ensuring functional health facilities in all 236 wards in the state. “Oko’wo Dapo” is making a revitalised and revamped comeback in 2022 for the social wellbeing of traders, who constitute the backbone of micro and small enterprises in the state.
Having launched the biggest Information Communication Technology (ICT) hub described as an innovation focal point that provides ideal conditions for entrepreneurs to collaborate, flourish and accelerate the growth of their businesses, 2022 will witness investment in fibre optic cable to connect Ogun to the Internet Super Highway to enhance the Ogun Technopreneurship Programme (OTP) which has the crucial objective of nurturing high quality ideas in various industries to become tech-startups and Tech-SMEs.
Judging by the 2022 Budget of Restoration, healthcare, education and manpower will benefit from improved funding, provision of infrastructure and the prioritisation of welfare of personnel.
There are reasons to be upbeat about the prospect of governance in 2022 in Ogun. Even when the outbreak of COVID-19 disrupted economic and social activities in 2020 and better part of 2021, the response in Ogun was swift and decisive.
Although the pandemic created a setback, how the state responded and is responding to the situation led to a significant level of public confidence marked in the gradual return to normalcy experienced in the state. Ogun has never been better positioned to stake its claim when it comes to collective prosperity and it is not hard to see why its government and good people are bullish about 2022.
….Somorin is Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Ogun State