One year in office: Kudos and knocks for Abiodun

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By Tunde Abatan
…As abandoned projects litter the state
When he was sworn in as the fifth civilian governor of Ogun state since its creation in 1976, Governor Dapo Abiodun was in a double celebration of sorts. It was double because,he clocked his 59th birthday in office.

 

Completed projects

His assumption of office also came in as a challenge because the man he took over the mantle from,now Senator Ibikunle Amosun embarked on big infrastructural development projects which not only transformed Abeokuta the state capital into a modern city but also other strategic towns in the state with huge road infrastructures never seen the state was created.
Hence, much expectation was also expected from Governor Abiodun,a business man in the oil industry to use his business experience to impact positively on the state especially since he came in with very strong opposition by his predecessor who used a new political party,the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) he formed to wrest power having been denied his choice of successor by his party, the All Peoples Congress(APC).

The abandoned bridge on Ijoko Road

Current state of the Ijoko road

Still on Ijoko road

Flooded portion of the Ijoko road as at Thursday, May 28 2020

Hence, with the pre-election acrimony,Governor Abiodun was expected to move quickly to prove his predecessor wrong with sterling performances to prove his predecessor wrong and carve a name for himself by running a development focused government and improve on areas on which not much was done by his predecessors like Education,health and provision of rural infrastructure an where which the state lacked behind in the past seventeen years after Olusegun Osoba,its second civilian governor made a significant mark.
It is however noteworthy that Governor Abiodun also inherited several infrastructural projects which could not be completed by Amosun.

Ijoko road under cinstruction

During his electioneering campaign and when he was sworn in,Governor Abiodun promised to torch all this areas and to complete all on going projects.
Today,twelve months after he assumed office,he has in his own way struggled to set a mark for himself.
It is significant that although it took him six months to assemble a cabinet to work with him in a state people by highly educated,exposed and widely travelled indigenes,yet two of his nominees had various baggages to clear in terms of integrity and track record.

Education:

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But then,in furtherance of his campaign promises,Governor Abiodun even before the formation of his cabinet embarked on renovation and reconstruction of at least one primary school in each of the 236 wards in the state to give citizens sense of belonging.But today,he has built only 94 blocks of classrooms for public primary and junior secondary schools across the states.
To achieve this,he got a princely N10 billion of the Universal Basic Education(UBE) which the government claimed it expended on 952 education projects across the state.
Also in the field of education,Governor Abiodun increased the state budgetary allocation by 20%.
Today,the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) is proud of having in  its bowel, a multi purpose technology centre with a sitting capacity of 3000 persons and equipped with Computers, printers,free-wifi with a training programme to make learning and teaching easier for research.
He also built a similar multipurpose 2000 capacity twin lecture theatre and remodelled the 1500 capacity multipurpose hall,refurbished it’s ICT centre.
He complemented his physical educational infrastructural development in the state by offering automatic employment to the best graduating students in institutions like the OOU,the Tai Solarin University of Education and the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro.

COVID-19:

In response to the challenge posed by the Coronavirus pandemic,his government introduced what it described as Digiclass to provide digital education for students in primary and secondary schools in the state.
It however remains to be seen whether this schools had electricity and in the alternative generating sets to power the facilities. You even ask what is the percentage of students with teaching aids like Tablets of Laptops to accomplish such a task.
In spite of this,Governor Abiodun declared that his government plan” to improve the human capital through greater investment in qualitative education by harnessing innovative and creative strategies for qualitative ,accessible and equitable UBE for all children of primary and Junior secondary school ages.”

Agriculture:

The government have also revived the much talk Anchor Borrowers Programme in the state in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN). The aim according to the government is to eradicate poverty with initiative to provide input service support required. It planned a single digit loan,guaranteed off taker. All this in its bid to fulfill its promise to increase food production.

Public Infrastructure:

Also accomplished is the setting up of Ogun state public works Agency(OGPWA) with the intention of fixing bad and delipidated roads which dots all nooks and crannies of the state.it will be recalled that the Agency was initially set up by a former governor Gbenga Daniel and christened, Ogun Road Maintenance agency and did many jobs among which is the Abeokuta-Kobape-Sagamu road to the admiration of all. Ironically,the agency went into limbo when Daniels administration ended in 2011.
Today,the agency had reconstructed roads in Ilisan,Ijebu ode,Abeokuta and Ota in the Ogun west senatorial district but has truly not match the feverish way in which Governor Amosun did in his first year in office.Besides, most parts of the state especially the rural and semi urban roads crucial to any meaningful development had not seen any significant presence of the men of OPWA. They are escounsed in the more cosmolopolitan areas like Ijdbu Ode,Sagamu ,Abeokuta and Ota,where a link road is being constructed. The deputy Governor,Noimot Salako is from that axis.
In essence, the first year of road development is focused on areas where both leaders hail from and in deference to abandoned roads in other areas of the state.
However, his attention on public infrastructure appears to receive much focus is the on going reconstruction of Ijebu Ode-Epe road. The road which is now under construction is an ambitious 10- lane road which will have 4 lane on each side with one pull out section and a Toll plaza comprising 14 payment points. To ease traffic on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and provide relief for commuters.
But then citizens of Ogun central and west senatorial district which support are crucial to the emergence of any Governor are asking what happened to several road projects in the state on which Governor Abiodun promised to complete and which have now been abandoned,left to rot and with pains and anguish on the citizens most of who have had their houses demolished with little or n compensation.
Lanre Dawodu,a citizen of Ijoun which area had a 110 kilometre economic road under construction by the Amosun administration to link Ilara ,Ilaro and other border areas of the state with Republic of Benin which had no been abandoned and which work is 50% completed.
Said he, “Government is a continuum and of what economic sense is a government abandoning a road that with its economic potentials has gone far in implementing to start a fresh project.
This definitely is political consideration and it does not speak well for somebody who on assumption of office promised to complete all on going projects and to treat all areas of the state equitably”.
While the Ijoun road has lay in ruins,and commercial activities suffer,the Lagos-Epe road is undergoing feverish attention with Governor Abiodun promising to deliver by December this year.
If the people of Ijoun are enraged,the residents of Ijoko,Agbado,Oke Aro,Alagbole,Mode,Ibafo are angry.
Angry because in the past twelve months no noticeable efforts have been made to continue the abandoned 32 kilometre road which till date is the single biggest infrastructural development in the state.
With five flyover and bridges, the axis had the biggest population in the state and being a border area with Lagos,had untapped economic potential than any other part of the state.
Indeed, when he was campaigning,he promised during his whistle stop over that he would complete the road but today,the pains and anguish on citizens who commute to Lagos daily remains undescribable.
Funmi Adewale,a banker who resides in Akute spoke of untold suffering during the rainy season adding, ” some of us with cars have been forced to abandon our cars as the roads have made it impossible to maintain cars while it has also become a death trap since most people now journey on motorcycles aka ‘Okada’ which has replaced commuter buses most of which have been forced out if the road”.
Her lamentation could not be compared to Surveyor Sefiu Akanbi who lost 42 lock-up shops during the demolition carried out eight years ago when the road reconstruction took off is in pains. He is yet to receive a kobo as compensation for his means of livelihood.
He is not alone as many landlords and families who lost houses in Agbado have not been paid and with the abandoning of the flyover, saw no justification for losing their inheritance to a project abandoned midway.
The pains of abadonement of the road becomes more apparent with the activities of miscreants who have turned the Agbado flyover into a dark spot for men of the underworld using the cover of night. Hence,a project that is supposed to bring development and improve the economic life of a once burbling settlement has become a den of armed robbers and other social miscreants.
In agbado,going to work in the wee hours of the day have become the highest risk ever bemoaned Justin Nwachukwu.
“We only hope Governor Abiodun will come and complete this project to bring sanity into this area,restore our businesses and fulfill his campaign promise” he added.
It is instructive to note that Ogun state government last march gleefully announced the success of a $350 million dollar World Bank loan to develop infrastructure in the state.
Indeed,the issue cause friction between Abiodun and former Governor Amosuns supporters who claim it has completed processing of the loan before leaving power.
But Kunle Somorin told Newdawnngr February this year that completion of the long abandoned road is part of this years budget of the state government.
Today,three months after,the Abiodun government is yet to tell citizens how the money which attracts only 1% interest rate would be spent.
If the people of the areas where abandoned projects litter are angry and bitter, residents and elites in the state capital, Abeokuta are asking questions why after twelve months into his administration, the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun and his Deputy, Naimot Salako have refused to move into the Government House and the Deputy Governor’s Lodge as normal their official residences.
Governor since his inauguration on May 29,this year, commutes to the Governor’s Office in Abeokuta everyday either from his country home in Iperu or his palatial home in Banana Island in Lagos.
Newdawn sources, revealed that although the Deputy Governor also come from her Lekki, Lagos home she has in the meantime rented a house in Abeokuta where she stays when not willing to go to Lagos.
The house rented by the Deputy Governor according to our findings was the home of late former chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Sodeinde Sowemimo of the “my hands are tied” fame who presided over the trial of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo during the treasonable trial case in the first republic.
Informed sources revealed to Newdawn said although the official residences of the two topmost government officials were looted by the previous administration, their refusal to renovate and move in were “spiritual”.
The Presidential Lodge which would have served as a “transit camp” for the Governor was said to have also been looted badly while the Deputy Governors Guest House which could have provided same for Mrs. Salako was said to have been sold by the Amosun administration.
The sold guest house was said to have housed the former Deputy Governor when her official residence was being renovated in 2015.
When contacted on the issue, Mr Kunle Somorin,the chief press secretary to the governor,told Newdawngr that the governor and his deputy were !making sacrifices for the state by commuting from long distances since their official residences is undergoing renovation.
But today,nobody is saying anything about a renovation project which started twelve months ago.
It will be recalled that former state governor,Senator Ibikunle Amosun also shunned the governors lodge for a couple of months preferring instead to stay in the Presidential guest house in the government reservation area,often reserved for visiting dignitaries.
It was built during the military regime of military President,General Ibrahim Babangida.

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