Funmi Branco: Governor Abiodun, APC primary and the shape of things to come

It is that time of the year when elected representatives of the people are expected to give an account of their stewardship preparatory to their bidding for higher office or another term in their current position. In Ogun State, as in every other state, political scheming and machinations targeted at securing the top job are already at work. Press releases and statements by faceless groups sponsored by political and economic desperadoes, and containing nothing but a rehash of issues already laid to rest by the country’s apex court, are being released to hoodwink the populace. However, regardless of the template and texture of future campaigns of calumny against the Ogun helmsman, one thing stands inviolate: his second term bid is rooted in monumental, verifiable achievements in the last three years.

In the last three years, the Ogun populace has had every cause to be thankful for the kind of leadership provided by their governor. He has been firing on all cylinders, ensuring that the ISEYA mantra comes to reality. From road infrastructure to housing, health, education, agriculture and the digital sector, evidence abounds of policies and plans executed to change the development narrative and take the state to enviable heights. As described by Governor Dapo Abiodun himself, the projects executed by his administration “have the inputs and are informed by the needs of the people as expressed by them at different engagement fora.” This, he avers, “is because we anchor our Building our Future Together Agenda on inclusiveness, equity, fairness, transparency, accountability, justice, and obedience to the rule of law.”

No less a personality than President Muhammadu Buhari attested to this vision in January this year when he inaugurated projects in the state, including the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road, a strategic arterial road that links the Lekki/ Epe corridor of Lagos State to the eastern corridor of Ogun State at Ijebu-Ode, provides a ready alternative to the Lagos/Ibadan expressway for those going to Lekki and adjoining areas, and provides a fillip for socio-economic activities in the South East and South South zones of Nigeria through the linkage of the road to Sagamu-Benin Expressway for easier access by motorists to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest economy. The president inaugurated the 42 km Sagamu Interchange-Abeokuta road, the main arterial road that leads to the state capital, and which comes with a dual carriageway with streetlights, median and other road furniture, vastly redesigned and reconstructed to address the daily challenges being experienced by commuters.

The president lauded the Gateway City Gate, an architectural masterpiece made of composite materials towering to a height of 27m and warmly welcoming visitors to the state, and the two Housing Estates for low, medium and high income earners at Kobape and Oke-Mosan. Kobape has 300 units of one, two and three bedroom flats described as a “Smart City” where people can live, work and play, complete with solar streetlights, sewage system, primary health centre, drainage, water, electricity, tarred road and a police post. And his verdict is quite instructive and ennobling: ‘‘When state governments deliver impactful projects, in consultations with stakeholders, like we have witnessed in Ogun State, the trajectory of our national development will be enhanced.” This verdict becomes extremely hard to contest when the series of fiscal and policy reforms initiated by the Abiodun administration, including the reinvigoration of the Security Trust Fund; establishment of Public-Private Partnership Office; the Ogun Digital Economy Infrastructure Projects, and the Ogun State Land Revenue and Management Systems (OLARMS), are considered together with the business reforms that have ensured that Ogun State is in now Nigeria’s top investment destination.

Watchers of the political developments in Ogun acknowledge the Executive Order aimed at providing 35 per cent representation for women in both government and politics in the state as a good policy. It has been complemented with the re-launching of the popular of Oko’wo Dapo scheme in collaboration with the Nigeria For Women Project (NFWP). Besides, the Agro-Cargo Airport under construction at Illisan-Remo in Ikenne local government area of the state will be ready by May next year. Designated as a heteropolis (complete airport city) because it would have a special agro-processing zone, with factories where raw materials could be turned into final products for export, and would be complemented with the first international testing centre where goods would be evaluated for export, the agro-allied airport will fully complement the agric value chain investments in the state. The airport located on 5, 000 hectares of land has facilities for commerce, industry, cargo handling and logistics, and will consolidate Ogun State’s competitive advantage in the agriculture/ agro-allied and manufacturing industries.

And just what could possibly be the objection to economic growth and social development, as envisaged by the Ogun State government’s recent signing of a $400m Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a foreign firm, Arise Integrated Industrial Platform, on the development of the Olokola Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and Remo Agro Processing Zone, an initiative that has instantly guaranteed about 25,000 jobs in the first instance? The $400m is for the completion of phase one of the projects in the area of agro-processing, and will literally turn the corridor into an industrial hub, with a power plant through which gas can be accessed. With gas transported from Escravos straight to Olokola, the activities in renewable energy, automobile manufacturing, among others, promise to radically transform the Ogun economy and take it to phenomenal heights. With different strata of investments, it is expected to be linked to the agro-airport currently being built in Ilishan Remo.

For the second consecutive time, the Ogun State governor won the Governor of The Year Award in Agriculture organised by the Nigeria Agricultural Award (NAA). The panel of assessors noted the integrated approach to production, processing and marketing through land provisions/inputs distribution, processing and marketing with individuals and corporate organizations; the support for 40,000 smallholder farmers with inputs such as seeds, cassava cutting, insecticide and herbicide during the 2020 planting season; the fertilizers palliatives given to10,000 farmers and continued support across the state; the support given to young farmers with over 900 hectares of land preparations in 17 locations, with some 2,500 unemployed youths and farmers engaging in cassava production; the setting up strategic partnerships with international development partners and farmers in large-scale cultivation of rice and cassava in 36 locations in 11 local government areas, and the empowerment of 54 pilot youths in broiler production with each making profit of N150,000 per cycle for three cycles. They also noted technological innovations and support to farming and related activities, including technical backstopping, demonstration farms and enterprise development.

Given his digital interventions, including the creation of tech hubs and the laying of cable networks to enable access to the internet anywhere in Ogun State; his strides in making business easy and ensuring peace and stability within the state, it is easy to see why Governor Abiodun has been able to consolidate his influence on the Ogun APC strongholds and expand the party’s scope of influence with the attraction of political bigwigs such as Governor Gbenga Daniel, Hon. Dimeji Bankole and Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, Deputy Gov Salmat Badru, Deputy Gov Gbenga Kaka, Deputy Gov Segun Adesegun, the Kashamu group of PDP among many others. Definitely, his outing at the forthcoming APC primaries and the 2023 election promises to be vastly successful.

Branco contributes this piece through

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