By Seyi Bakare
AMONG the states of Nigeria, Ogun has unique qualities. The sociopolitical challenges it confronts are massive. A gateway to the outside world and to the rest of Nigeria, Ogun has the most federal roads, many of them in a deplorable state, and repairing and rehabilitating them costs a fortune. Residents and road users, even if they could tell federal roads apart from state ones, do not see the Federal Government as the point of call: they call upon the Ogun State government to save the day. Work on these roads has eaten deep into the government’s purse, and refunds are not in sight. This burden is in addition to state and local government roads, which even during COVID-19, received utmost attention as the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, stayed focused on his ISEYA agenda.
In spite of the challenges, the governor has stuck to his agenda. Road construction and maintenance are being pursued vigorously, the governor having chosen to depart from the inglorious history in the state where new governors have always tried to derail extant political structures and development projects. Only recently, the administration began the construction of 200 housing units named the Gateway Aviation Village in Iperu, Ikenne Local Government Area. Executed through direct labour, the housing estate will consist of 2-bedroom expandable bungalows, targeting low and medium-class clients.
According to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Jagunmolu Akande Omoniyi, the move is to increase the housing stock in the state, provide housing solutions to the emerging Remo Zone Economic Hub, with the expected influx of workers to the area, and complement the state government’s investment in the Gateway Agro-Cargo Airport. The estate will be fully serviced with all basic amenities like good drains and well-compacted road network, security architecture, lighting and water reticulation, playground, health and educational facilities as well as a Fire Service Station to serve the emerging economic cluster. Anyone who has been to the previously built estates, including Kings Court and Prince Court, etc, cannot doubt the government’s resolve. The government is setting up microfinance outfits in Iperu/Ilishan remo axis to complement agribusiness city that is part of the Gateway Cargo Airport city.
There is also the challenge of urbanization, but it is a challenge the government is most happy to take on. Because of Prince Abiodun’s strategic promotion of the state and the investment opportunities it offers, Ogun is Nigeria’s top investment destination. Industries moving into the country from abroad find the state an ideal location. Again, because Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, has become overcrowded and given the need for expansion, some industries are also moving down to Ogun from Lagos. That means commensurate expansion in the Gateway State’s social and economic infrastructure. The rapid industrialization and urbanization with all the positives also throw up a number of challenges, including those that border on security. For instance, when Lagos banned Okada (motorbike) on its main roads, a majority of the riders found their way to Ogun, hoping to have a clement locale for their trade. The Abiodun government, while allowing motorbikes to operate within well- defined parameters, has sought to ensure that the security concerns that drove Lagos to take its decision are taken care of. Ogun has wifi-enabled, gas-powered buses and tricycles, and ultimately aims at an ultramodern transport system, but it is cutting motorbike riders some slack because of Nigeria’s job situation.
Ogun’s contiguity to Lagos means shared security concerns. Until very recently, one area notorious for cultism in Lagos was Ikorodu, where members of Badoo and other cults killed people and destroyed properties at will and still do. When the Lagos State government flushed them out, some of the criminals found an abode in the Sagamu area of Ogun State and began their nefarious activities there. This is why Sagamu has been in the news for the wrong reasons in the last couple of days. The cultists are trying to make Ogun their new base, but the government has moved in quickly to arrest the development.
Determined to end the menace of cultism, the governor unveiled a multi-pronged strategy: the setting up of special courts to try suspects, enactment of a law prescribing the death sentence for convicted cultists, and offer of amnesty to those who willingly renounce cultism, submit the arms if any, in their possession, and join the government to fight crime.
The governor said: “Let me categorically state that we are more than determined to put an end quickly to the nefarious activities of these hoodlums and enemies of our people; who are hell bent on truncating the peace of our land. Let these urchins be rest assured that the state will be too hot for them to operate as we are re-evaluating the security architecture for greater surveillance and tactical operations.”
Apparently, the strategy is already yielding results as security agencies implement the governor’s directives. Only last week, security operatives tracked six suspected cultists allegedly involved in the violence that erupted in Sagamu to the official residence of a member of the state House of Assembly, picking up those suspects and the member, who represents Sagamu State Constituency (1). The suspects are presently undergoing interrogation. This was sequel to the arrest of nine suspects by the state police command. The imposition of a 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in that axis and the marching orders to the police to ensure that culprits were punished according to the law of the land are yielding results. Besides, the government is conducting training for select persons on drone technology with the expectation that the enormous security architecture provided will ensure the reduction of crime in the state.
On workers, another tranche of N1bn was released for the payment of gratuity within the last two months.
It is note worthy to recall how the governor managed the crisis instigated by the disgraced, now past chairman of Ijebu East Local Government, Wale Adedayo, who alleged diversion of local government funds but had no answer when the government came out with facts and figures that debunked his lies and exposed the shenanigans behind them. The governor’s mature and data-laden response has been hailed by many, including Adedayo’s own colleagues. Besides, many of those who criticized the governor over the demolition of Datkem Plaza have now changed tune, realizing that his government did what a reasonable government would in the face of privileged individuals circumventing building procedure, ignore many warnings, building at night to evade detection; and, worst still, obtaining building approval with a fake company, and then building a structure that is entirely different from the contents of that dubiously obtained approval.
At every point in time, Governor Abiodun has been able to prove to the people of Ogun State that his actions are in their interest. He stands resolute in the face of upheaval and has managed to surmount challenges. The future of Ogun State promises to be great with Prince Abiodun as the pilot.
Bakare sent this piece through firstname.lastname@example.org