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OPINION : Abiodun: Double Portions From A Tripartite Covenant

Kunle Somorin

Sometimes, destiny has a way of playing a fast one of mortals or giving them a reason to tie their journeys to certain events, past or future. Whether many subscribe to it or not, there are things we identify with or are identified by that tell some stories about our personality. For instance, some people believe that when it rains during a funeral, the deceased is most likely heading to paradise. Others attach coincidental accomplishments to the “good legs” of a newborn or a newlywed.

I hadn’t given many of those interpretations much thought until recently when I stopped taking the birth date of one great Nigerian for granted. On May 29, 2019, Prince Dapo Abiodun was first sworn in as the chief executive officer of the Gateway State. Coincidentally, May 29 happens to be the governor’s birthday. These days, I can’t help but tell myself that this illustrious man was born on political transition day for a reason!

Though not many will agree that he’s the best governor the 48-year old state has had, but most are in agreement that he’s one governor that has fought more battles than his predecessors in the hands of one of them. Many more will say he did his very best, brought panache, élan, commitment, focus and through fortuitous circumstances achieved inclusive governance in the face of daunting challenges and intimidation. So far, he has provided answers to opposition from within his political party and outside opposition outside his party have been tamed with a carrot and stick mentality and genteel assemblage of forward-looking politicians and inveterate technocrats in his cabinet in a manner that has changed the face of governance in the state, permanently.

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. Within five years, his clear template and deliberate action plan on how to transform the state by implementing the “Building Our Future Together” agenda, has yielded unprecedented results. His five developmental columns of I-S-E-Y-A: Infrastructure; Social Development and Well-being; Education; Youth Development, and; Agriculture and Food Security are unmatched by any state governor in Nigeria.

From the dismal public infrastructure he inherited roads: rural and urban, water, electricity and housing, the song changed the deleterious landscape on Ijebu-Ode-Mojoda expressway to Epe in Lagos State, the Sagamu Interchange to Abeokuta will make most governors in other states green with envy. Even the intra-city roads from Ilaro to Ilara, Ajebo to Ajenbadele, Odeda to Odogbolu, Iwopin to Iwoye, Iperu to Ipokia, Sango- Ota to Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode to Ijoko, Igbesa to Igbogila, the story has been that of transformation.

By prioritizing the construction and rehabilitation of roads. From the day he was sworn in – his birthday – the governor made a solemn vow to the people of Ogun that infrastructure, especially good road network, was crucial to his administration’s investment drive. That is why roads across the state are being aggressively constructed and rehabilitated. This also led him to establish the Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA). Within the past five years, the governor has either completed or is working on roads in all of its 20 local government areas, spanning almost a thousand kilometres and mainly Federal Government (Trunk A) roads.

An accomplished businessman, Prince Abiodun was always keen on exploring the opportunities presented by Ogun’s geo-location. To him, 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. He established investment agencies, such as the Ogun State Enterprise Development Agency (OGSEDA), to provide entrepreneurial literacy services, capacity development and access to start-up capital to support Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

These, most times, in in line with his late dad’s directive before he came into office and in consonance with the “tripartite covenant between me and God, on one part, to serve Him and reciprocate His faithfulness through the journey so far by being a tool to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of Ogun State people, regardless of creed, gender and political affiliation. On the other part, it is also a covenant with the good people of Ogun State.”

Five years may not amount to much, yet DA’s Midas touches are everywhere. The governor that has triple internally generated fund from N50bn to N150bn is making good on his promises, distributing social infrastructures evenly in all parts of the state, whether assessed via senatorial districts, or the well-known ethno-geographical classifications, namely Remo, Ijebu, Yewa and Egba, which we know as “RIYE”. In housing, for instance, close to 4000 units of flats have constructed in Kemta-Idi Aba, Kobape in Abeokuta, Ilaro, and Sagamu, beside the avant-garde, urban regeneration buildings across our Government Reserved Areas and the Muhammadu Buhari Estate in the State capital. Also, the administration is changing the landscape with urban renewal and blazing the trail in public transportation with compressed natural gas (CNG) buses. Of course, the agro-cargo airport is an icing on the cake.

Recently, when many states were experiencing protests as a result of the high cost of living crisis, Prince Abiodun was unfazed by any risk of a spillover into his state. While there were protests elsewhere, the people of Ogun State were receiving a very unique kind of Valentine’s Day present, as the governor rolled out palliatives worth over ₦5 billion to reduce hardship during the current cost of living crisis and to better the lives of people. Prince Abiodun his government was not oblivious nor insensitive to the challenges being faced by the citizens and would leave no stone unturned to ensure that succour came to the people. He also appreciated the perseverance, patience and understanding of all residents in the state, assuring them that the present economic situation is just a transient phase that will soon pass.

Having traversed the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, I know the long way social interventions go in the lives of people. When I served as his official spokesperson, I was surprised by the foresight, diligence and effectiveness with which the governor goes about impacting the lives of Ogun people. The provision of a minimum of five exercise books for all 850,000 students in public primary and secondary schools, as well as a one-off N10,000 education support grant for at least 100,000 pupils and students in public primary and secondary schools in the state, is already extraordinary. Then he announced the provision of N50,000 each to all 27,600 of its indigent students in tertiary institutions nationwide as an education grant! He didn’t stop there, food palliatives, such as rice, vegetable oil and other items are being provided for 300,000 households across the state. Part of the initiatives is the commitment of N500 million towards the offsetting of the backlog of deductions from civil servants’ entitlements and additional N1bn quarterly gratuities to retirees inherited from the previous administration. There is a reason why Ogun State is peaceful!

Prince Abiodun has hacked the cheat code of good governance at the sub-national level and has demystified quality leadership in such a way that makes his shoes already heavy for his predecessor. What’s more, he has been able to do so just five years out of the eight years of two terms the constitution permits him to spend as a governor. Only God knows how unmatched his legacy will be by the time he bows out on May 29, 2027… Again, on his birthday!

Born on 29 May 1960 to the late Dr. Emmanuel Abiodun and Mrs. Victoria Abiodun in Iperu Remo, Ogun State, Prince Abiodun comes from the royal family of Iperu. He attended the prestigious Christ’s School Ado Ekiti and later St. Joseph’s College, Ondo before earning a 1986 BBA in Accounting from Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia. He has also been a serial entrepreneur and Chairman of the board of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) before winning against all odds the governorship election of Ogun State in March, 2019.

His vision to give Ogun State focused and qualitative governance and to create the enabling environment for a public-private sector partnership, which is fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and individual prosperity of the people of Ogun has transformed the state within three years. His “Building Our Future Together” agenda has been diligently and dutifully pursued so much that even old adversaries have closed ranks and keyed into his vision.

His giant strides have also made several prestigious awards knocking at his door, including the SUN newspaper Governor of the Year award presented to him in February and the Independent Newspapers Governor of the Year (Tech Innovation) award for the year 2023 presented to him in March. In 2023, Prince Abiodun won the Forbes Best of Africa award in the industrial revolution in 2023. He won the LEADERSHIP Governor of the Year Award 2022 and the Vanguard’s Governor of the Year Award 2021. He has also won the Governor of the Year Award at the Nigerian Agricultural Awards 2020 for producing 40,000 new, youthful agriprenuers under the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme.

On this occasion of his 64th birthday, I warmly congratulate Prince Dapo Abiodun and wish him more success in the task of creating a better future for the people of Ogun State. And for one reason, I docket the democracy dividends Ogun people are enjoying in his tenure to his “good legs” of being born on the day of Nigeria’s political transition and his vow on that day five years ago. Indeed, it is double portions of honour for the man with a tripartite covenant with God and his employers – the people of Ogun State!

• Somorin, former Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, writes from Abeokuta

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