It’s Time To Let Go Of ‘Amosun Bashing
From the time the incumbent, Prince Dapo Abiodun, was declared winner of the governorship election in March, the then sitting governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, became the punching bag of some opinion writers who used all available opportunity to attempt to cast him in an ignoble light. From his person to his achievements, Amosun was denigrated and made to look like a monster who spent eight years in office doing next to nothing and his last days in office plotting to prevent Prince Dapo Abiodun from succeeding him. It was made to look like the inauguration of Dapo Abiodun might not be allowed to be by the media re-branded Amosun…
Finally, May 29th has come and Dapo Abiodun has taken over. Amosun obviously has moved on to prepare for his next assignment. It is time for us, Ogun indigenes to be on our watch to ensure that our state does not regress as a result of the residual bad politics fostered by the orchestrated anti-Amosun sentiments of the last few months.
The sort of sophistry and outright misrepresentation of facts Ogun citizens need to collectively stand up against have started gathering. In fact, some of them came up on the Back Page of The Nation edition of Wednesday 29th May in an opinion piece by Dele Agekameh titled ‘Dapo…Go for Gold’. The same piece was featured in an online platform, Premium Times, on the same day. I seek the permission of all to quote some parts of the write up.
Inter alia, Agekameh said “…Before his victory, Abiodun vowed to run a “mass-centric” model of governance in Ogun state, which focuses on ordinary people of the state and direct impact on their livelihood, in place of needless white elephant projects and governmental showmanship… Ogun state has long been in the shadow of Lagos state… With a good strategy and focusing on development in the border towns with Lagos and increased partnership with the illustrious neighbours, Ogun state stands to gain so much, in terms of employment and investment that may be saturated in Lagos. With parts of Lagos and Ogun already indistinguishable in reality, the goal should be to capitalize and tap from the huge opportunities available to both states…
Abiodun has spoken repeatedly about the importance of investing in human capital. It is an investment area where the country is currently lacking. The is so much pressure to lay much needed infrastructure, but many infrastructural projects have been dragging down public purse for many years, well past their estimated completion dates and many times over the budget. Human capital is an investment that guarantees returns if handled properly, even contributing to the demands for infrastructure in the long run.
The new governor believes that people are capable of phenomenal things if an enabling environment is provided, and he appears to be willing to focus on harnessing the potential inherent in the people to take Ogun forward. In that respect, education, health and creation of employment are key. Since the tech industry is growing and in demand globally, creation of tech hubs and incubators in partnership with the large number of educational institutions in the state may be one way forward…
Harnessing human capital potential also includes guaranteeing security for the people of Ogun state. The laws and political structuring of the country at the moment currently makes it difficult for state governors to tackle security problems within their states, as the apparatus for security is centralized. However, a dedicated leader can find innovative ways to secure the state through involvement and engagement of people at community level, where in-grown solutions can be conceived and proferred, with recommendations made to federal agencies. The current bandit problem in the country leaves all states exposed, and Ogun state has witnessed activity from the bandits in the past…”
The truth is that till date, Prince Dapo Abiodun has yet to engage Ogun citizens on his mission and vision for the state. No document, blueprint or codified set of programmes he intends pursuing as the bedrock of his administration’s covenant with Ogun people. While we await such, it is important to note that if truly Dele Agekameh’s write up is a window into what to expect the Dapo Abiodun administration to pursue as its cardinal objectives, then Ogun may have been fleeced already. For the avoidance of doubt, Ogun State has moved far beyond that level.
For record purposes, the immediate administration worked from 2011 to 2018 from a well known blueprint tagged “Mission to Rebuild” whose immediate focus areas included safety and security of lives and properties; developing an ambitious plan for infrastructural development; and immediate and continuous engagement with the private sector to achieve fast paced industrialization of the state. That was a voluminous document that clearly spelt out how that administration intended to engender a robust transformation of the state on diverse fronts. And as at the time Amosun left on May 29th, Ogun State had been transformed indeed from a civil-service based agrarian economy into a flourishing industrial destination of choice.
This writer is not an Amosun mouthpiece. However, having had the privilege of listening to and seeing a hard copy of the immediate governor’s farewell speech where he gave a detailed account of his administration’s achievements from 2011 to 2018 (including projects, interventions, allocations, finances et al), one could say that the impression being created and sustained in the media that the new administration was coming in to govern a backward state is, to say the least, dishonest.
All well meaning Ogun indigenes should endeavor to lay their hands on the Amosun Farewell Speech in order to set a clear performance bench mark as well as progressive agenda for the new Dapo Abiodun administration. This is the least we can do for our dear state.
Lest we forget, upon the inauguration of the Amosun administration for its first term in 2011, a peer review exercise conducted by the policy consultant to the then Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Mr. Ilyasu Gashinbaki, came up with an assessment report of the states.
According to the report, Ogun state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) was then at N730m and the State was ranked at 29th position in terms of fiscal sustainability. It was also ranked as 35th out of 37 States including FCT, in terms of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rating in Nigeria, at that time.
According to 2007 GDP estimates, Ogun State was ranked ninth in the country with regards to GDP, with approximately $10.5billion GDP when the State’s population, based on the 2006 census, was about 3.75 million and 16th among the 36 states in Nigeria.
As at the sunset of the Amosun administration in 2019, the population of the state has grown from 3.75m to 7.2m; the IGR profile has grown from N730m to N6bn; the state is consistently in the top 4 in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking; Ogun State is now the most fiscally sustainable State in the country with its IGR at 65% of its total foreign and domestic debt and, as per the latest BudgiT report of 2018, the State is ranked second in Per capital income to IGR. And while Ogun ranks 32nd in the list of the Total Net FAAC Allocations to States, it occupies an enviable 3rd position in the IGR Rankings, behind Lagos and Rivers, according to the 2018 BudgiT report.
In the area of education, Ogun State of today is the education capital of Nigeria. The State has 1,562 public primary schools; 503 public secondary schools; 8 Government Science and Technical Colleges; 5 Special Needs schools, 1,131 Private Secondary Schools; and 4,124 Private Primary Schools; 3 State Universities; 1 State College of Education; 1 College of Health Technology; 6 State Polytechnics; and 1 Petro-Gas Institute.
For most of its tenure, the Amosun administration ensured that 20%-22% of its budget was devoted to the education sector. It also recorded achieved several notable partnerships and collaborations with several globally respected entities. Some of these included Samsung on the provision of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) multi-media center in Ogun State Model College at Kobape; Samsung Heavy Industries Korea on the multi-million Naira Construction, equipping and training of master trainers for the Ogun State Technical Institute at Idi-Aba along with the upgrade and modernisation of culinary skills facilities at the old ‘Olobe lo loko’ also at Idi Aba. There was also the collaboration with Teach for Nigeria, which deployed over 100 of their scholars in Ogun Primary schools to infuse modern teaching methodologies at the basic level of education across the state; the partnership with GT Bank Plc. through their support on Autism and other intellectual disabilities program where over 400 families benefitted; the partnership with the CoCreation Hub on a multipronged approach towards the improvement of the teaching of STEM through the GO-Ga project, a European funded program that is being deployed in Kenya, Benin and Nigeria.
Of course, the anticipated World Bank investment in overhauling the States Technical and Vocational skills program and implementation of STEM in Ogun secondary schools is expected to be the largest of the partnership initiatives midwifed by the Amosun administration.
In the area of Maternal and Child Health, the Under-5 mortality rate reduced from 97 per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 66 per 1,000 live births in 2017. This rate is just about half of the national average. Likewise, Maternal Mortality in Ogun State, as measured by national surveys in 2017 was 179 per 100,000 live births, and when compared to the national average of 576 per 100,000, it could be seen that under the Amosun administration, Ogun State was three times better than the national average of Nigeria.
In the area of industrialization, the Amosun administration was able to attract over 400 new industries into the State during its 8-year tenure. Now, more than ever, industries and entrepreneurs from within Africa and around the world are choosing Ogun State as their preferred investment destination. This is not just a claim, but one that is corroborated by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). Data collated by MAN revealed that between 2014 and 2016, Ogun State attracted a 75 percent share of the total Foreign Direct and Local Investment into the manufacturing sector. Over 100 new significant companies, some of which have individually invested between a minimum of $200million and in excess of $2billion, have opened shop between 2011 and 2018. These ranged from the manufacturing of household materials, beverages, security equipment, automobiles and mining, among others.
This change in profile has continued to reflect in the State’s annual IGR rates, which was more than doubled from N34.6billion in 2015, to N73billion in 2016 and continued into 2018. With the State’s IGR growing at an annual average of 59.56% between 2013 and 2017, it today contributes over 74.08% to the State’s total revenue.
One has taken the pains to dig up and present the above facts, among many others which are very well on ground in our dear Ogun State to show that the new administration is not coming in to take over a failed, failing or regressing state.
In the spirit of true “people-centric” developmental politics, it is fair to acknowledge that the immediate past administration has truly kickstated the genuine process of wealth creation and industrial revolution to make Ogun a very developed state in the next decade.
It is no gainsaying, then, that Ogun State is growing and thriving. It is no longer “in the shadow of Lagos…”. Thanks to the immediate past administration’s gigantic efforts, the foundation for Ogun State to be the most economically viable State in Nigeria has already been laid. With what is on ground now, all well meaning Ogun indigenes now feel so confident that their dear State can become the leading economic hub in Nigeria by 2030.
All that is required is for the new Dapo Abiodun administration to shun the politics of deceit and propaganda (for which APC, as a party, is becoming unfortunately tainted) and work hard to sustain the momentum of development in order for Ogun State’s huge potential to be maximally transformed into opportunities for the good of all.
Babjide Anigilaje is the Convener of ‘Let’s Look Out’, a socio-political Advocacy group based in Abeokuta, Ogun State