By Jacob Apagbo
He may be consistently railed at by naysayers seeking to draw him into undue political brickbats as the campaigns for the 2023 general election intensify, but the fifth democratically elected governor of the Gateway State seems to be focused squarely on his developmental agenda. When he was sworn in as governor on his 59th birthday in 2019, he promised to work with the people to build a prosperous future, and available evidence of massive investment in social infrastructure, business development and social security validates the feeling that this remains his priority. Refusing to abandon projects initiated by his predecessors, he has sought to link rural and urban areas in the state for business to thrive, and made the choice of investing in the state an attractive one for both local and international businesses. He has travelled to countries around the world promoting the Ogun brand, including its famous adire fabric, which is why it can be no surprise that the state has become Nigeria’s top investment destination.
Only recently, the Ogun State government’s signed 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. According to the company, the $400m is only targeted at the completion of phase one of the projects in the area of agro-processing, so higher investments are envisaged by July 2023. Many Nigerians would recall that the Olokola FTZ was founded in the year 2004 but suffered abandonment and neglect for years. Located on 10,500 hectares of land along Ondo and Ogun states, the project was conceived as a multipurpose deep seaport complex and exporting processing zone, with operations in oil and gas manufacturing, gas supply, among others. In Ilishan-Remo area of the state, the governor has a mega project ongoing, namely the agro-allied cargo airport.
Among others, the airport will address the perennial lack of storage facilities for farm produce and the challenges arising from aviation bottlenecks that have been the bane of exportation by farmers in Nigeria. It will boost the exportation of agricultural and allied products by commercial farmers as well as the importation of farm inputs, and encourage the proliferation of agro-allied cottage industries in the country, thereby boosting the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and other economic indices within a short time frame. Indeed, as noted by economic experts, the strategic location of the airport on the Sagamu-Epe-Lekki bypass road would not only enhance easier, faster and cheaper access to it by motorists from all parts of the Southwest, it will also boost international trade in the West African sub-region along the Lagos-Cotonou (Benin-Republic) trade corridor. That’s ample evidence of strategic thinking.
With his Building Our Future Together agenda on course, it is no wonder that Governor Abiodun has prioritized the construction of roads, among them the massive Ijebu-Ode-Epe road, Sagamu-Abeokuta and Atan-Lusada-Agbara roads that have attracted plaudits from far and wide. They are all federal roads, but the governor has a mandate to make a big difference in the lives of the Ogun people. To mention just a few, the governor has completed the Oru-Awa-Ilaporu-Ibadan Road, Fusigboye-Ojofa Street Road and Asafa Oke-Asafa Isale-Ayegun-Ojofa Street Road in Ijebu Ode, while the following are at an advanced stage of completion: Oba Erinwole Dual Carriageway, Sagamu; Molusi College Road; Ilishan Market Road; 11km Atan-Erunwon Road; Ogbagba Street Road; and Ejinrin-Oluwalogbon-Mobalufon-Ibadan Road. In Ogun West, the Raypower Road and Imasayi-Ayetoro roads have been completed, while Oke Ola Road in Imeko and Owode-Ilaro Road are currently being reconstructed. The government has reconstructed the Odo Afa Road and Bridge in Ipokia, which had been in deplorable condition for years.
In recent days, Governor Abiodun has paid inspection visits to ongoing projects to ascertain their conformance with agreed plans and to determine what areas of support may be needed. In Abeokuta, he inspected two major road projects being carried out by his administration within the Abeokuta metropolis. Accompanied by his cabinet members, Governor Abiodun paid an inspection visit to the 5.3 kilometer Lafenwa-Rounda and the 5.7 kilometre Kemta-Somorin roads to ascertain the level of work. He also inspected the reconstruction of the25Km linkroad between Ilishan in Ikenne Local Government and Ago Iwoye in Ijebu North Local Government area of the state, on which occasion he noted that the poor condition of the road had in the past affected the people who are mainly farmers, as their farm produce perished before reaching the targeted markets.
Indeed, at every turn during the inspection tour, the governor interfaced with residents, listened to their observations and intimated them with his administration’s plans regarding other projects in their domain. For instance, while noting that the completion of the Lafenwa project would address the perennial flooding problem in the area, he assured the people that his administration would in the next two months restored power to the popular Lafenwa market. And while inspecting the 25Km Ilishan-Ago Iwoye road, he expounded his philosophy regarding road construction. His words: “We will ensure that roads, regardless of whether they are owned by the Federal Government or the state, are given attention. We will ensure that we repair or construct them so that we can bring people to our state to come and invest, which will in turn enhance the economy of our state and people…The people don’t want to know whether the road belongs to the federal or state government. Each time they travel on a bad road, they geo-locate their pain to where their feeling is and as a responsive government, we are living up to their expectations”.
With this kind of mindset, things can only get better for the Ogun people.
Apagbo sent this piece through firstname.lastname@example.org