By Kunle Somorin
Kunle Somorin writes about the achievements of Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State since assuming office over three years ago
Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has continued to put smiles on the faces of the people and ensuring that they are now sleeping with their two eyes closed amid rapid developments in the Gateway State.
This was evident on Wednesday, when the governor received teachers who paid him a thank-you-visit. The governor, who assured that his administration would not use and dump the interns, charged them to be diligent and committed to duty, saying, out of the 5,000 interns shortlisted, 2,000 have been absorbed, while plans are on to engage between 1,000 to 1,500 in the coming days.
The governor reiterated that his government would continue to prioritise the education sector, saying the process for the employment of teachers was based on the principle of transparency and equity.
Just a day before, Governor Abiodun had inaugurated the Igan Road in Ago-Iwoye, where he got the blessings of the monarchs of Ijebu extraction, to continue in office.
Leading other monarchs, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, said: “You have worked assiduously these past three years and three months and you have justified why you deserve a second term in office”.
Oba Adetona spoke through his representative, the Dagburewa of Idowa, Oba Yunusa Adekoya, at the inauguration of Igan Road in Ago-Iwoye, in Ijebu North Local Government Area.
“The message is clear. You have done very well by fulfilling the promises made to us in 2019. 2023 is sure and our people will vote overwhelmingly for you”, he assured the governor.
Also endorsing the governor for another term, the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Oba AbdulRasak Adenugba, said though he’s not a politician, the people of the ancient town “have come to tell me that it is Dapo Abiodun they want and not anyone else. You have restored confidence in government and for keeping the promises made to us during the electioneering campaign”, he stated.
Apart from the people within the state, Governor Abiodun had been collaborating with his neighbouring colleagues; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, as he recently inaugurated separate joint commissions with the duo in Abeokuta.
This was aimed at forging a common alliance, which will enable them jointly tackle issues bordering on security, sanitation, transportation, waste management, water supply, land use planning, infrastructure development and maintenance, urban renewal and social re-engineering.
While the security meeting with Makinde was organised to find lasting solutions to the security challenges facing Ogun and Oyo states, the parley with Sanwo-olu bordered on a wider alliance, making it the first time a formal, structured and legislation-backed framework of engagement was put in place.
Governors Abiodun and Makinde had used the occasion to set up a Joint Border Security Task Force with membership drawn from various security agencies in the two states, insisting that they have absolute commitments to the security of lives and property within the two states.
Not quite long after, the Lagos State Governor set to work, and now, it is official; the Lagos Blue and Red rail lines will commence operation between the last quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023. But that is not the last line.
Further thinning out the borderlines between Lagos and Ogun States are two viable options besides road: rail or water. Already confirmed is that the 31-kilometer Red line passengers’ rail service from Oyingbo in Lagos State will navigate through Lagos mainland, Ikeja in Lagos West and berth at Agbado station in Ogun State.
Also, in incubation is another rail line, the Blue passenger train that transverse from Apapa to Okokomaiko, but plans are afloat to stretch its services from the University town of Ojoo to the Nation’s industrial hub at Agbara industrial estate in Ogun State.
“The need to have a parallel line with other stations for the benefit of the people has led to agreeing on another line that will go from Okokomaiko to Agbara. What this means is that goods and services can move seamlessly from Apapa on a rail to Agbara”, enthused Ogun State Commissioner for Transportation, Gbenga Dairo.
“Ogun state”, he quipped, “intends to latch on to the initiative to extend Redline train services beyond Agbado to other parts of the state such as Ijoko and Kajola, among others,” adding that “the two states are already taking advantage of the significant investment of the Federal Government through the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) along the Lagos/Ibadan standard gauge railway infrastructure to ensure transportation is effective and efficient to serve the economic needs of Lagos and Ogun as the commercial nerve and industrial hub of the nation respectively.”
Introspecting on the initiative, Nnamdi Maduakor, a writer, investor and entrepreneur, wondered why contiguous states in the other parts of the country could not launch similar development projects. Applauding the Ogun-Lagos collaborative framework, he said: “the states –Ogun and Lagos- are positioning to form a thriving economic block that can stand and negotiate its own economic path with the Nigerian federation and other states of the country, and even with other nations.
“After all, States like California in the United States of America do go out to negotiate economic interests with other countries and foreign corporations, despite being a part of the United States.”
Interestingly, as far back as 2005, a Committee on Redeployment of Lagos Megacity Region Plan, has been conceived under the leadership of the emeritus professor of urban planning and physical development, Akin Mabogunje, who passed on last weekend, to facilitate the kind of cooperation finally achieved by Ogun and Lagos 16 years later.
Continuing Maduakor, said: “A close look at the concentration of industries in Nigeria clearly shows that Lagos and Ogun States are in a league of their own. Data on Foreign Direct Investment into the country confirms this fact in numbers. The governments of these states know this, and are both actively trying to widen that gap between them and the others, thus positioning themselves as the most preferred location for industries in the country.
“Yes, one can argue advantages Lagos has as the commercial capital of the country and the rubbing-off of those advantages on Ogun State. It is a valid argument, but also an excuse for a State that is bereft of visionary leaders” he challenged other state administrators on cooperation and integration efforts.
Already, both states recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding for their rail project. At the signing ceremony, Secretary to the Ogun State Government (SSG), Tokunbo Talabi, noted that the project is a significant achievement in the series of developments engendered by the Lagos/Ogun Joint Commission.
“This is a leap forward achievement from the robust understanding and synergy between the governors of Lagos and Ogun states intaking advantage of their proximity to better their economies and the lives of their citizens,” he said at the MoU signing ceremony at the Governor’s Office, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, on behalf of Governor Dapo Abiodun.
Talabi further said that significant achievements had been made by the two states through the Joint Commission in the areas of waterways and security, saying, “this is yet another testament of more initiatives to be undertaken by the joint commission.
“The two states have the understanding that what benefits one benefits the other and what brings convenience to one will mean the same for the other due to their close proximity. Integration of the transport system between the two states is highly probable for the benefits of both states.”
While pointing out that the transport system of any nation or state is critical to its civilisation, Talabi affirms that Ogun State is committed to taking advantage of the sector to improve the livelihood of commuters and citizens alike in Ogun and Lagos.
Speaking with journalists after the signing of the MoU, the Commissioner for Transportation, Lagos State, Dr. Frederick Oladeinde, explained that a train station and depot are being built in Ogun State. The icing on the cake is that the project will create a lot of employment opportunities and huge investment within the corridor for the states. Lagos and Ogun having a joint development agenda is a no-brainer. Ogun is Lagos’ only next-door neighbor and many people work in Ogun and live in Lagos, vice versa. Many companies and establishments have their factories and production plants in Ogun and their administrative addresses in Lagos.
Ogun has an unprecedented population overspill into Lagos in communities such as Ota, Akute, Alagboole, Ojodu, Agbado, Mowe, etc. across eight local governments. Unfortunately, these communities seem neglected because they have stretched and inadequate basic amenities owned by the federal government.
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State made a very vital point at the inauguration of the joint commission last year when he said the people of those border communities cannot be left to their fate just because infrastructure domiciled in the areas are owned by the federal government.
“One thing is clear, people do not care who and who is to execute a project or infrastructure, just as there are no federal people, state people or local government people. What matters to the people is to get the job done. The two states are, therefore, important stakeholders in the Development Agenda,” he said.
One of the most pressing challenges Prince Abiodun sought to tackle under the joint commission is transportation. Even before the inauguration of the Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission, access to efficient mass transit had been one of the governor’s priorities.
Since the inception of his administration in 2019, Abiodun recognised the need for an efficient public transport system. He started off by inaugurating an interim committee on transport sector. In 2021, following the committee’s recommendation, a full-fledged Ministry of Transportation was created to replace the Bureau of Transportation. The new ministry was given the mandate to provide safe, affordable, accessible and comfortable multimodal transportation system that will stimulate continued development of the state.
The governor went ahead to inaugurate the Ogun State Transportation Master Plan and also launched the Mass Bus Transit System, which are air conditioned, Wi-Fi-enabled buses. The transport policy takes into consideration the short, medium, and long-term approaches to the development of Ogun State’s transport sector and covers road, rail, water and air transportation plans. The multimodal transportation master plan of Governor Abiodun’s administration stems from the comprehensive and well researched Urban Transport Policy and Strategic Transport Intervention Plan. The buses recently launched in the pilot phase of the transport master plan are being used to transport commuters within Abeokuta for now, but will expand to other cities soon.
In the next phase of the mass transit, the route will be extended beyond the state to Lagos. This arrangement will allow Ogun State-owned buses bearing passengers to use the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes in Lagos and back, through Abeokuta, Mowe, Kara, Marina, as well as Ifo and Ado Odo-Ota axis.
In the area of water transportation, efforts are being made by the state government to provide free movement for water transport operators by clearing sea weeds on Ogun water ways and making them navigable for commercial operations. This will improve socio-economic activities and standard of living of operators and the people.
Convinced that both the inland and coastal waters running through Ogun State offer huge and promising business opportunities for several communities which have been isolated due to lack of water transportation system, the Abiodun administration is set to facilitate private investment in water transportation in other to connect several communities in Ipokia, Ado-Odo/Ota, Odogbolu, Ijebu East and Ogun Waterside Local Government Areas laterally and also vertically with Badagry, Iba, Ibeju Lekki and Epe in Lagos State for rural socio-economic integration.
The government has also promised that investment in jetties and ferry services will soon commence as promoters are already signifying interest. Also, in the multimodal Transport Master Plan More is the airport project which is at Iperu-Ilishan. Although conceived by a previous administration, it came up in the transportation master plan and has been immediately implemented.
In a matter of months, commercial activities are expected to start taking place and planes will start landing and loading at the airport. When it starts operations, it will be the first truly international cargo airport in Nigeria. It will probably be the fastest built airport anywhere and it is much more than a cargo airport. The airport is strategically located and its functionality is embedded in the location of the Special Agro Processing Zone. It is estimated that the Agro Cargo Airport will provide means of livelihood for 25,000 people.
The transport sector in Ogun is just one of the numerous examples of how meticulous Governor Abiodun has been in the conception, plan and implementation of his policies towards shared prosperity. His massive road construction policy feeds favourably into the transport policy, which is aimed at opening up those hitherto neglected border corridors, so that, socio-economic activities can flourish and the state and its people can further prosper. Again, in less than four years, Prince Abiodun has demonstrated that an extraordinary vision pursued with collaboration, sincerity of purpose and the interest of the people as the ultimate goal, Ogun is on the path of an assured future.
-Somorin writes from Abeokuta, Ogun state