December 12, 2013 | Opinion/Feature
ARCHITECH OF NEW OGUN STATE
"The whole world step aside for the man that knows where he is going"-Johnnie Walker Quality is never ubiquitous. It is always for the discerning. The event was not particularly grandiose. Even the organiser doesn't pretend it was meant to be. They however made their point in a manner very succinct and unambiguous. Members of Freelance and Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (FIBAN), in the South West conferred on Governor Ibikunle Amosun the award of the 'Architect of New Ogun State'' .The award wasn't their design. It was the product of a survey conducted across the South-Western part of the country. Nigerians residents in Ogun,Osun,Oyo and Ekiti states were asked to vote for a first term governor they found most impressive and impactful. At the end of three months of voting, Senator Amosun emerged the most preferred. Interestingly, 24 hours before the FIBAN award, the South West Zone of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) had similarly named the Ogun governor as 'the best first term governor in the zone'. The zonal leadership of the NUJ, said going by several developmental projects, the government of Senator Amosun remains the most impactful in the zone. Shortly, before the two awards, the BusinessDay Newspaper, a highly influential and authoritative business news tabloid, had adjudged Ogun State as 'the fastest growing economy and the destination choice for industrialists and entrepreneurs in Nigeria'. Indeed, the deluge of awards and commendations is the fallout of the deliberate effort by the state government to strategically reposition the State and prepare it to take advantage of its proximity to the already congested Lagos. Governor Amosun, has never left no one in doubt of his intentions to make Ogun state what New Jersey is to New York in USA. He actually set out to accomplish the goal by erecting the requisite structures. Security became an immediately priority as robbers,on assumption of office, practically rode rod-shod over the state. The government responded gamely investing heavily in that once-neglected sector. In one fell swoop, the State government purchased 14 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC's), bought 400 patrol vans fitted with communication gadgets,500 bullet proof vests,500 bullet proof helmets,1000 AK-47 rifles as well as 2 million rounds of ammunitions for the use of policemen operating in the state to equip them to face hoodlums. The government also established the 'Quick Response Squad', Operation MESA( Police/Military joint Patrol) as well as raised the Ogun State Vigilante service to complement the effort of the conventional security outfits. Crime statistics suddenly crashed in the state with Ogun state becoming one of the most secured states in the country. The Investors suddenly found the state a good place to sow while Ogun now becomes the hosting venue of conferences and seminars for local and international associations. The administration also broke all known records in rural electrification with the purchase of a whooping 500 electricity transformers for the use of communities in the state. Remarkably, this was first since the inception of the Gateway state as any government close to that was the purchase of 160 transformers by the administration of the late Bisi Onabanjo. The governor also put his experience as an accountant into bear as he enthroned a financial re-engineering model that has been grossly beneficial. He put in place measures to increase the Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state from the paltry N730 million to over N4 billion under 30 months in office. Part of that effort is the activation of the Residency Rule law which promises to revolutionize the IGR of the state. The governor introduced prudence into public financing and blocked leakages in the financial system of the state. He also slashed salaries and allowances of political office holders and blocked leakages to free funds for developmental projects. To tackle the problem of derelict classrooms in its secondary schools, the government immediately renovated 200 blocks of classrooms. It also ensured that the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) paid its counterpart funding which opened the door for thousands of classrooms to be constructed and renovated across the state. The government also laid the foundation for the 14 of the 26 model secondary schools in a determined move to permanently resolve the face-off occasioned by the return of some secondary schools to missionaries by the last administration. Besides, the government also gave true expression to free education as it supplied free textbooks and instructional materials to its students in secondary and primary schools. The move was a re-enactment of Pa Obafemi Awolowo's free education policy as executed by the late Bisi Onabanjo.The top-up was the distribution of school bags for students to keep the books safe. Urban Renewal programme is perhaps the sector where the government of Senator Amosun have been drawing most applauds. With 16 major road construction projects going on simultaneously across the state and other reconstruction works on some other smaller roads, Ogun State, according to a friend from Ondo state, is actually undergoing a road revolution. The government commenced this urban renewal programme with the reconstruction of the 2.4 kilometre Ibara-Sokori-Totoro road which was used as a model for what is now known as 'Ogun Standard' roads. The already completed road came with road furniture including walkways, drainage, median with street lights and flower beds, bus stop, flyover at the Ibara junction and pedestrian bridge. Presently, construction work is on-going on the 7-kilometer Sagamu-Benin Express Junction/Oba Erinwole Junction road, the 4.8 km Ilo-Awela road in Ota, 8.7 km OGTV-Brewery junction road, 6 km Moshood Abiola Way, 34 km Ayetoro- Lafenwa road, 9 km Ojere-Asero road, 5.6 km Somorin - Ajebo road, 2.2 km Madojutimi -- Muda Lawal Stadium, 850 metre Moriamo--Olorombo road, all in the state capital, are under construction. Other roads being reconstructed by the government are the 107 km Ilara-Ijohun-Eegua-Oja Odan-Ilase road, the 25 km Ilishan-Ago Iwoye road, 29 km Mowe-Ofada-Ibafo road, 9km Ejinrin-Oluwalogbon junction in Ijebu Ode, 12 km Magboro-Underpass road, Isheri road and the key 32 km Sango-Ijoko-Agbado-Ojodu Road. Most of these roads are at different stages of completion ranging from 5 to 60 percent. All the roads, except the Sango-Ijoko-Agbado-Ojodu Road whose reconstruction commenced just this October, are to be completed before December 2014. The reconstruction of the derelict Sango-Ijoko-Agbado-Ojodu Road was flagged off in October and it was aimed at bringing to an end the years of suffering and problem of neglect of residents of the border towns with Lagos. With the road construction effort, the problem of unemployment plaguing a continuously growing state like Ogun is equally being tackled. The construction firms are encouraged to employ thousands of skilled and unskilled workers like carpenters, iron benders and bricklayers while several food sheds are also springing up around the various construction sites. Another fallout of the road revolution is the sudden boom in sales of moulded bricks, sand and gravel supply as well as car-washing business in Abeokuta and other cities where construction work is on-going due to car-owners urgent need to clean their cars faster than usual after they have gone through these dusty roads. Written By Olusola Balogun [email protected]
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