AMOSUN'S FLYING START
Against widely held belief that the celebration of 100 days by governors that took office on May 29, 2011 is an unnecessary charade, the administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun State has made meaningful strides that have clearly shown the course the administration plans to chart within its first four-year tenure.
Within Senator Amosun's 100 days in office, the administration has left objective assessors in no doubt of its policy direction and when on Monday Sept 5, 2011, Governor Amosun invited stakeholders to the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta, to listen to the account of his administration's stewardship, he further demonstrated his resolve to be transparent in governance.
Amosun, assisted by his commissioners and special advisers used the occasion to reel out his achievements to a colourful audience that included traditional rulers, erstwhile governor of the state, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Action Congress of Nigeria chieftains, labour leaders, market women, students and other stakeholders.
About 20 questions came from the audience at the packed Hubert Ogunde Hall while another 567 questions streamed in through the Internet. A team of moderators led by Mr. Kayode Ogunbunmi, a journalist with Next Newspapers summarised the questions to cover areas like employment creation, sports, industrialisation, health, land matters, environment, housing, security, revenue generation and education, among others.
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Suraj Ishola Adekunbi, and the Deputy Governor, Prince Segun Adesegun, also spoke on how the government was weathering the storm of governance.
Thereafter, the stage was set for Governor Amosun to outline his modest achievements. In an 11-page speech, entitled, 'Ogun: The Rebuilding Mission Continues,' he noted that his administration had started laying solid and durable foundation for each of the programmes on the five-point agenda he promised the people of the state.
He said effective from August this year, the government had commenced payment of the National Minimum Wage even when the Federal Government, which initiated the bill, was still dithering. The state approved N18, 250 as minimum wage to its workers. The new minimum wage in Ogun State is more than the N18, 000 passed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan and this has set the pace for other governors, who now seek to join Ogun in raising the bar beyond the limit set in Abuja.
Governor Amosun added that potable water had started flowing in many homes around Abeokuta, Ijebu and Remo divisions, adding that the efforts would be extended to all the 236 wards of the state through investment in water works and sinking of boreholes.
On education, he noted that 100 blocks of classrooms across the 20 local governments areas were being renovated in a bold attempt to kick start its free education programme.
The governor also listed the payment of WAEC exam fees, the release of funds to access UNICEF- sponsored projects, regular payment of subvention to tertiary institutions to the tune of N1bn and the reduction of tuition fees by 60 per cent as part of the administration's positive intervention in this crucial sector.
On health, Senator Amosun said his administration had started renovating 50 primary healthcare centres, increased the malaria control programme and released needed funds for the successful implementation of the free health services to pregnant women, babies under five years and senior citizens above 70 years.
On agriculture, he said the government had processed the N1 billion agricultural loan the Federal Government promised each of the states and would soon be ready for farmers to access. He added that his government had also commissioned the Cassava Processing Cottage Industry at Okolemo community, which was executed in collaboration with the British-American Tobacco Nigerian Foundation.
As part of his rural and urban renewal scheme, the governor said the government had rehabilitated four federal roads, seven state roads and approved the reconstruction of 28 roads across the three senatorial districts. The contract for one of the roads has already been signed. He revealed his administration's desire to link Sango in Ogun state with Berger in Lagos with the 're-construction of the Sango – Ijoko -Agbado – Oke -Aro -Akute-Ojodu-Abiodun Road.'
Senator Amosun added: 'The direct intervention of government, which resulted in making kerosene available at affordable prices to our people has helped in' pegging the escalating price of the commodity in the state and alleviating the suffering of the people.
The governor added: 'We have also purchased 50 buses under the Federal Government Assisted Urban Mass Transit programme. The buses will be deployed to transport passengers across the state.'
Senator Amosun expressed desire to provide adequate security in the state to ensure peaceful development and advised all those in possession of unlicensed guns to surrender them without further delay. He warned that failure to do so would be met with stiff sanction from the government. To give effect to his determination to rid the state of criminals, the governor hinted that a joint military/police patrol would soon be constituted. As far as he was concerned: 'We are determined to ensure that the hoodlums do not find our state a comfortable base.'
Two days after the stakeholders parley, Prince Lanre Tejuoso, Commissioner for Special Duties, while appearing on 'New Dawn,'' an Ogun State Television personality programme, disclosed that the state government had commenced its rural renewal programme with the linking of 100 houses in Aroje village with solar-powered energy.
Although the governor was very modest about his achievements so far, impartial observers are optimistic that the administration had kicked off strongly with sound policies that would ensure that Ogun is restored to its rightful position as the Gateway State in Nigeria.
**Olusola Balogun, a media aide of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, can be reached on [email protected]