By Femi Ogbonnikan
A good example was the multi-billion naira turbine gas plant projects which the administration of Daniel imported into the country to light up the state capital, as parts of the moves to give a befitting status to Abeokuta. The purported equipment is now moribund where it is stored at the Governor’s Office, Okemosan, Abeokuta.
Nowadays, political manifestos no longer stand convincing proof for the average Nigerian electorate. No matter how embellished the policy document is, an aspirant, whether fit or misfit, often commissions professionals in the art to craft the design.
But it doesn’t usually sail through, as the electorate are wiser, more enlightened and informed to be hoodwinked.
This scenario reinforces the belief in the continued clamour for independent candidacy in order to change the narratives for electing qualified, capable and competent candidates into political offices, in sharp contrast to the previously held tenets of saddling political parties with the responsibilities.
It is curious that after the near completion of two terms, eight years in office, of the then Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) prior to the 2011 gubernatorial election in Ogun State, he had incurred more political foes than he could imagine, owing to the succession crisis in the polity. There was an intra-party leadership crisis which almost swept him off and eventually caused a massive crack in the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), culminating in the formation of the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), all in a bid to field his godson, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (aka GNI) as his successor.
On another flank, his arch-rival, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, on the platform of the Action Congress (AC), wasn’t giving him a breathing space, as he continued to face oppositions on all fronts.
OGD was called all sorts of unprinted names, just to discredit and crucify him. That is politics for you in the name of our own home-grown democracy. What were his offences? In fairness, OGD brought his rich wealth of experience to bear on governance as an engineer. He thought outside the box and governed the state as a family unit.
OGD introduced various welfarist programmes and lofty projects to ameliorate the living conditions of the people. Chiefly, he introduced the Ogun State Road Maintenance Agency (OGROMA) which was scrapped when Amosun came on board in 2011, purely for no plausible explanations, except political vendetta.
It is the scrapped Ogun State Road Maintenance Agency (OGROMA), which the current administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun has resuscitated, rebranded, and christened Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) to rehabilitate and fix roads across the state. Also, OGD touched the rural communities and breathed life into them, just to give them a sense of belonging. His political appointments cut across every section, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliation; a man who was a toast of the people with an appellation, “Ogidi Omo”, turned around the fortunes of the state but subsequently became an enemy who could no longer walk freely on the streets of Abeokuta, for fear of being stoned.
“A king that reigns and his domain thrives, his name will not be forgotten; ditto the one that rules but brings hardship and sorrow on his people, his name will not be erased from history books,” so goes a popular saying.
By sheer providence or design, Amosun warmed himself into the hearts of all and sundry, with his electoral promises to do better than his predecessor (Daniel) in office and also to unleash the full God-given potentials to the maximum benefits of the citizenry. He took up the gauntlet and addressed the issue of insecurity that was the order of the day. He ordered for the procurement of Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), vehicles, AK-47 rifles, crash helmets and ammunition from overseas in response to the orgy of bank robbery attacks in the state.
Before anyone could sense it, the real game – political vendetta – had started. Amosun rubbished and erased the last vestiges of Daniel’s legacies and replaced them with his own agenda. He suspended in some parts and also discarded other noble projects and programmes initiated by Daniel. A good example was the multi-billion naira turbine gas plant projects which the administration of Daniel imported into the country to light up the state capital, as parts of the moves to give a befitting status to Abeokuta. The purported equipment is now moribund where it is stored at the Governor’s Office, Okemosan, Abeokuta.
Sounding real and touring every nook and cranny of the state, one would have had the impression that his major preoccupation was genuine in the reconstruction and expansion of existing roads that would enhance and facilitate accelerated development and growth. On the contrary, ancient family homes and shrines, which happened to fall close to the roads were not spared, and were made to pave way for the new face-lifts.
Although the action of the government was not met with stiff opposition, only those affected in the demolition of their structures could live to tell the pangs they were made to go through. While a few of those rendered homeless could survive it, at the mercy of good Samaritans, others were sent to their early graves when compensations which ought to follow weren’t forthcoming.
In rural areas, the administration opened up new road projects. In taking cognizance of the investment in education which Ogun state is noted for, Amosun justified the premium placed on the sector to promote the legacy of the forefathers of the state for their pioneering excellent works, but the concept behind the establishment of Model Colleges in remote and bushy locations, prone to kidnapping, ritual attacks and other vices, was a misplacement of priority on the part of the administration.
The common saying, “health is wealth”, found no place in the heart of the helmsman, because the administration was missing in action. The only government-owned health teaching institution, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Shagamu, was untouched throughout the eight-year tenure, but only remained a shadow of its old self, as it turned out to be a mere “consulting clinic”. Conditions of service and motivating remunerations for resident doctors which ought to make them stay on job weren’t in place and what became of them was a mass exodus of the personnel on a “brain-drain syndrome” to Europe and the United States of America.
Lest we should forget, the construction of a 250-bed State Specialist Hospital situated along IBB Boulevard, Okemosan, Abeokuta, was hurriedly commissioned without completion by President Muhammadu Buhari on the invitation of Amosun few days to vacating office. This was one of the white elephant projects embarked upon by Amosun. Surprisingly, he claimed the project had been fully funded only for Prince Dapo Abiodun, upon his assumption of office, to inherit a huge debt profile on the project in question.
Instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on the project, however, the current administration now shops for investors to develop the hospital into a world-class health facility capable of providing quality healthcare services to the people.
In the days of yore, agriculture which used to be the mainstay economy of the state took a backseat, without a corresponding impetus to promote both existing and potential farmers. Government’s intervention, especially in boosting rice production, tagged “Mitros Rice”, soon afterwards suffered a setback within a space of two years of its birth when the exercise was fraught with irregularities and it became a mirage. Little wonder the news media was awashed with reports of incidents of sandbagged into bags of rice at the silos plant located at Obantoko, Abeokuta.
Such a dubious tendency simply lends credence to the prevalence of shenanigans during Amosun’s administration in Ogun State. What could have been responsible for the underdevelopment of the state during the eight-year tenure was a mystery shrouded in secrecy but which beg for an answer from the immediate past Governor.
However, as a promise-keeping administration, Prince Dapo Abiodun came onboard at a critical time in May 2019 when the morale of the workforce was at its lowest ebb and he rescued governance from its near collapse.
Obviously, overwhelmed by the deplorable condition of the roads and other projects bear economic benefits, but unperturbed nonetheless, the governor at inception of office, pledged his administration’s best efforts at completing all the abandoned projects inherited from his predecessor, despite the financial strain.
In comparison, the administration is not sectional in its approach to qualitative and balanced governance and in tandem with the current realities on ground, and it has demonstrated fairness in the sharing of equitable distribution of resources, across the three senatorial districts that make up the state.
It is crystal clear that, an era of half-truths, lies and deceit has given way for a more dedicated and committed administration that sees the entire state as an indivisible family unit for even development and growth, with due respect to the interest for the principles of equity, justice and fairplay.
*Ogbonnikan wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State.
(Culled: THISDAY newspaper)