By Sunday Ilori
Politics, as they say, “is a game of number”, and in any election, a winner always emerges, with losers coming together to throw their weight behind the victor in order to move a state forward to a greater height. Though in some few cases, the losers find it hard to accept defeat and embrace the spirit of sportsmanship, but not to the extent of resorting to fighting dirty, after having exhausted all legal options through various courts of competent jurisdiction.
However, narrowing down the harrowing experiences the incumbent governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun has been made to go through, shortly after his emergence as the fifth democratically elected helmsman on May 29, 2019, are nothing, but a dance of shame from the so-called detractors who have seen nothing good in the administration. With Governor Abiodun’s lofty programmes and policies to rescue and reposition the Gateway State from the slumber and deceit, it is worrisome that the stock-in-trade of the opposition camp that plunged the state to its present economic strait is the same that has taken up the gauntlet and brought the current administration under scathing attacks. The political vagaries are so dicey in such a way that the opposition is not sparing the rod, despite, both belonging to the same political family, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in waging a war of attrition.
Likening the scenario to a popular Yoruba wise saying that “He who is beaten is the one that feels the pain”, the opposition camp seems unsettled for reconciliation.
Despite several entreaties from well-meaning monarchs, political leaders and associates, opinion moulders and prominent leaders on the opposition to thaw the frosty relationship occasioned by the aftermath of the March 9, 2019 governorship electoral defeat, the crisis is still far from being over.
As Governor Abiodun settled down for the real business of governance, he inherited a near empty treasury. His first major pre-occupation in office was the welfare of the workforce. He entered into a social contract with the hitherto demoralised personnel who form the bulk of the motivating force for an effective and efficient day-to-day running of the business of governance. Till date, he has kept faith with his promise and also ensures that workers are paid their salaries on/or before the last working day of the month.
Thereafter, he intervened in the rehabilitation of the inherited bad roads that dotted every nook and cranny of the state; the restoration of peace in virtually all the state-owned tertiary institutions, like Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta, and Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), Omu-Ijebu, with the consequent resumption of uninterrupted academic activities; the renovation of dilapidated classroom buildings across the 236 wards in the state; and also the intervention in the health sector, especially in saving the collapse of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, State Hospitals located at Ijaiye-Abeokuta, Ilaro, Ota and Ijebu-Ode.
Others include the creation of an enabling environment for potential business operators to open shops through the re-launch of the Ogun State Security Trust Fund (OGSSTF) for the procurement of crime-fighting equipment, like patrol vehicles, motorcycles and other kits for the police, the Department of State Service (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and other sister agencies; the setting up of an out-sourcing employment agency, job portals; investment in agricultural business; restoration of the status of the traditional institution, among others. The list is endless.
By and large, it should be noted that the bulk of the ‘slow pace’, as adduced by the opposition camp itself in fast-tracking growth and development in the state, in the last 14 months, can be described as a scenario whereby “a pot is calling kettle black”. Thus, the opposition has stopped at nothing to make the state ungovernable through various dirty tricks employed to get back at the present administration. In the first place, the handover notes comprised of nothing, but mere papers that gave no policy direction for continuity in governance. In the same vein, a near empty treasury was inherited; the sham 100 percent mobilization of the contractors working on the various self-proclaimed “legacy” projects, including roads, the 250-bedroom State Hospitals, judiciary complex and flyovers-that were either abandoned or uncompleted; collapsed public classroom structures; and chiefly, the inherited financial liability amounting to N221.55 billion, excluding contractors’ liabilities worth over N200 billion.
Reminiscent of the perfidy that characterised the past administration, not minding whose ox that was gored, governance was taken to its lowest ebb, just as the day-to-day business was run like a ‘family personal estate’.
In a bid to stir the hornet’s nest, the first antic was to sell a dummy to the people of Yewa-Awori who had been in the vanguard and clamour for the shift of baton to their zone, Ogun West, in the last 2019 governorship election in the state. Surprisingly, the last straw that broke the camel’s back, in a state that is proud of great icons and pioneers (both dead and alive), a single man decided, without recourse to the party’s machinery (both command and control structure), to unilaterally appoint his anointed godson as his successor. Like claiming to be more Catholic than the Pope, the Ogun West people voted wisely in the March 9, 2019 governorship election, without let or hinderance. They demonstrated their readiness and commitment for a good governance and rebuffed every attempt to be used to hide the truth. They resisted deceit and empty promises. They made a clear choice and cast their votes for Prince Dapo Abiodun as governor.
If truly they are concerned and also empathised with the plight of the Yewa-Awori people over several years of neglect and marginalisation in the number one plum seat in the state, why has it taken them so long, not to have lobbied for federal appointments for, at least, a single Ogun Westerner, to have benefitted from their ‘Aso Rock’ scheming? Are there no qualified and competent Ogun Westerners for federal appointments?
Another joker was to get back at the current administration. Despite claiming to belong to the same family party, Amosun and his loyalists are scheming to create a parallel and shadow government. Shortly after he exited from office, he embarked on-the-spot inspection tour of many of his uncompleted roads and fly-over projects across the Abeokuta metropolis, a flagrant abuse of office of the sitting governor and an unsavoury development that was in contravention of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It would be recalled thar shortly after he assumed the mantle of leadership in May 29, 2011, Amosun de-marketed his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD, and labelled him as the greatest enemy of the state. OGD who was once prided as “ogidi omo” (meaning, responsible and reliable son) found it difficult to walk freely on the streets of Ogun State he once governed for eight years, without being pelted with stones and became an outcast. Also, he did everything humanly possible to remove the last vestiges of the OGD administration. The erstwhile governor (OGD) was kept busy, while running from pillar to post, including being grilled by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and also taken to courts on phantom charges of corruption.
At the same time, if Abiodun had decided to mete out the same treatment on Amosun over his financial misappropriation during his tenure, between 2011 and 2019, would he have had an audacity to embark on the abuse of the office of the sitting governor? Would he have had the temerity to inspect roads and culverts that were washed off by flood that ravaged some communities within Abeokuta axis that he failed to fix during his eight-year tenure in office, if not for underlining political colouration?
It is on record that, Amosun had zero tolerance for opposition. Though he didn’t send his boys after the lives of his opponents, but he used the state’s apparatus to suppress perceived enemies. Imagining the helmsman that was self-opinonated, rigid and uncompromising when taking decisions! The coming of Abiodun as governor was timely to right the wrong of the past eight years. With a sharp decline in the quality of education and collapse in the provisions of quality healthcare delivery services, the governor has redefined what a qualitative governance is. The workforce of the state government that forms the engine room of governance has been given priority attention. An enabling environment for existing and potential businesses to thrive has been put in place, with the consequent rehabilitation of existing roads and construction of new ones to facilitate easy access from one location to another.
Of paramount importance, recently, Abiodun displayed a rare sense of humility when he bowed to the popular call, wishes and counsel for the cancellation of the N25,000 COVID-19 pandemic test earlier charged for all returning SS3 boarding students in private schools.
In his magnanimity, he rescinded the decision and directed the conduct of a free test for all and sundry, and also, the provision of face masks for all returning students in both the public and private schools free of charge.
Suffice to say that, the current administration led by Abiodun has been a listening one, and holds the elders in high esteem. He has been piloting the affairs of the state with the fear of God and made good his electoral promises, without deceit, unlike primordial sentiments that characterised the previous administration.
No zone among the three senatorial districts can complain of negligence and marginalisation, despite the paucity of funds accruing to the coffers of the state government occasioned by the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged all the economies of the globe. Thus, he responds and gives human face to every basic needs of the people of the state.
With the “Building our future together” mantra, the dawn of a greater and better tomorrow for the people of Ogun State beckons.
- Ilori is a public commentator and he wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State.