This Thursday morning,(30th May, 2019), Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun MFR, assumed office at Oke – Mosan Governor’s Office, Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, amid rousing welcome by the Permanent Secretaries and state’s worforce as the successor to Senator Ibikunle Amosun FCA, MFR.
On a good day one will be walking on a slippery terrain making suggestive thoughts to the new administration as one has not yet met Prince Abiodun personally, unbelievable as that may sound in the politics of Ogun State and our party, All Progressives Comgress (APC).
My earliest recall of his name in public domain dates back to sometimes in 2009, when one of my colleagues in the administration of Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole as Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Kayode Akinmade, who knows Prince Abiodun at a personal level will always mentioned his name in glowing terms in discussion of politics of Ogun State.
My guess of Hon. Akinmade good thoughts of him were from relationship with him earlier as a Political Editor of the Nigerian Tribune Newspapers before his appointment at the National Assembly. Interestingly, Hon. Akinmade later became the Commissioner for Information of Ondo State and must have been in touch with Prince Abiodun somehow.
Again, somehow I came close to meeting Prince Abiodun without meeting him on a day I joined the then Hon. Solomon Adeola Yayi to visit Senator Ibikunle Amosun at his Ikeja GRA residence sometimes in 2014 pursuant of Yayi’s senatorial ambition in Ogun West. Prince Abiodun was driving out of Senator Amosun’s house and we were driving in. Hon Adeola stopped briefly to say hello and came back to announce the person he just greeted was Prince Abiodun.
I digress but this background is essential as what may be written here may be misconstrued in this era of many carpetbaggers seeking undue relevance in a place they did not sow or indeed have any sympathy for before the startling victory. Let me congratulate the governor on his destined fortune as he is sworn in and wish him wisdom and good health in the huge task ahead of governing a unique state in the Nigerian Federation.
From my experience working closely with chief executives of this state under military and civilian administrations and being a close observer when out of the corridor of power in Ogun State, the new governor of the state have his work well cut out. The dynamics of politics and governance in Ogun State are uniquely different from those of other states in my understanding and the emergence of Prince Abiodun as governor is one of such uniqueness of the gateway state and of course divine intervention. The role of many individuals, including now Senator Adeola Yayi and his political structure blind faith and followership of Prince Abiodun in the critical phase of the party primaries and thereafter is a story for another day.
Prince Abiodun will be governing a state with many powerful individuals that he must find a way of engaging positively in the onerous task of governance. They range from a former President of Nigeria to former Head of Interim Government of Nigeria, an incumbent Vice President, three former governors, powerful traditional rulers, influential Nobel Laureate and other renowned eggheads as well as vibrant politicians, many of who the struggle for power and its benefits is their firstand only calling. And of course, there is the issue of a ruling political party without a duly elected executive to contend with.
Indeed, these peculiarities that are challenging in itself is further aggravated by what a cleric succinctly brought to the fore during the Pre-Inauguration Church Service of the governor-elect at Ilaro, Yewa South LGA few days back. I take liberty in quoting Stephen Abiodun, the Vicar of the All Saints Anglican Church, Ilaro: “There are those who worked with Osoba, who are working with you. There are people who work with Daniel who are now with you. Also, there are people who worked with Amosun who are now following you. May God give you wisdom to handle their antics”. I was not in that service in my hometown and would not know if the congregation chorused a Big Amen but for the sake of our dear state, I say a BIG Amen to the prayer of the clergy man in view of what potentially lies ahead.
Prince Abiodun would not only require Solomonic wisdom to navigate the ‘antics’ of these desparate groupings, some of whom are late entrants into APC winning team and noted political turncoats but also manage the in-fightings that are bound to occur among these groups with diverse and contradictory political leanings. One would not be surprised to see the early weeks and months of the new administration tasking Prince Abiodun’s political sagacity as he tries to balance politics with his famed private sector background while working to take Ogun State to the Next Level.
Related to this is the “good fortune” of Prince Abiodun in having virtually all notable contenders in the race towards the Ogun 2019 endorsing his victory, which one may surmised is solely for the reason that the victory tallies with the wishes of the People of Ogun State in preventing the installation of a political apprentice of the departed governor. In other words, all were united against what has been termed an unconstitutional “Third Term”. But from what one is hearing, some of these co-contestants might be motivated by ulterior motives that are personal and had nothing to do with the wishes of the People of Ogun State or indeed, its interests.
The above notwithstanding, Prince Abiodun must quickly rise to the challenge of delivery of good governance for the people of Ogun State to quickly address the needs of the people as well as correct obvious sectoral and regional disequilibrium in policies and project implementation by the out-gone administration. There is no way one will turn a blind eye to the massive road infrastructure of the last administration in the last 8 years and other infrastructure like the Judiciary Complex commissioned last week by President Mohammaadu Buhari but such optical acknowledgement must also note the concentration of completed projects to only a section of the state, notably the state capital, Abeokuta and Ogun Central Senatorial District. Indeed, it is not only the concentration that is the issue but the relevance and opportunity cost of the projects.
While the Prince Abiodun administration is at liberty to look into the real economic costs and value for money implications of the gargantuan projects of his predecessor, of more concern is the negative gaps the huge funds expended on them has caused to delivery of sorely needed social infrastructure projects in the area of health, provision of pipe borne water, education etc. across the length and breath of the state. The regional imbalances are other area where one can justifiably question the fairness and equity of the visible project of the out-gone administration. Some apologists of the last administration have rationalize this lopsidedness and urge others to do same when they have the opportunity in favour of the disadvantaged areas and in due course all parts of the state would be developed in a “turn by turn” approach. Such view is at best ignorant as development of a whole (Ogun State) cannot take place with underdevelopment of some parts of the whole. In due course the “oasis of development” will be negatively impacted on by the “seas of underdevelopment” in its body politics and governance.
As this perspective of dropping a few line is not an x-ray of the impacts of the last administration but rather a look at how going forward would benefit the people of Ogun State under Prince Abiodun, one would urge that the new administration must as a matter of priority ascertain and disclose the total debt of Ogun State it is inheriting from the last administration and others before it as well as contractual debt on projects that are still ongoing. Such disclosure is necessary as in a few months time, the people of Ogun State will expect a change in their circumstances and whatever has been done or left undone by the past administration will no longer be of relevance in assessment of Prince Abiodun. So a cognisance of our debt profile will help in conditioning expectation and maybe justifiable of some action the new administration may perforce have to take.
Again, Prince Abiodun must adroitly manage his supporters, admirers and well wishers, some of whom will be appointed into political offices in terms of their gratifications. Granted many of them had been in political wildernessfor a while without any gratis from government. It will however be disastrous, if instead of deliverables for Ogun State peoples’ need, the focus will be for them to immediately become the nouveau richie of Ogun State in a year or so for what is a 4- year and potentially an 8 year tenure.
It is gratifying that Prince Abiodun has made tentative overtures to the new Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on cooperative ventures and many of such there is as the new governor in Ogun State must be aware. I have a view of Ogun State “going Lagos” or “Lagos moving” into Ogun State not in any derogatory or beggarly way but in utilizing opportunities that inch Ogun State to where Lagos is in every good development indices. Ordinarily, this should be a natural path considering the geographical location of the two states but is even more recommended by shared history of association, values and people. Many needed game changers of Ogun State origin for positive development are usually head hunted from the Lagos Environ and beyond and it is welcome that Prince Abiodun himself is a product of Ogun State who did well for himself in Lagos State and elsewhere.
And on the positive side on what the cleric stated about those now conglomerating around Prince Abiodun’s government, one would urged that he critically examine the policies of previous administrations and in the spirit of government being a continuum, focus or reinforce some policies that made a difference in time past. As a Chief Press Secretary/Senior Consultant to Chief Olusegun Osoba’s administration between 1999-2003, I made boast to say the impact of his rural development in the area of provision of water, electricity and rural roads was second to none as many Ogun people had these amenities for the first time. While most parts of Ogun State have the trappings of urbanization, many citizens in the state still live in rural setting devoid of basic social amenities. Prince Abiodun can lay indelible marks in rural development as this is a way to go given what is on the ground. Of course, not much publicity/show off will come to an administration developing the hinterland but Prince Abiodun can take proud position in the heart of beneficiaries of harbinger of light, literally and figuratively speaking.
Prince Abiodun also needs to take a look at some institutions creating bent of the Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration. I recall that Otunba Daniel created many agencies to address specific developmental needs which not only addressed development challenges but provided employment for many people. One can readily recall TRACE and OGROMA as the most visible. With the massive bridges construction that took place under Senator Amosun’s government, there may be need for an agency specifically devoted to their maintenance and safety monitoring. The important agencies created by Daniel’s administration should be revitalized as they are still relevant while some that are incongruous like mushroom educational institutions can be rationalized.
On a parting note I counsel that Prince Abiodun should as much as humanly possible shun the personalization of power that often afflict many in our clime albeit encouraged and fueled by fawning sycophants that hang around the corridors of power. The simple reason for this is that there is life after office except for those with the death wish of dying in office . This much I learnt from working with Chief Osoba who as much as possible lived only the life he is used to as a private person while in office as governor. Living life out office was easy as he easily blended to the status he had achieved for himself before becoming a governor without the appurtenance of office. This writer, having repeatedly been in and out of offices at some level at state and federal level can say being out of office for a season or for the rest of ones life is not a sentence as long as one does not personalise power for its trapping. In all, God’s speed to Prince Abiodun in governing of Ogun State. And I join in saying, “ Igbega Ipinle Ogun, A Jose Gbogbo wa ni”
Chief Kayode Odunaro JP
Baaroyin of Imalaland writes from Abuja, FCT