By Femi Onasanya
Before May 29, 2011, Ogun State was nowhere in the comity of developed states in this country. In spite of its pride in having indigenes who are holding sway in both political and economic circles, it remained at the lower rung of the ladder as far as 21st Century development parameter was concerned.
The Gateway State which was established on 3rd February, 1976 was at that time in dire need of urgent solution to its insecurity challenge, collapse of educational sector, outright economic doldrums, youths unrest and unemployment, among others. Hence, the reason for the choice of Senator Ibikunle Amosun who on taking the oath of office clearly spelt out the five cardinal programmes of his administration ,tagged, “Mission to Rebuild Ogun,” which borders around effective, qualitative and affordable education, efficient health care delivery service, affordable housing and urban development, agricultural industrialization and rural development as well as employment generation.
Senator Amosun-led administration without delay invested hugely in security and addressed infrastructural deficit in order to rid the state of miscreants who were sold out to violence as well as re-defined the landscape of the state. These resulted in the peace and tranquility being enjoyed today which had successively won Ogun the most secured state in the last four years.
The infrastructural revolution, which is characterized by expansion of existing roads into six lanes and construction of new ones in both urban and rural areas across the three senatorial districts.
The passion to redefine the landscape of the state informed the decision of the government to embark on the construction of flyovers, thereby breaking the jinx of not having any of such constructed by the state government since its creation.
This administration in four years has over eighteen flyovers to show in Abeokuta,Ijebu-Ode, Odogbolu, Sagamu,Sango-Akute-Ojodu- Abiodun road, Ilaro township road, Ijebu-Igbo,among others, as part of its ways of transforming the state into a mega city. However, numerous eminent Nigerians, including Late Prof. Dora Akunyili,Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Aminu Tambuwal and even the sons of the soil, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Ernest Sonekan and General Oladipupo Diya, among others, pulled their weight behind the strides of Amosun-led government, describing it as “turning the state into a huge construction site” in the manner it engaged in “politics of development”.
The two editions of world class investors forum organized by the present administration in March 2012 and May 2014 in Abeokuta have been good platforms to showcase business potentials in the state across all sectors.
The fruits of these efforts did not wait too long to yield as it is on record that between 2011 and 2015,over 80 mega companies, including the US largest investment in Africa, Procter and Gambler, have opened businesses in Ogun, thereby making it the most industrialized state in the country.
Even President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan affirmed that he had visited Ogun,not for funfare but for commissioning of multi-million dollars companies more than any state in the country.While commending Governor Amosun “for making this part of the nation attractive to investors,”he said, “soonest,no resident of Ogun would be without job.”
However, one of Amosun’s populist policies and programmes that particularly touches residents is the novel regime in the acquisition of Certificate of Occupancy popularly referred to as C of O.Through this new C of O initiative, home and land owners in Ogun State have gotten what could be described as a ‘relieve package.’
Through the initiative, the state Government has reduced land title fees from N430, 000 to N100, 000. Prior to this new regime, a building approval cost N275,000; survey plan was N60,000, stamp duty was N45,000 and the C of O was N50,000. However, with the new land title regime, tagged Homeowner’s Charter, building plan approval now costs N20,000; survey plan N20,000, stamp duty N20,000 and C of O N35,000.
Notwithstanding,one of the major heart-warming feats of the present administration is the report of the World Bank, Doing Business in Nigeria 2014,which rated Ogun, out of 35 states and FCT, as one of the 5 states “that made the biggest strides towards the national frontier of good practices.” The biennial report, released on 31st September,2014, puts Ogun in the exclusive club of the top reforming states in Nigeria.
The same World Bank, in 2008 and 2010 reports, ranked Ogun State as one of the lowest overall performers among the 36 states in Nigeria in terms of ease of doing business. In other words, Ogun State was by then not conducive to business.
The report observed that in Ogun State, “The construction permitting system was radically overhauled, with the state government authorities decentralising the approval system and a new committee monitoring delays. Building permit applications and payments can now be made simultaneously in district offices. Private professionals issue environmental-impact assessments in accordance with the conditions and templates set out in a framework agreement. The certificate of completion is issued on the spot, immediately following the final inspection.”
The restoration of glorious old days of the education sector which is on the front burner of the rebuilding mission was kick started with the introduction of free and qualitative education at both primary and secondary school levels and reduction of tertiary institutions school fees by over 61% .
The government unified examination which is conducted every term in all public schools has helped raised the bar of education in the state as well as restored confidence in the system.Interestingly,the rate of students seeking admission into government owned schools has skyrocketed significantly compared to years before 2011.
Apart from construction and rehabilitation of schools to make the learning environment conducive,the icing on the cake in this sector is the construction of model schools in all local government areas,out of which 15 are already completed and ready for use.This innovation, according to the governor is targeted at the best brains regardless of their financial status.And it would further enhance the academic standard in the Gateway State.
The sterling performance of Governor Ibikunle Amosun in the last four years across all strata,without mincing words,made his victory at the polls not to come as a surprise.It was a deserved victory.”One good turn”,they say, “deserves another.”Hence,he stated in his acceptance speech to consolidate on the success of the first term is noteworthy.
It would not be a surprise if the light rail project becomes functional in no time.No one would see the Cargo Airport in Iperu area of the state coming to reality as a rude shock.The Olokola Free Trade Zone which would drastically give a quantum leap to our state’ s economy would not be an incredible feat if it comes to fruition and the completion of ongoing projects in all the nooks and cranies of the state would not be a shocking revelation. These assurances are owing to the fact that residents of the Gateway State voted for continuity which can only be achieved in Senator Ibikunle Amosun who once again takes the oath of office on 29th May,2015.
*Femi Onasanya wrote from Abeokuta,Ogun State via firstname.lastname@example.org (08036170135)