BUILDING OUR FUTURE TOGETHER: A TASK FOR ALL BEING THE INAUGURATION SPEECH OF PRINCE (DR) DAPO ABIODUN MFR, ON THE OCCASION OF HIS INAUGURATION AS GOVERNOR OF OGUN STATE HELD AT MKO ABIOLA STADIUM, KUTO, ABEOKUTA, ON WEDNESDAY, 29TH MAY, 2019.
It is with a heart full of gratitude to God that I rise to address the people of Ogun State this morning as the next elected Governor of Ogun State. When I look back at my life: the humble beginnings from which I came, and the battles of life that I have survived, it is obvious that, it is by His grace alone, that I could have come this far and that I see the dawn of this day.
Today, by the grace of God Almighty, and the goodwill of the people of Ogun State, and others too numerous to mention, we stand on the threshold of a new dawn and a new beginning.
Let me start this address by acknowledging my predecessors in this office, those who have held this exalted position since the state was created in 1976. Each of these compatriots has served the State with varying degrees of commitment, vigour and vision. I am honoured to have taken the mantle of leadership handed down by these great men and I accept the same with a deep sense of responsibility.
There is no gain saying the fact that Ogun State is unique and well endowed, in many respects. It is well acknowledged that Ogun State is home to some of the greatest Nigerians of all times. Though a toddler at nation’s independence, the hope of a strong, united and prosperous Nigeria was still very much pervasive in the country later in my adolescent years.
To the good people of Ogun State, you have now provided me the mandate to serve our dear State. When I signed the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office a while ago, I solemnly did so beyond being a requirement for formal assumption of office. It was much more than that. I hold it as a tripartite covenant between me and God, on one part, to serve Him and reciprocate His faithfulness through the journey so far by being a tool to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of Ogun State people, regardless of creed, gender and political affiliation. On the other part, it is also a covenant with the good people of Ogun State.
• You will always find in me conduct of Omoluabi expected of Omo Teacher!
• I will govern with character!
• I will serve you diligently and sincerely!
• I will make your interests the core of governance!
• I will neither personalise nor abuse the mandate!
• I will not betray your trust
2. Building: Always a Collective Task Our vision summarises the kernel of our Agenda:
“To give Ogun State focused and qualitative governance and to create the enabling environment for a public private sector partnership, which is fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and individual prosperity of the people of Ogun.”
In our determination to achieve this vision and hit the ground running, we set up Economic Transition Committee of eminent sons and daughters of Ogun State and Work Groups to develop a Blueprint and an Implementation Roadmap. The Work Groups held a series of engagements with stakeholders in the State and interfaced with other stakeholders outside the State, including but not limited to development partners and multilateral organisations.
The Committee and Work Groups comprised of not only technocrats and professionals from the industry, but actors in the political space drawn from our great party, All Progressives Congress (APC), and other major political parties in the State, including co-contestants for the seat of the governor. This collaborative and inclusive approach, the first of its kind in the state, will continue to underpin the conduct of government affairs.
My strong belief is that our State will benefit from the collective wisdom, knowledge and passion of all citizens that are in abundance across the different regions of our State and the political parties and groups.
I am proud that we have received the preliminary report of the Economic Transition Committee and delighted that a number of initiatives have emerged that will no doubt propel our State in the desired direction. Once again, I thank all the members of the Economic Transition Committee ably led by Mr. Tunde Lemo. If our Agenda development has been deliberate, our disciplined approach and execution strategies will even be more so.
3. Public Service Reform
We are aware that the workers in Ogun State have been confronted with a number of challenges that resulted in low morale and productivity. While we pass no judgment before knowing all the facts, we wish to repeat the promise made to our workers during electioneering campaigns:
Our workers are the prime resource of the State and an economy is only as good as its managers. Within the limit of available resources, we shall endeavour to be fair, open, just and equitable to all our workers and pensioners. The Civil service must be professionalised and empowered to carry out the basic mandate of running government operations effectively and efficiently. We shall embark on massive re-training and relevant skills acquisition programs especially in ICT and related managerial and functional courses that will prepare our Civil service for the great tasks ahead. We will ensure that their welfare is paramount and the environment in which they work is conducive to enhance their productivity. I trust that our workers, made up of reasonable men and women, will moderate their demands and cooperate with us to take Ogun State to the next level.
4. Empowerment of Local Government Council
The commitment of our Administration to the empowerment of our Local Government Councils to effectively and efficiently discharge their constitutionally guaranteed mandate is total. Apart from constitutional arrangement that places this tier of government close to the people, it is also in the self-enlightened interest of the State government that is focused on good governance, like our Administration, to so do. Our development agenda will be deepened and fast-tracked if our Local Governments are truly governments and not just mere appendices of the state government and salary payment centres.
My Administration will evolve a new but constitutionally backed arrangement that will make our Local Government responsive and responsible to the yearnings of the people.
5. Transparent Public Finance Management
Central to good governance is transparent and accountable public finance management that eliminates leakages and ensures efficient and judicious use of the commonwealth.
Some of the immediate steps in this regard are:
• Full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) • Full automation of Ogun State Finance functions
• Strict adherence to Fiscal Responsibility Act
• Institution of Credit Rating for Ogun State by internationally accepted rating agencies
• Strengthening of the internal audit functions
• Timely publication of audited accounts
These steps, apart from preventing leakages, will ensure prudent financial management and also help to attract financial support from financial institutions, multilateral agencies and development partners.
It is well known that the primary responsibility of government is security and welfare of the people. And that no meaningful development can take place in an insecure environment. I am determined to live up to the oath of office that invests in me the responsibility of the Chief Security Officer of our State.
A number of recent ugly developments and security breaches indicate that some elements in the society may be testing the grounds to gauge the resolve of the new Administration to ensure security of lives and property in the state.
I wish to make it abundantly clear to all and sundry that Ogun State under my watch will be an unfavourable environment for criminal elements to practice their unwholesome trade. Security agencies have been fully briefed to visit the full weight of the law on anyone engaged in any activity or conduct that threatens peace and security of this state.
The following are additional measures that will be taken in this regard.
• Immediate support to the security agencies to aid communication and mobility
• The Security Trust Fund will be revived and the Board of Trustees will be constituted in a manner that will gain the trust of the stakeholders, particularly the donors, and thus enjoy their support.
7. Employment Trust Fund
Unemployment has attained the status of an epidemic in the country and in our State too. The army of unemployed youth roaming the streets should be a matter of concern to all. Lack of gainful employment and lawful means of survival for these able-bodied young men and women make them prone to criminal activities and immoral behaviour. We have designed multi-pronged approach to address this unpleasant situation.
• In the next two weeks or so, a portal will be unveiled to register unemployed persons in the state with details of their qualifications and skills. The resultant database will be available for employers of state and new investors to recruit from. Other uses include internship opportunities for those who may not have immediate permanent employment and nominations for intervention programmes and skills
• Establishment of Employment Trust Fund that will focus on providing
entrepreneurship training, skills acquisition and access to seed funds
to the trained applicants to start their businesses
facilitate the development of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to enhance their capacity, through Business Development Services, Access to Market, Access to Fund and similar services.
8. Physical Infrastructure
In the course of electioneering, my extensive tour showed me the unsatisfactory state of our public infrastructure roads: rural and urban, water, electricity and housing leaves much to be desired and the concerns of our people in this regard, are well placed. From Ilaro to Ilara, Ajebo to Ajenbadele, Odeda to Odogbolu, Iwopin to Iwoye, Iperu to Ipokia, Sango- Ota to Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode to Ijoko, Igbesa to Igbogila, the story is the same.
Resources appeared to have been poorly allocated as the rural areas have been totally neglected. Our promise is that our government will be fair in the allocation of infrastructure to all parts of the State. We shall deploy several strategies and alternative financing options, such as Public Private Partnership (PPP), establishment of an Infrastructure development Bond and other initiatives in the funding and delivery of infrastructure projects across the State. .
In order to maximise the full benefits of government spending on infrastructure, we shall ensure adequate planning, evaluation and preparation before infrastructure projects are embarked upon. This will ensure that we get full multiplier effects on the economy and will enable us to deliver those projects on time and on budget. Provision of multi- modal transport infrastructure will be considered for different parts of the State and will traverse rural to urban areas, commercial centers to industrial clusters as well as connect our various towns and cities while ensuring that all critical inter-state roads are fixed and in some cases expanded to enable smooth flow of human and material resources as the Gateway State. The Public Works Department will be resuscitated, and empowered to commence immediate rehabilitation of some of the township and rural roads.
In order to take advantage of the gas pipeline network that passes through the State, we shall work closely with the power sector regulator, NERC and the Ibadan Disco as well as private sector investors in order to develop new IPPs through PPP especially in industrial clusters, residential estates and commercial centers where the regular power supply will be a major attraction to private sector investors. We shall consider deployment of solar power especially in our communities, primary health care centers as well as select educational institutions.
Our government understands the importance of housing as a major social need of our people. We intend to work with private sector and financial institutions in the deployment of affordable homes and ensuring availability of mortgages for prospective home owners.
The state of Education in the State is worrisome. We have been regaled with stories of unpaid salaries, poor funding, unremitted deductions, moribund projects, controversial campus relocations, hasty appointments, strikes etc. Confidence has been eroded, Unless we act quickly, education which is already in serious trouble will get worse. We cannot afford to have our education, which should be the bedrock of all our development activities, our topmost industry- be in such a state.
Today, this State has the largest number of public and private universities, and we are what Boston is to the United States of America.
However, this legacy is being gradually eroded with the declining standards of education system in the state and uninspiring performances of the products in national and internationally moderated examinations. Restoring the glory of Ogun State education system requires an urgent, comprehensive and disruptive approach akin to the declaration of a State of Emergency.
Consequently, we will convene an Education Stakeholders Summit that will bring all experts and relevant stakeholders to discuss and proffer solutions to the deplorable state of education in the State from Early Child Education (ECE), to primary, secondary, tertiary as well as technical and vocational training schools. Visitation panels will be set up to select tertiary institutions for fact-finding missions and to proffer practical solutions to the lingering problems experienced in many of these institutions. We shall establish Centers of Excellence in our educational institutions that will be driven by our ICT initiatives, which will contribute significantly to research, learning and innovation through review of curriculum, provision of broadband connectivity and strategic alliances with other local and foreign institutions of repute. We shall ensure that our schools are conducive for learning through provision of adequate infrastructure and facilities. We will embark on a massive capacity building program for our teachers to enable them upgrade their skills and qualifications in order to prepare them adequately for their unique role of imparting knowledge and finally, we shall put in place a monitoring and performance management systems to ensure that all these interventions bear good results.
Topmost of any welfare initiatives for citizenry by government is the facilitation of easy access to quality and affordable healthcare services by government. This is a major component of the Building Our Future Together Agenda. Indeed, there is no future without a sound health.
We intend to provide easy access to health through a number of initiatives, which include:
• Focus on primary healthcare centres (PHC) as the nucleus of the health care delivery system. This will bring healthcare services close to the grassroots, ensure most of the day-to-day health challenges of the people are treated locally, thus freeing the secondary and tertiary health institutions to concentrate only on those ailments requiring specialist attention as well as teaching and research. PHC’s will further assist to collect heath related data and engage in preventive medicine, including health education.
• Rehabilitation, equipping and adequate staffing of the General Hospitals and Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital to serve as effective referral centres for the lower tier healthcare delivery centres. Government, in conjunction with stakeholders, will also consider designating some of the hospitals as specialist centres to sharpen their focus and become centres of excellence in their designated specialist areas.
• Deliberate capacity building to upscale knowledge and skills required to deliver effective and efficient healthcare in our hospitals.
• Restructuring of the Health Insurance Scheme to address identified lapses and make it more efficient and affordable.
• The Healthcare centres will also be gradually connected to the Broadband Internet to leverage on technology for centralised Health Records Management System, development of reliable database on healthcare system, and telemedicine.
11. Agriculture and Food Security
Ogun State occupies a land mass that is over 16,000 square kilometres, most of which arable. There is no doubt that the immense potentials of the favourable climate and fertile soil for agriculture have not been fully harnessed. The target of this Administration is to produce enough food to attain self-sufficiency in food security in the short term, and over long term produce enough for other states and for export.
To achieve this, government will implement a framework that will ease acquisition of land for agriculture purposes, facilitate linkages between farmers and the industries, encourage local processing to enhance value-chain and thus reward on investment, and organise farmers into groups and establish an off-taker system to encourage more production and guarantee price stability. Other initiatives include facilitation of access to intervention funds to provide the much-needed capitals and encouragement of our youths to take advantage of the incentives in Agriculture and become Agro-entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, our farm settlements that used to be the main stay of the economy of our region under Chief Obafemi Awolowo will be revived and new ones will be established that will have the full compliments of modern day living and thus be attractive to our youth. Roads leading to our farm settlements and rural areas in general will continue to receive priority attention to facilitate the movement of farm produce to markets.
Our administration will work closely with the Federal Government, Central Bank of Nigeria and other local and multi-lateral development agencies and research institutions to provide a holistic value-chain approach to the development of agricultural sector in the State while facilitating the much- needed intervention funds available for use by our farmers.
12. Industry, Trade and Investment
This Administration is committed to making Ogun State a truly Investors’ First Choice Destination in Sub-Sahara Africa. Our geographical location as the gateway to the country and the proximity to Lagos, the fifth largest economy in Africa, put us in a vantage position for this aspiration. Ogun State has experienced some influx of companies, largely by a push factor rather than deliberate and concerted pull factors from Ogun State. This is the differentiating element in the intended approach of this Administration.
Some of the pull factors that will draw investors into Ogun State and retain their investments to the mutual benefits of the investors and the State include, but not limited to:
• Reorganisation of Ogun State Investment Promotion Agency that will provide a truly one-stop-shop for investors to know about the natural and solid minerals resources of the State and the business opportunities, and the facilitation required to invest in the State and commence operations. The facilitation will include land acquisition and ownership, community relations, statutory documentation, and linkages with the suppliers, especially farmers.
• Development of Ogun State Masterplan and designation of industrial hubs with provision of power, leveraging on the gas pipeline that runs through the state.
• Constant rehabilitation and upgrade of roads leading to the industrial hubs and the inner roads.
• Harmonisationoftaxesandleviestoeliminatemultiplicityandensure ease of self-assessment and payment.
• Regular interaction with the business community to obtain direct feedbacks and input into government policies and programmes
• Interface between the industry and the academia will be strengthened to ensure that the curricular equip the products of our tertiary institutions with the competencies required by the industry. Our government will establish and maintain regular dialogue with the private sector with a view to getting feedback and ensuring that all their concerns are speedily addressed.
• We shall work with the Ogun State House of Assembly to pass necessary laws towards the establishment of a viable and autonomous PPP Unit, which will lay out the process and guidelines for all private sector partnership engagements such as Joint Ventures, Concessions and Strategic Alliances especially in the development of infrastructure and exploitation of the State’s natural and mineral resources proven in commercial quantities.
• We shall establish the Ogun State Enterprise Development Agency to provide much-needed support and capacity building to the Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) which are the bedrock of any economy. The Agency will also assist in the facilitation of all available intervention funds from the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria and monitor compliance with all requirements in order to achieve its objectives.
13. Information & Communication Technology (ICT)
Information Technology is both a strategic resource and an industry with a huge economic benefit of its own, like any other industry.
Ogun State under my watch is poised to harness the full benefits of Information Technology, both as an enabler of good governance and the core of the Digital Economy.
The government will, as a matter of priority, commission the development of Ogun State Information Technology Plan that will draw from and be supportive of the Building our Future Together Agenda. The plan will identify initiatives that will enhance operational efficiency, effective service delivery and accountability, citizens engagement, and transparency in the conduct of government affairs. Furthermore, we will expect the plan to highlight a roadmap to how the State can build a strong Digital Economy, taking advantage of its many tertiary institutions and enterprising youth population.
14. Tourism and Entertainment Industry
Our State is proud to also hold the flag in the entertainment industry with the highest number of prominent practitioners in all genres of arts and entertainment. It is an industry that has demonstrated its potentials as employers of labour and earners of foreign exchange, in addition to the promotion of the nation’s diverse but rich culture and brand to the outside world.
This Administration will tap into the growing industry. Some of the Ogun State sons and daughters in the industry have indicated a strong interest to partner with the government to develop an Entertainment Village as a way of promoting tourism and boosting the economy of the State. Appropriate government agencies will be directed to work out the details and present an implementation document for consideration and approval.
The well-deserved victory we celebrate today is sweet. The mandate is sacred and treasured. But the path to this moment was rough and the ride was bumpy. No leave can fall from the tree without the permission of God Almighty. He sometimes achieves His will for one through the support of other men and women of goodwill and inexplicably through opposition of others, even from unexpected quarters. Everyone plays the role divinely assigned to him in a project. But the will of God will always prevail. With that at the back of my mind, my appreciation goes to all without any ill- feeling whatsoever.
However, my special appreciation is reserved for President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. Our nation is blessed with your leadership and this has been amply appreciated with the renewed mandate for another four-year term. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a study in courage and leadership. It would be difficult to imagine the fate our great party, All Progressives Congress (APC), in the run up to and in the general elections without his tenacity and forthrightness. Mr. Chairman, I thank you most sincerely. The duo of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Akinrogun Olusegun Osoba will continue to be sources of inspiration to many of us and great pillars to lean on, in good and not-so-good times. May God preserve you for many more years of service to the nation.
Leading a team of just three men for work meant for many, Chief Yemi Sanusi, the Chairman of APC caretaker committee in our State, did an admirable job. I thank you for your leadership. My gubernatorial campaign council was like no other in the history of our state. The political environment was made toxic and uncertainty pervaded the atmosphere, yet the Prince Segun Adesegun led Dapo Abiodun Campaign Organisation (DACO) responded swiftly with flexibility as the occasions demanded. To you and other members of DACO, I say well done.
Certainly, there are other leaders too numerous to mention here due to space constraint and members of the party. You all demonstrated an uncommon faith, steadfastness and character, resisting the temptation of immediate gratification, even when you were in needs. Your sacrifices will not be in vain. I assure you.
To my co-contestants, leaders and members of other parties who have since responded positively to our calls to join hands to build our State together. I thank you for your sportsmanship. You have my personal assurances that our extension of hands of fellowship is not to achieve political correctness but a genuine commitment to inclusiveness. The interests of our State override any narrow and individual interests.
I also appreciate the Transition (Interface) Committee that liaised with the preceding government for the maturity and patience with which you approached the assignment. The Inauguration Committee and the various sub-committees put together an impressive inauguration programme which peaked with this event today. Your efforts, creativity and sacrifices are deeply appreciated.
My family bore the traumatizing experience of seeing their beloved go through the crucible while the storm lasted without wavering for a moment. I am yet to fathom how my two parents who are over eight-year- old coped with the turbulent period but I guess their unshaken faith in God comforted them. I love you Dad and Mum. My lovely wife was like a rock of Gibraltar. She is much stronger than her tender and elegant look. I benefited, as always, from your support. Bamidele, I love you most dearly. My adorable children are my advisors, counsellors, sounding board, unsparing critics but greatest sources of inspiration and encouragement. You know how much I treasure you.
Members of the fourth estate of the realm, you have largely discharged your scared duty of informing, educating and entertaining on a most professional way. Without your support, the storyline may have been different today. I am grateful.
Words cannot convey my deep appreciation to the good people of Ogun State for the state-wide mandate you have bestowed and for the faith you reposed in me. I have good news for you. All my actions and utterances will be in furtherance of your interests. This is the least I can do to show my appreciation.
I stand here today as the standard bearer of the mandate of the people and the facilitator-in-chief of our collective aspirations. And I solemnly accept this responsibility with all humility and sense of history. But I remember one of the witty but wisdom-laden sayings of the hero of our current democratic dispensation. The man that the stadium in which this event is taking place is named after, Aare MKO Abiola. He once said “no one can clap with one hand”. The task of building our future is a collective task. It is beyond what I alone can shoulder or the team that will work with me in government. Rather, it is an Aaro that we owe each other.
However, I can assure all and sundry that the government under my watch will be people-centred. The government will be our government, not their government. I have experienced ups and downs of life like any of you. I can relate to your challenges.
I can identify with your dreams. You want a government that works for you, and not for cronies and families.
Let me pledge once again, that I, Adedapo Abiodun, will keep faith with the people. I will lead with integrity and sincerity. My Administration will be fair, just, equitable and inclusive.
So help me God!
God bless Nigeria. God bless Ogun State. God bless you all. Igbega Ipinle Ogun, ajose gbogbo wa ni
Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun, MFR
Governor, Ogun State, Nigeria Wednesday, 29th May, 2019.