BY: Omooba Segun Adewale
In Ogun State today, when you ask an average indigene of the state to highlight some of the achievements of the current governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, in the last seven and half years, the reply you will likely get is ‘roads and bridges’. It is doubtful that such a person will mention any other thing apart from road infrastructures. Ask further, where he or she has benefited from the policies and programmes of the administration, one’s ears are likely to be filled with songs of lamentations that one did not bargain for. This perfectly tells the sorry and unfortunate state at which an average person finds himself in an economically viable state.
Recently, there was a report released by the Brookings Institution which indicated that 87million Nigerians are poor, a situation which placed Nigeria ahead of India in world’s poverty rating.
The report also reveals that extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute. Acting on that report, can the government in Ogun State claim that her indigenes are not affected? The effect that this 2018 report has on the indigenes will best be pronounced when one realizes that the Amosun government has, since 2011, been constructing roads and bridges in a state that has over 4 million people, thereby leaving the people to create, vend and manage the socio-economic needs by and for themselves. Yes, the government may boost that the people are doing fine going by its statistics, but the fact and reality is that it is the common man on the streets that know where the shoe pinches. That, exactly, is what the Brookings report has confirmed.
Initially, the mission to rebuild agenda of governor Amosun sounds appealing, but when the governor committed much energy and resources in rebuilding infrastructure alone, leaving the people; the main asset, and upon which government and governance come to being, it didn’t last long before the infrastructural development achievements story of the governor became sour and not interesting to the people.
Fortunately for the people and the state, Ogun state is one of the top four economically viable states in Nigeria, raking in over 70 billion naira internally generated revenue monthly, in addition to monies which come from the federation purse. Yet, the people still does not fill the impact of the richness of their state. NO wonder the state is ranked lowest among ten other states of the federation in GDP. Reports put Ogun State at the bottom of 10 richest states in Nigeria per GDP index with $10.470 billion.
Considering the abundance of wealth and resources that the state is endowed with, the administration of governor Amosun chose to invest largely in road infrastructures and urban centre renewal neglecting the welfare of the people. Sadly, the infrastructure projects of the governor is one- sided.
For instance, to say that people from the Ogun West District constitute large percentage of the poorest in Ogun state is to say the obvious. It is sorrowful that the region, comprising of five Local Government Areas where the state earns over 65 percent of her revenue, is in shambles.
In Ado Odo-Ota, which hosts most industries existing in Ogun State, the roads there are bad. Heavy trucks and trailers stumbles and fall while plying the road every day; flinging away their contents. The Agbara-Atan road is in a pitiable state. Companies within the Ota community are suffering from roads and good drainages that will allow waste generated flow to a designated channel. This, in itself causes health challenges to residents. And these are companies paying heavy taxes which sustains the government and its projects. If the Amosun government is sincere about the infrastructure projects, people’s lives in the Ado-Odo Ota area ought to have been better by now because the numbers of lives that would have been positively affected had the government opened up the roads will be high. Trade and businesses will spring up. When people’s lives are positively touched, that is good development.
In Yewa North, Yewa South, Imeko Afon and Ipokia, where business there is predominantly Agriculture and related activities, there is no government support, not to talk of adequate support in the area of mechanised agriculture. A visits to the Ogun State owned Agro-Services corporation annex in Ipokia Local Government confirms this neglect of the people by government. The buildings there are completely dilapidated. There, no presence of government or its officials or any one at all. The situation remains the same in other local governments. And these are areas government can come in to empower and change lives for better. The health of the people in Ogun West is also at stake when a large number of people still drink water from streams at this age and times. Are these things too much to ask for?
In education, no clear cut government policies and directions on equipping schools, making it a comfortable place of learning where lives can be built in a manner in which our lives and the lives of those in government were built. The region cannot boost of public libraries, not to talk of modern ones, where people can go to and make researches. We ought to have gone past this era of establishing higher institutions and feeding of pupils for political reasons alone. The government ought to have done more.
No doubt, infrastructural development is good for the development of any state, and it is good for Ogun State considering the fact that it is the most industrialized state in Nigeria after Lagos. But there is a need for government to prioritise based on the most pressing needs of the people. The welfare of the people ought to come first. Of what importance is infrastructural development when able-bodied citizens, due to joblessness or protests against anti-people government policies or insensitivities, go on rampage and destroys it? What is the usefulness of infrastructure in a state where the country went into recession and was just recovering from it?
1n 2018, Nigeria overtook Indian in poverty rating, what has the administration of governor Amosun done to empower indigenes of Ogun State and enhance capacity building from 2011 to date? Can an average indigene who does not know anybody in government, and with good potentials, say anything good about the administration of the present government using his or her life as example? Does the government cares about the thousands of people it deposed of their means of livelihood as a result of the demolition that took place seven years back up until today? Where is the human face in developing the Ogun State? Where is the balance?
As it stands, the government of Ibikunle Amosun has done his best, and however good is macro investment policies are, the truth is that the peoples’ socio-economic needs have been completely left out.
The great task ahead of us and successive government in Ogun State is to build our people. A government which primary focus is on the people is what we need in Ogun State. If we have a good people-welfare policies in place, and strategically planned and implemented, the people will drive the development of the state beyond what exist. And using all measuring success indices, Ogun State will be one out of two states to be reckoned with in Nigeria, subsequently.
We need to add value to the people. We need to invest more in capacity building. The people deserve more. Government must create enabling environment for small scale businesses to thrive where necessary in different parts of the state. Government must intensify efforts at supporting investors for people to be gainfully employed. Government must tapped into the agricultural sector in the state such that people in this areas are empowered for maximum productivity which will, in return, add value to their lives and government must effectively use the large amount of state resources to add value to the social lives of the people. We must strike a balance between capacity building and socio-economic empowerment of the people and infrastructural development. The time to bridge this people-damaging gap is now!